A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that but for the obvious exception of Jon’s presence, there’s little to differentiate this series from what it was under its old moniker, Jon & Kate Plus 8. The focus remains on the often-stressful life of now-divorced mom Kate and her eight kids, and tensions frequently run high within the busy household. With Jon's absence, Kate gets more screentime, and it's tough to believe she doesn't enjoy it -- though without Jon, there's less bickering onscreen. Parents will certainly relate to Kate’s frustrations over temper tantrums and sibling rivalry, but the show holds no value to kids, who won’t understand the reasoning behind Kate’s biting sarcasm and pithy comments about Jon.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
KATE PLUS 8 centers on newly single mom Kate Gosselin and her eight kids: twins Mady and Cara, and sextuplets Hannah, Leah, Alexis, Joel, Collin, and Aaden. Fresh from her divorce from Jon, Kate is faced with the daunting tasks of keeping her household running, managing her worldwide notoriety, and being a working mom (she’s a published author and recently competed on Dancing With the Stars). While the bulk of the show’s content centers on birthday parties, family outings, and the kids’ milestones, the fallout from the divorce does come up during Kate’s confessionals on camera.
Is it any good?
Whether you love or hate Kate’s polarizing personality, it’s impossible to dismiss her position as a symbol of modern motherhood. She faces the same types of stresses that other moms do, but on a much larger scale because of her family dynamic. Now that she’s divorced, of course, there’s a whole new set of issues to resolve, but an unexpected plus is that Jon’s absence makes for far less bickering. On the downside, Jon's absence also means more camera time for Kate, and she clearly soaks up the extra attention.
There’s really no reason for kids to tune in to this show, since they won’t get anything positive out of watching the Gosselin tots take elaborate trips or zip around in their flashy riding toys. Kate makes harsh comments about Jon during her camera confessionals (she holds her tongue around the kids), and she's sarcastic to the kids themselves . Then there's the issue of her inviting media attention through the show while crying foul on the paparazzi's interest in her family. If you can tolerate Kate’s strong personality, though, the show does feature the occasional heartfelt moment between her and the kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media portrays family relationships. Do you think this series gives an honest account of life in the Gosselin household? How does their family compare to yours? Do you think reality series like this one are realistic? Why or why not?
How has the definition of “family” changed over the past few decades? How do you define the word? Does the media lead the change or change to reflect it? What shows do you know of that portray different kinds of American families?
What do you think of Kate’s parenting style? Is it too harsh? Is it fair to judge her having never been in her shoes? Do you think this show exploits the kids for monetary gain? Why or why not? What is the point to someone airing her dirty laundry on TV? Can anything good come of it?
For kids who love reality television
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.