“We have decided we will separate,” Kate Gosselin announced about 42 minutes into the “bombshell” June 22 episode of “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
Now that the mystery marital status of Jon and Kate Gosselin has been solved, the only remaining question is what we can expect to see on the show.
When hope disappears, so do ratings
One thing that’s true about television, no matter the genre, is that happy doesn’t dependably sell. Good television requires some conflict; when swords rattle to the same tune of blissful agreement, it’s impossible to keep viewers’ interest.
That said, when you can’t squint for at least a glimmer of hope, you’re probably shifting your gaze toward another channel. Where the couple and the show's ratings are concerned, a separation is a good thing, for no other reason than the possibility that it could all still work out.
If it becomes painfully obvious that divorce is the only option, viewers will tune out. Jon and Kate — and their plus 8 — are more appealing as a collective unit than they are diced into divorce-sized, made-for-TV portions.
Meet Jon, your newest C-list celeb
One upshot of the recession is that the C-list celebrity has largely gone the way of the hedge fund. C-listers aren’t as ubiquitous as they were just a year ago, and they aren’t just collecting money by virtue of the fact they exist.
However, Jon stands to change the game. His Barneys Co-op shopping trips have already been paparazzi fodder (not to mention his late-night outings with an alleged flame), he’s been spotted in splashy Ed Hardy garb (the designer who courted Madonna and later Britney Spears), and several Manhattan-based PR firms are said to be looking into placing him, a newly single New York transplant, into some of the city’s more publicity-hungry clubs.
Jon may now be moving into a world that has less to do with his family and more to do with his own personal fame, whether he realizes it now or not.
We wait for Kate to make a misstep
All eyes might look like they’re on Jon, with his fascinating new bachelor-y Big Apple lifestyle, but the truth of the matter is that viewers want to know when Kate crosses the line.
There is some expectation that a man might be — or become — a bad dad. That’s why Alec Baldwin can leave a cruel voicemail for his young daughter and still come out mostly unscathed.
But a bad mother? That’s the stuff television and public perceptions are made of. The “plus 8” will be considered to be adjusting well right up until the point Kate spends a romantic weekend without the kids. The standards for a mother, single are not, are different. And the difference is only magnified once it’s broadcast in HD.
And perhaps I misspoke. There is another question to be had: Why didn’t Jon and Kate just walk away from the cameras when they had the chance? Television and its perks are fleeting. Family, on the other hand, does not have to be.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.