Tonight on “Jon & Kate Plus Eight,” Jon and Kate Gosselin announced that they are separating after 10 years of marriage.
The news came as no surprise. Late last week, TLC had announced that the Gosselins would be making an important announcement on tonight’s episode. Earlier on Monday, People.com had reported that “a source close to the situation” said that the couple had filed divorce papers in Pennsylvania that afternoon.
On air, however, neither spouse uttered the word “divorce.” Jon was the first to address the issue directly, saying, “Kate and I have decided to separate.”
A title card running toward the end of the episode read, “On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the ten-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.”
As had been the case throughout the series’ fifth season, each spouse spoke to the camera alone. Neither Jon nor Kate addressed the reports of apparent marital infidelity that had made them the subject of tabloid speculation since before the season started this May.
Rather, they attributed the failure of their marriage to difficulties in communication. “Jon has a lot of anger towards me, and I would love to discuss it with him, and he won’t talk to me,” said Kate, adding, “I don’t know he knows what he wants.”
“I’m looking for friendship with Kate,” said Jon, “and we don’t have that now.”
Kate said that the pressures of fame were not a cause of their marital problems. “I believe that it’s a chapter that probably would have played out had the world been watching or not.”
They both indicated that the show will continue much as it has this season, with the parents staying apart as they engaged the children. Kate said that she would continue to live with the kids in “their house” and would leave when Jon comes to visit.
The sad news came at the end of a special hour-long show that, for its first half, played out like a regular episode, except for the constant previews that hinted at the announcement to come. The parents had arranged for the children to receive whimsical playhouses from Kids Crooked Houses. Whether this was a good product placement remains to be seen. (New motto: “Crooked Houses for your broken home.”) On Monday night, the company’s website was either overwhelmed by traffic or had been taken off-line.
Jon had used his tractor to clear an area in the woods for the playhouses. Kate decided that the site was too far from the house to be safe. “My stomach is churning because I know this is going to cause a big fight,” she said. After her cell-phone call failed to persuade Jon to change his mind, she told the workmen that she was going to talk to Jon in person.
“I’ll be hiding in the woods when you do that,” said one worker. When Kate asked if he wanted a signal, he replied, “I’m married. I know when to run.”
Fortunately, the Crooked House guys talked Jon into changing the location. As the construction went on, Kate had a picnic with the children. “It doesn’t matter where Jon and I are in our relationship,” she said. “My kids still matter the most to me. If I have to put on a happy face, I do.”
The shots of the children obliviously enjoying their new playhouses were poignant. Mady, who was happy the manufacturer spelled her name right, got a house shaped like an animal hospital; Kara got a haunted house; the girl sextuplets got a garden center; and the boy sextuplets got a pirate ship (they spotted a pretend bear through the periscope).
Most of the second half of the show was literally he said, she said, with sound bites from each spouse alternating rapidly as they talked about their separation. As usual this season, Jon and Kate did their interviews sitting alone on the famous couch.
“It’s been so stressful,” said Jon. “Thank God we have the show, so we can tell what we want to tell.” Kate described the deterioration of their marriage as “a slow progression that has not popped up one day,” and Jon said, “It’s been a hard seven or eight months.”
Jon seemed to resent the tabloid coverage more than Kate. “We’re paparazzi, both her and I, 24-7,” he said. “It’s a shame that our society has come to that. We have soldiers over in Iraq dying for our country, and all these people care about is what I eat for lunch.”
Apparently trying to explain what went wrong, Jon said, “I was too passive. I just let her rule the roost and do whatever she wanted to do, and went along with everything, and now I finally stood up on my own two feet, and I’m proud of myself.”
Later he said, “It’s life, it’s a roller coaster. It’s what happens, and sometimes you just go off the tracks. I don’t hate Kate, but I have to do what’s best for me and my kids. You know, them first.”
“I don’t hate him,” said Kate. “Never have, never will. He’s the father of my children. They’re great kids, the best.”
Each parent described the decision to separate as mutual and made in the best interest of the children. “It’s just not good for our kids for us to be arguing in front of our kids,” said Jon. “If we can’t be cordial to one another, then we decided to separate.”
“I’m not very fond of the idea,” said Kate, “but I know it’s necessary, because my goal is peace for my kids.”
Kate spoke more about how the split was affecting her: “I had half a day when I let myself fall apart and hyperventilate and sob harder than I’ve ever sobbed in my life.” And she addressed how she’s perceived by the public: “I have become very hardened, very crass, very jaded, maybe. And I’m sure that’s what people see about me. But that is my survival self saying, ‘I will not lay down and die. I will go on for my kids.’ ”
“I wasn’t always the greatest communicator,” Jon said. “I do have feelings as well….I’m hurt by all of this, but I’m excited and hurt by this at the same time. I have a new chapter in my life. I’m only 32 years old [Kate is 34]. I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
A montage of clips going back to the show’s first episode was followed by a segment showing the family going out for brunch this Mother’s Day. In voice-over, both Kate and Jon stressed that they wanted to continue to see the children on holidays.
It was raining, and the parents helped each other shuttle the kids from the van to the restaurant under umbrellas. “It’s like teamwork,” said Kate. “Like the old days.”
Reality Bites :
On this week’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” two couples—Caitlin and Jason, and Kupono and Ashley—performed hip-hop routines choreographed by Shane Sparks. Both couples seemed out of their element, and both of them wound up in the bottom three in the viewer voting. They were joined in the bottom by Kayla and Max, who had performed a somewhat puzzling pop-jazz routine by Brian Friedman that had received good reviews from the judges. After the six had performed their dance-for-your-lives solos, the show’s chief judge and executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, told them that the judges’ decisions weren’t unanimous but that Ashley, whose solo “lacked substance,” and Max, whose solo looked silly because he was doing ballroom moves, were going home. Kupono probably coasted by on personality.
On “Brooke Knows Best,” Brooke’s friend Ashley was approached by a Euro type named Orlando and his scarily cheerful American friend and offered $20,000 if she and Brooke would make an appearance on their yacht. Upon boarding, Brooke and Ashley, who were paid in cash, learned that the party only included four other girls, who began dancing suggestively and making out with each other. “Who want to give the oil to Orlando?” their host yelled. Scarier still, the yacht had a mirror on the bedroom ceiling and a “nightclub” with a fog machine. Brooke and Ashley jumped ship in the Bahamas and were forced to charter a boat home.
The post-finale special episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”—an hour-long “director’s cut” with some new footage from the women’s out-of-control “last supper”—contained few revelations but several fun moments. After many replays of Teresa flipping the dinner table at Danielle, one of Caroline’s sons told the camera, “If you’re not familiar with the table flip, you’re probably not from New Jersey.” Teresa confided that she thought her husband, Joe, was aroused by her volatile behavior, “because when we got home, we really got it on….I’m like, ‘I should flip tables more often.’ ” Most surprisingly, after all the screaming and name-calling, Danielle stuck around at the bar to have a glass of champagne with the other housewives and their husbands.