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 V.17 No.31 | July 31 - August 6, 2008 

Idiot Box

Thigh-High Waders

“Jon & Kate Plus 8” on TLC

Choosing the best in television is easy, as there’s not much competition. Determining the worst, however, takes a real commitment, akin to testing the efficacy of thigh-high waders in a lake of waste; you have to wade through a lot of shit.

And it’s a shit-jungle out there. Forgetting the terrible scripted shows, the mediocrity of the human condition becomes clear. “The Hills,” “The Bachelor," that one with dancing cats ... reality television is, by-and-large, really exceptionally stupid. But that’s the point, and at least part of the agenda of the aforementioned shows. When a show is aware of its own stupidity, it becomes part of the joke and a purveyor of it. While it’s not art, there’s artifice, and so it's at least passingly interesting.

But there’s a reality show that is so reckless, so purely evil, that millions have given in to its insidious charms: “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

For those who have kept out of its web, the premise is this: Jon and Kate wanted babies, underwent fertility treatments, and had adorable twins. And then, because they had just too damn much love to give, they didn’t adopt but went for the juice and knocked out a set of sextuplets. Eight in total. Get it?

The show follows the Gosselin family and the trail of damage they incur. What irks me, and really anyone with eyes, about this show is not simply its reckless promotion of lots-of-baby-having (the family has received a hefty amount of free stuff from adoring fans, including hair implants for dad). Nor is it that the two parents, people my age (in their 30s), now identify themselves seemingly solely through their act of procreation, wearing such gems as the tie-dyed T-shirt “Grateful Mom” and the classic “Daddy Needs a Time Out.”

No, it’s one essential thing: It’s droolingly boring.

One episode followed Jon as he put together beds for the sextuplets. You know what’s not easy? Putting beds together! With six 3-year-olds! And two 7-year-olds! Ay, carumba! And Kate’s making lunch. Boy, what a lot of sandwiches! Crusts off? I don’t think so, buddy. Nutrition is A-No.1.

Mostly, the pair talks about how their children have different personalities from one another, as they are people. Kate also enjoys setting feminism back 50 years by doing her best harping nag routine, complete with a spectacular head of mom-hair.

The kids, however, are fraking adorable ... because no one hates kids, those chubby monkeys of love. But what people do hate are people who talk about their kids, even if a bunch of them match. Especially if said moppets are proving to be quite the meal ticket; the boring, boring meal ticket.

“Jon & Kate Plus 8” airs Mondays on TLC at 7 p.m.


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