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Photos: Jon and Kate Gosselin

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  1. CHICAGO, IL - JULY 22: Kate Gosselin takes part in the 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon at Grant Park on July 22, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images) (Timothy Hiatt / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. (Health Communications, Incorpora) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Back to work

    Reality TV star Kate Gosselin has a new job -- working for a money-saving coupon website. She will be contributing blog posts to offer money-saving advice and shopping tips to CouponCabin.com. Gosselin is seen here on her first day at the new job, Nov. 11, 2011. (CouponCabin.com via Splash) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Kate Gosselin and her eight children on "Kate Plus 8." (Clark Mccarthy-miller / TLC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A fresh start

    Gosselin appears on stage Thursday, April 8, 2010, in New York to introduce her new show "Twist of Kate." TLC said the show will revolve around Gosselin "meeting real families in the middle of their own extraordinary challenges." (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. ***EXCLUSIVE*** DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Episode 1002" - In week two of "Dancing with the Stars," all of the couples returned to dance their second routines in a two-hour show, MONDAY, MARCH 29 (8:00-10:02 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) TONY DOVOLANI, KATE GOSSELIN (Kelsey Mcneal / ABC via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Showing a new side

    Gosselin, left, and her partner Tony Dovolani perform on "Dancing with the Stars," on Monday, March 29, 2010 in Los Angeles. In order to compete on the ABC show and spend as much time as possible with her kids, she built a dance studio in her basement of the family's Pa. home. (Adam Larkey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Turning the page

    Gosselin is shown on the cover of her memoir, "I Just Want You to Know," which was released by Zondervan Books. In the book she opens up about her marriage to Jon Gosselin and talks about the pressures of motherhood and the hardships of stardom. On the TODAY show in New York on Tuesday, April 13, she told Meredith Vieira that she wanted to write it to give her kids "advice for the future." (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Lending a hand

    Jon Gosselin and girlfriend Morgan Christie attend the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 22, 2010. The two are shown visiting Resource's Sky Suite Lounge, where he participated in the Blanket America campaign to give blankets to poverty-stricken Americans. The couple reportedly split in March. (Jerritt Clark / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Time to pay up

    Jon Gosselin walks past reporters after he exited the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Oct. 13, 2009. In the court proceeding, Gosselin was ordered to repay $180,000 that he took from the joint account he shares with estranged wife Kate Gosselin. Kate and Jon's divorce was finalized in December 2009. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Rough seas?

    Kate Gosselin and her children ride a ferry during an episode of TLC's "Jon & Kate PLus 8." The network shut down filming of the show on Oct. 1, 2009 after receiving a cease-and-desist order from Jon Gosselin. The reality dad told Larry King he had “an epiphany one day” and realized his 5-year-old sextuplets and 8-year-old twins shouldn’t be filmed at the family’s Pennsylvania home while their parents are going through a divorce. (TLC) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Milestone moment

    Jon and Kate Gosselin help their sextuplets get ready to board a bus for their first day of school in Reading, Pa., on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009. The 5-year-olds -- Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel -- are attending junior kindergarten three days a week. (Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Kate's dudes

    Kate Gosselin sports a pink cowgirl hat while visiting a dude ranch in 2009 in Wyoming with Collin, Aaden and Joel. The boys rode horses, chased goats and were utterly fascinated by the ranch, musing that the horses looked like cows. (TLC) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Reduced to tears

    Kate Gosselin dries her eyes during her interview on the TODAY show in New York on Monday, Aug. 10, 2009. Kate said her marriage to Jon would have failed whether it played out in the glare of a reality TV show or not. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Public affection

    Jon Gosselin and girlfriend Hailey Glassman are spotted together in Harriman State Park in New York on Monday, July 20, 2009. The two were hugging each other, holding hands and at one point Glassman put a flower behind Jon's ear. Glassman is the daughter of Harry Glassman, the doctor who performed Kate Gosselin's tummy tuck. (Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Unwelcome spotlight

    Celebrity magazines featuring Kate Gosselin are seen on a table in Lotus Salon in Wernersville, Pa., on May 28, 2009. The Gosselins have attracted a huge television audience with their TLC program "Jon & Kate Plus 8." As news of marital trouble gained traction, so did the tabloid coverage. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Seemingly happy family

    Jon and Kate Gosselin -- with twins Cara and Mady in center -- celebrate the fifth birthday of the sextuplets on May 17, 2009. Jon and Kate reportedly arrived separately. ''Marriages can crumble very easily. I'm not dumb," Kate said. "Ours has 500 times the stress of a normal marriage.'' (Michael Pilla / TLC via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Her reality

    A TLC camera crew shoots footage of one of the Gosselin children at the family's Reading, Pa., home. Pennsylvania's Labor Department opened an investigation in the summer of 2009 into whether "Jon & Kate Plus 8" is complying with state child labor laws. TLC said it "fully complies" with state laws and regulations. (Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Eight is enough

    Kate Gosselin attends a signing for her books "Eight Little Faces" and "Multiple Bles8ings" at Barnes & Noble in Glendale, Calif., on April 14. (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Ready for their closeup

    John and Kate Gosselin attend a Discovery Upfront presentation to promote their show in New York on April 23, 2008. Five seasons of the much-watched program follow the Gosselins through their daily lives and the challenges of raising multiple children. (Thos Robinson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Before the storm

    Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight kids appear on the TODAY show in New York on Oct. 2, 2007. Almost two years later, with her marriage in pieces, Kate told Meredith Vieira, "I am as well as can be expected. I’m determined to hang in there. What life hands me, I’m going to do. My focus still is the health and well-being of my children as well as myself." (Heidi Gutman / NBC NewsWire) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Aloha

    Jon and Kate Gosselin renewed their wedding vows in Maui, Hawaii, in August 2008. The couple originally married on June 12, 1999. On June 22, 2009, proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to end their 10-year marriage. The episode announcing their separation and divorce drew a record 10.6 million viewers to "Jon & Kate Plus 8." (Mark Arbeit / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 10/12/2009 9:56:40 AM ET 2009-10-12T13:56:40
COMMENTARY

"Jon and Kate Plus Eight" may still be airing, but the TLC series is all but over. Ironically, the show has finally become what everyone has always wanted and craved: the chronicle of a relationship's meltdown and destruction.

The dirty little secret of TLC's popular docudrama reality series "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" is that it never really was about the eight. It's always really been about Jon and Kate's relationship, and the entertainment has come from watching them navigate the lives they'd made for themselves.

At first, that life involved being parents to eight kids, twins and sextuplets, which had its own complications and difficulties. As the televised version of their lives became more and more commercial — a special turned into a Discovery Health series, which eventually moved to TLC — viewership increased, and the focus became more obviously about the parents with kids than the kids and their parents.

Simultaneously, Kate and Jon's lives became increasingly public and commodified, with camera crews invading their personal space and product placement beginning to involve their kids. Later, paparazzi and the media started paying attention. The now-daily saga continues in the tabloid press and the non-tabloid press, with enough allegations and revelations to fill a tabloid by themselves.

The latest round of volleying between the separated couple has been about their finances. It's ugly, but it's also what been what viewers have always wanted to know, the dirty little secrets, like how much money they've really made from the show ($1 million last year, according to Jon).

As the drama ramped up, more viewers came, and their desire for even more Jon and Kate drama fueled the media, which pressed harder, and that whole vicious cycle continued until it all imploded: Jon was photographed with women who were not Kate; Jon and Kate separated, intending to divorce; TLC announced it would drop Jon from the show; Jon threatened to have camera crews arrested for trespassing and effectively ended production on the series, at least for now.

Relationship was compelling because it was awful
This is what happens when you turn yourself into entertainment, when you let boundaries collapse so you can get still more money and more attention and more fame. The marital separation and ongoing battle is an obvious consequence, but one that was inevitable. The more pressure that was piled on their relationship, the more unstable it became.

Kate said on TODAY that the dissolution of her relationship with Jon "would have happened anyway, cameras on, cameras off."

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings That may be hard to believe, but not if you watched the series, where Kate's controlling dismissal of her husband and Jon's passive aggressiveness made for compelling television but an awful relationship. Watching them sit together but apart on that infamous couch during interview segments had more tension than most blockbuster thrillers. And this was real.

In an episode that aired earlier this year, Kate said "I'm gonna shoot him" after Jon failed to use a coupon to buy a new shower head for their multi-million dollar home. Moments like that made for great television, and people kept watching, culminating in record viewership for TLC this summer during the episode when Jon and Kate announced they were divorcing.

As always, viewers take sides: Jon's apologies for his dating life and his parenting seemed like a genuine mea culpa, but Kate's claim that he took money from their bank account swung favor back her way. And on and on it goes.

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End the show for the kids
Kate regularly insists that everything she's done has been for her kids, and there's no reason to doubt that, nor to doubt either her or Jon's commitment as parents to eight pretty great and amusing kids.

The real question is what impact those actions are having on those kids, besides establishing a financially secure future for them.

Child stars who grew up with less public scrutiny have crumbled under the weight of the attention and fame. Reality show cast members from MTV's "Real World" have talked about being paranoid about being followed by cameras once they were back home, and they're adults whose time in front of the cameras lasted for a few months, not years.

All along, the Gosselin eight are and have always been just an excuse used by the world to become voyeurs in the lives and relationship of their parents. They've been used as pawns by everyone from TLC to their parents; Kate recently said the kids "are angry" that the crew isn't there filming after Jon's threats ended production.

Not having familiar people around may have upset the kids, but for their sake, the show — onscreen and off — needs to end now. Depriving us of entertainment will give them back their lives.

Andy Dehnart is a writer, TV critic, and editor of reality blurred. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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