How Perfect Do Reality TV Moms and Dads Have to Be?
It's not enough to be super mom or super dad anymore. You've got to be super parent and super couple, too -- at least on reality TV.
Face it. It’s not a fun time to be living in the Reality TV bubble.
As Jennifer Wilson-Speedy has noted, even Jon and Kate Gosselin -- the stars of Jon & Kate Plus 8 -- have fallen out of favor with the the ever-fickle viewing public (a public that continues to be rather unforgiving of parents who make mistakes).
Here’s the thing. In order to immerse themselves in the reality show experience, fans have to buy into the fantasy that the producers are selling them: in this case, that Jon and Kate are not only capable of surviving the pressures of raising eight very young children: their family and marriage are thriving.
Of course, there’s also the matter of the very unrealistic lifestyle being portrayed (at least as compared to Joe and Jane Average). Jon and Kate and their kids do fun and exciting things, like going on outings and taking trips. They don't stay home and deal with the hassles of getting the kids to daycare and doctors' appointments. That wouldn't make for very exciting TV. (Can you imagine an entire episode where the siblings are fighting in the waiting room at the dentists' office or wriggling in line at the bank? That would be bonafide Reality TV, but it wouldn't attract much of an audience (or, more critically, any sponsors). That's the irony of reality TV, isn't it: reality TV has become anything but.)
And so the viewing public appears to be falling out of love with Jon and Kate. It could be that shows about people who appear to be independently wealthy or whose lifestyle is being bankrolled by corporations simply doesn’t play as well in recessionary times.
There’s also the Octomom backlash to consider. Nadia Sulleman's pregnancy made people stop and ask questions about fertility drugs and family size in a way they really hadn't before. If we're starting to think about ways to walk more lightly on the planet, reality shows featuring families with huge families might not exactly be in tune with the times.
Could it be that the gossip magazines were just waiting for an excuse to pounce on one of reality TV’s once-favored families?
Here’s the sad truth.
Reality shows have a tendency to devour their participants. Did we honestly think things would be any different for Jon and Kate: that they'd be granted immunity forever?
If we did, perhaps we’re the ones who need a reality TV check.