Watching the Gosselin family crumble on reality TV


America has gone Gosselin-crazy as of late watching the family starring on "Jon & Kate Plus 8" crumble before our eyes. The family, which includes sextuplets and twins age 8 and under, saw their rise to fame on the popular TLC reality TV show and now they are facing the consequences of the horrid road to popularity. And now they can't escape its wrath.

In case you aren't obsessively following this family's story, the Gosselins signed up for the show in 2007 to document their unique life raising multiples. After free cosmetic surgeries, vacations and all sorts of goodies associated with the fame, the couple now is rarely seen together and could be heading for divorce. During the season premiere last week, the husband and wife weren't even seen interacting.

In a USA Today story about the consequences of reality TV stardom, one University of Minnesota professor chimes in about past examples America failed to learn from.

William Doherty, a professor in the college of education and human development at the University of Minnesota, spoke to USA Today about the American tradition of reality TV gawking at real families facing painful and real situations as they fall apart. Previous reality shows about families show evidence that constant filming doesn't make their relationships stronger. If anything, it pulls everyone apart.

From USA Today:

In 1973, when PBS aired what's generally considered the first reality show, An American Family, about the Louds of Santa Barbara, Calif., "the whole country watched them fell apart," says William Doherty, a professor in the college of education and human development at the University of Minnesota. "We forgot that cultural lesson -- this kind of putting a family under a microscope often destroys what we're looking at."

His advice? "Do what they can to try to save their marriage" by getting the third parties -- viewers, producers, celebrity journalists -- out of the picture.

But as they continue with the show, their marriage is at risk, Doherty says. "Family therapists like to talk about triangulation: When a couple is having problems, each likes to bring in a third party to help take sides. Here, the whole nation is getting triangled, which is never good."

The couple won't escape the spotlight anytime soon. TLC president and general manager Eileen O'Neill told USA Today that the family "committed" to the series. Isn't there a point where a family's sanity becomes more important to American than our ability to gawk?