Most of us originally tuned in to watch Jon & Kate Plus Eight out of sheer morbid curiosity. How does one manage a house with eight kids under the age of 4? We all have our own stories and disasters just dealing with one or two kids, but eight?! So we watch and it turns out that we like these people. We like their adorable kids. We like them because they are just like us with all the bickering, love pats, rolled eyes and mixture of complete adoration and utter frustration when dealing with the kids. They live modestly, dress in sweats and tshirts, and struggle with balancing schedules and time. They are real. Their lives are our lives. It is comforting knowing somebody out there goes through what we go through, only more chaotic and stressful.
But seasons pass and things start to change. They start becoming less real. While we look down at our stretch marks and greying hair, they are getting free tummy tucks and hair implants. At first we are happy for them. Hell, she gave birth to 6 humans at one time, she deserves to get rid of that excess skin! But then there are more changes. Hair styles are funkier, clothes hipper, nannies abound and free luxurious holidays are provided. Things no longer feel real. Teeth are whitened to the extreme and suddenly high heels worn around the house are the norm. This is the exact opposite of my life. These are now ‘celebreties’ living in million dollar houses, getting fancy cars and appearing on Oprah. We no longer recognize ourselves in them. We even envy them. We envy their money and style and luxury. Which means we also resent them. We think “Well I’m nicer than Kate” or “I’m funnier than Jon” so why not me? What makes them so special?
The media (aka Tabloids) pick up on this change in mentality immediately. They know they can find dirt. Hell, they can create drama. They see dollar signs. The people, us ordinary citizens, respond immediately and buy these magazines. We like knowing that maybe their lives are not as perfect as it appears on tv. We are making them real again. We are bringing them back to our reality. Where things are messy and dirty. If we have to argue about finances and chores, it’s only fair that they too have something to argue about too. We don’t necessarily want it to be about affairs and scandal but since it is, it makes for fantastic reading.
Thus the vicious cycle of Jon and Kate continues. Their ‘realness’ made them popular. Popularity gave them opportunities they took advantage of to benefit their kids. Unlimited opportunity made them less real so people could no longer relate to them. People craved to see some cracks in their lives if only to make their own lives feel better. So the cracks open. Wide. Which makes many really sad for the family. Thus curious for more information about them. Igniting more drama. Initiating more pain. Continuing the curiosity and meddling. But the thing is, at the end of the day, we want a happy ending. We want them to reunite. Only not by some elaborate fantasy Hawaiian wedding that is unattainable to the non-celebrity. Maybe just by taking the show off the air. And working their asses off to make it work on a daily basis. Like all us real families do every day.
Perhaps we should be looking inward, instead of the grocery store tabloids, to understand why we care in the first place. Why is it our nature to categorize people into hierarchies of better than me, less than me, equal to and thus worthy of our respect. Why not respect successes without envy or judgement. Why not respect failures without criticism or pity. Maybe we just need to turn the tv off. Avoid the tabloids screaming at us in line. And work our asses off to love our own lives fully, completely and without any need to comparison shop.