By a show of hands, how many people watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 when it first aired on TLC? I know I did. They were just a cute couple with eight kids trying to navigate life. It was one of the first reality shows I watched that wasn't competition based, and I was loving it.
But as things went on, it became clear that there was tension brewing in the household. Both Jon and Kate had differing opinions on how to parent their kids, but Kate always seemed to win in those arguments. Crazy what can happen when you scream and throw a tantrum, right?
The show started to be more dramatic, with spats and arguments taking over the original point of the show, which was to document the lives of a large family and provide some uplifting television. As the seasons went on, we saw the kids grow and develop their own personalities, but we also watched as Jon and Kate's marriage completely crumbled. Kate became more and more controlling as things progressed, while Jon was either completely passive or totally defiant. This couple that once shared so much love between each other had totally fallen apart.
In 2009, the Gosselins announced their separation. It wasn't unexpected, but it definitely left a lot of questions unanswered. Would this split affect the television show? Who would get this kids? And most importantly, would Jon and Kate stay cordial enough to allow their kids a happy life despite their own personal feelings?
The answer to that last question was a resounding NO.
Kate retained custody of the kids, although from a recent interview with Jon, it sounds like nothing is actually concrete. The father of eight said he doesn't really choose which kids he sees.
"Now all the secrets are coming out because I'm not afraid to say anything," Jon said.""˜How come you only get four kids?' Because who I get is who I get. Whoever comes through that gate or gets off that [school] bus is who I get."
Shortly after their reality show ended, Kate found herself on TLC once again, with a new program called Kate Plus 8 in 2010. It was a different dynamic in the family, and Kate continuously lamented about the difficulties of being a single parent. Of course, it didn't always go over that well. Many viewers found it hard to sympathize with someone making thousands of dollars off her life.
The Gosselins didn't live in a shack by any means, and they always seemed to be going on vacations. For someone who hated the stress of single parenting, she sure seemed willing to add the stress of cameras to her life.
On top of her on-screen antics, Kate also made it very clear to her kids that visiting their dad was more or less a chore. A source close to Kate Gosselin revealed the strict rules Kate keeps when her kids visit their dad at his home.
"Kate says no clothing or belongings can be brought from her house to Jon's house, so the kids arrive for visitation [at Jon's] in their school uniforms and change into clothes Jon has for them when they get to his house," the insider explained. "Then they put their uniforms back on before heading to their mom's house."
It seemed like Kate was doing everything in her power to keep the kids away from Jon, even if they wanted to be with him. She even called the police on her ex-husband when he went to pick up their daughter at the dentist, at the request of the child.
"The call came in at 1:10 this afternoon for a verbal domestic argument ... over the custody of one of their 13-year-old daughters," a Wyomissing Police Department spokesperson told Entertainment Tonight. "No one was arrested and the daughter did go home with the father after she expressed that was her desire to do."
The thought was that Kate was just struggling to balance her personal life with her reality show, not to mention a budding romance with her body guard, Steve Neild. All the stress seemed to really get to her head, making her even more controlling than before. Kate tried to keep her relationship with Neild on the down-low, hoping to not make a spectacle. Of course, when it came out that the body guard was already married, it's not hard to see why.
Now, however, it seems as though Kate has moved on. And while she's attempted to keep the news of her love life private, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
The New Show
Kate Gosselin announced that she's got a new reality TV show coming out, which will focus exclusively on her love life. Kate Plus Date will feature Kate trying to find a partner while still raising eight kids, although two of them will be going away.
"As we're talking about Mady and Cara going off to college which is becoming more and more of a reality, it's gonna happen, it almost became like a worry for them, too, like "˜Mommy, you're gonna be all alone soon,'" Kate says. "But it was very apparent, now that they're older and talking about dating and how they're all gonna get married someday ... it became apparent: they want someone for me. They want me to have somebody in my life."
TLC will work with a matchmaker to make sure that whoever Kate gets set up with is right for her. The mom of eight says it's really the best way to do it.
"If I'm going to date someone, I can't just go out on a date "” it's creepy to me to think of just going out somewhere with some stranger, and so I actually feel like doing it like this is the best and safest way for me to go on a date "” a camera crew will be there! I'll be safe!" she says. "And the person will have been vetted by a matchmaker. I won't be just doing some scary online thing. I mean, online dating, seriously "” I put my profile in there and people will know who it is within 90 seconds. No, this is probably the safest way for me to date, let's be honest."
What She Wants
In classic Kate Gosselin fashion, she wants to maintain some type of control while also being "breezy."
"I'm not sure [what I want]," she admitted. "I'm open: whoever they match me with, I'm game."
She then went on to give a list of qualities she's looking for.
"I do want someone with a set career, who is confident. A grown-up with their own life, their own agenda, who knows who they are. If someone travels for work, that would be great, because I'm used to being on my own and being self-sufficient, someone who won't suffocate me," she requested.
But one thing she's not looking for is a step-father for her kids.
"[He] won't be my kids' dad. [I] would love my kids to have a mutual friendship and respect with this guy and for him to be someone they can ask for advice. It would be great for my kids to have someone they can feel like is a real friend."
It may seem out of the blue for Kate to start dating (and documenting it on television) but the 43-year-old reality star says it's the wake-up call she needed.
"[I] started picturing myself sitting in a rocking chair, knitting, and words like "˜old maid' and "˜spinster' started to come to mind, and I realized that no, I don't want that to be my fate," Kate admitted. "I stopped focusing on myself "” I used to be a runner, and all of these things sort of fell by the wayside, and I sort of forgot about the dating thing. It's never really fit into my life."
Despite being out of the dating game for a while, Kate says she's excited.
"I'm nervous, I'm excited, and I'm forcing myself to do this," she said.
Say what you will about the Gosselin matriarch, but she's done a great job of keeping her kids out of trouble and doing what's best for them. She deserves to have a love life as much as the next person. The show will air on TLC this fall.