You may not believe this, but I planned my latest print column, on the fecund families of cable’s we-have-a-jillion-kids reality shows, well before the latest explosion over Jon & Kate Plus 8’s Jon Gosselin’s female “friend”:
The downsizing of fictional TV families left a gap that cable has happily filled. But where the Bradys et al. stressed the families’ normality, the TLC shows are all about extreme parenting. Things as simple as family movie night, a dentist visit and a beach trip become quasi-military operations. Just watching Table for 12’s Hayes family disable the antitheft packaging on 70 Christmas presents makes this father-of-two’s hands hurt.
In a bad economy, the shows have a hot-button appeal. Today TLC’s shows make literal a cold truth: that deciding how many kids to have is about not just love but also money. (One side effect of the recession: vasectomies have skyrocketed.) …
Can’t get enough? Jon & Kate returns—now with added train-wreck appeal—later in the month; WE will premiere Raising Sextuplets next month; and Bravo is making a reality show about a Manhattan family with seven kids—who used to be real estate flippers! If only they also owned a cake shop, that would be the cable reality-TV trifecta.