Saturday, April 15, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Sweet 16": Mady turns 16. Cara picks lint.

Coming up on Kate Plus 8. Mady turns 16. Cara picks lint.

They show a lot of sweet photos and clips of the girls growing up, some I don't remember seeing before. You would almost be fooled into thinking this is a nice family with twins with no screaming and hollering going on. This is a time for Kate to reflect all about herself.  Ultimately Kate doesn't worry about the twins because she knows they will make good decisions. Kind of like their decision not to see their father?

Kate gives the girls Gator driving lessons. Wait, I swear the kids were driving the Gator a year ago when they first got this. Now they get lessons?

Like so many other teens I've encountered these days, oddly, Mady doesn't really care much about getting her license. Kind of a, I'll get it when I get it attitude. She doesn't go anywhere really except school and home. Sad.

My theory on this, and it's totally a theory, is that kids today are so much better connected with their peers than we were as kids, and therefore, don't feel that compelling drive (I can make dumb puns too just like Kate) to get behind the wheel and hit the road. We had to learn to drive, because there was no texting or iPhones, and when we called Ashley's house on the good ole fashioned telephone, we either got the answering machine, or were told by her slightly annoyed mother, sorry she can't talk now she's doing her homework/at scouts/at soccer/practicing the trumpet/being punished. I never met a teen in my class who wasn't gunning to drive. We had to get going behind the wheel to drive to each other or risk never connecting with each other again outside the hours of 7:30am to 2:30pm. A 2017 kid can text Ashley, FaceTime, instagram and snapchat her, and get instant feedback from Ashley, and therefore doesn't feel as compelled to get in the car and drive somewhere to meet up with Ashley. The need teens have is simply to connect to peers and exchange feedback. It's clear that connection doesn't have to be in person just so long as they're getting a lot of it and it's instant. I like my theory, personally.

What does "over-start" the gator mean? I don't understand over-start. This has to be fake, Mady driving into the plants. Or Mady is driving erratically purposely for attention.

Cara says the most she has said all season, in that she actually used to think she would like to get her license because she would like to be able to drive herself over to Lancaster (where their school is) for lacrosse and such, but then she found out that apparently, she is not going to ever be allowed to drive that far. Forbidden by Kate, presumably. And therein lies one of the stupidest reasons ever to send them to a private school so far away. It's too far. So many of us warned that this commute was going to be a beast, especially when they got older and had to get themselves to school more often and for longer days and establish a group of friends over on that side of town that they want to see outside of school or even sometimes have to see, for school projects and study groups. And there it is. And sadly, Cara is losing out on valuable practice time behind the wheel while she is still under an adult's supervision. Practice time that is crucial and can be the difference between a teen ending up in a horrific accident before they are 20, or getting through the most dangerous years on the road unscathed. A public school or even a private school five to ten miles away would be close enough to make most parents comfortable with their child driving that distance, while still giving them practice time on the road. A shame.

I really don't know how much value a driving lesson on a Gator is to driving a real car in real traffic. They'll be ready to whiz around their retirement neighborhood in Florida someday, but little else.

Moving on to planning the party, Kate and Mady fight endlessly over ideas they're looking at on their MacBooks. Looks like Pinterest. Mady hates all of Kate's ideas for the party. In this case, since we know Kate has no style or taste, I'm thinking we have nothing to lose leaving this to Mady. Kate keeps trying to micromanage this, while Mady obviously would prefer to make the calls and is proud to plan it herself. Mady is sixteen years old. At this age, couldn't her mother just give her a budget to spend, a couple hundred bucks or whatever, and let her do this on her own? Mady wants to, she gets enjoyment out of party planning, and it's good for a child this age to take on such a major responsibility. And if Mady slips up and forget something important like the forks, then so be it. That's part of learning how to plan things responsibly, a life skill.

Three days before the party they're meeting with a baker about the cake? That's cutting it awfully close. I don't buy that. This episode feels more staged than usual.

Cara is really resisting helping to plan, won't give an opinion on anything, and doesn't even really want a party. She sounds self-conscious and reserved, easily embarrassed, which is normal for many teens that age. It's funny, because some teens like Mady want nothing but attention, to be the star of the high school play. Others want just the opposite, and would be mortified to have to go on stage or anything of the like. That was me, and I remember that feeling where you were embarrassed even to say you preferred chocolate cake over vanilla. God knows where that comes from but thankfully most teens outgrow it. It seems like teens are usually one extreme or the other. What doesn't make any sense is why a reserved teen would want anything to do with filming. My hunch is, she sure as hell doesn't and is being forced to comply, so she resists in any way she can, including refusing to say much on the couch or cooperate with things like party planning.

Mady has bullied her way into holding the reins here, which is what you have to do when your mother is Kate. Heh, I like how much it bothers Kate to have no say in things. Like watching someone who can't reach an itch in the middle of their back.

Another shopping trip to some kind of craft store. Kate says something like Mady wants to control things for the sake of controlling them, whatever that means. And doesn't that really more aptly describe Kate? This conversation about how Mady and Kate disagree over how to decorate for the party feels like it's going on hours. I can't anymore.

Finally they take two full carts of booty to the checkout for the company credit card, plus some Junior Mints. I always get flashbacks to that classic show Supermarket Sweep when I watch Kate shop on the company card. She tossed those Junior Mints into the cart like they are the special bonus item of the day worth $150. You should always focus on going after the bonus items and make sure to grind the coffee and get the frozen yogurt first. Don't be a fool wasting time on the turkeys, that's for chumps. Such a good show.

The day of the birthday, Kate is running around the house in a total panic. She starts taking out salmon for 20-30 salmon burgers and laments about how it's supposed to be foggy and rainy and this will ruin everything. Well, you planned a birthday party for the outdoors in Pennsylvania in October. Odds are the weather will stink. Why on earth didn't you have a Plan B you could easily turn to, like, I don't know, move the party to inside the house if the weather is bad? She really is a helpless twelve-year-old.

I'm kind of speechless at this next part because it's just so nuts on every level. Kate calls up her "friends" Chrissy and Todd. Remember them? They own the beef jerky place they agreed to be promoted on the sextuplets' birthday episode. Kate knows they have some kind of party room at their store, whatever that means, calls them up, and asks them if they could have the twins'  party at their store due to the weather. I think that's such an incredible thing to ask of someone at the last minute that I'm embarrassed. And remember, she's not just asking them to have 20-30 people over, but also to bring in a whole film crew to their store and film there. Wha? Why not just have it at the Mcmansion, inside? What's the point in buying a mansion like this if you don't have room indoors for a simple party of 20-30 people? Plus, hauling all the party crap they bought to a different location is a huge chore. Shaking my head.

And what are the odds that Chrissy and Todd just happened to be available that very afternoon to have 20-30 people over last minute? Don't most normal families with kids usually have plans over the holiday weekend? Like I said, this episode feels staged. I think all along they were going to have it at Chrissy and Todd's if it rained.

Kate quickly realizes a location change is a logistical nightmare. Of course it is. The kids are upset at how stressed out she is, as they should be. Even Mady, who sometimes can bring the drama, is like, what is the big freaking deal? We have a location now, the food is being cooked as we speak, it doesn't matter. Why on earth didn't she make the salmon the day before? That easily could have been done yesterday, it'll keep. Or pick some other food you can make the day before. Or heaven forbid order a bunch of pizzas and make it easy on yourself. Kate does this purposely I'm convinced, intentionally makes things as difficult as possible on herself. It's a martyr complex, maybe.

Ha, when Kate goes on about how she can't just show up at the party in work clothes and no makeup, Mady says no one is going to care if she's not there. Uh, actually, that's true. This is a party for 16-year-old girls, not their mothers. Nobody will notice whose mother is where or when. You just don't care at that age. Kate randomly launches into a bizarre rant looking straight into the camera, globs of sweat dotting her forehead, about how she does not have a nanny or housekeeper or hired help. Number one, yes you do, and it's all on film. Number two, grow up, Kate. If you don't have a nanny or housekeeper at the moment, get one. You can afford it. That's not our fault you allegedly don't have help that day for whatever reason. And she doesn't even need to pay people to not be so overwhelmed with this party. If one had friends and family, one could ask their best friends, their sister and sister-in-laws, their mother, and so on, to come on over. Something tells me the likes of women she has discarded like Beth and Jodi would have been all too happy to come over and help out today. And what about Jon? It's her choice not to get along with him for one day and put on a party together for the children they made together when they were once in love. Lots of divorced couples do this for their children all the time. Unfortunate.

Mady has to point out to Kate that a party is supposed to be fun. Making salmon burgers, party planning, picking up flowers, is all supposed to be fun. You might be confused who is the adult and who is the child here, but Kate is supposed to be the adult. There's so much yelling and whining about the stupidest things, I cannot even imagine growing up in this house. You know what's interesting is that over and over Kate has emphasized how she just wants this to be perfect on this special day which is why she's having a meltdown, and over and over Mady and even Cara have told her that it's okay. Maybe the twins didn't articulate it quite clearly so doofus could understand it, but I'm not getting the impression at all the twins are demanding this be "perfect." They just want to have a good time and be with their friends. Kate doesn't listen or pay attention to what her children are saying or what they really need. If she did, she would understand that what's far more important to the twins and all her children is that this day is chill and happy. "Perfect" is not what anybody else is after but doofus here. In fact if she would breathe for a second, she would realize that sometimes the most imperfect things make the best memories. The laugh you had when the icing stuck to the lid of the cake box, how muddy everyone got splashing in puddles when the party got rained on, the way Auntie's car wouldn't start when it was time to leave and she had to spend the night and you stayed up late with popcorn and a Disney movie with her. The best memories are often made in life's little hiccups and imperfections, aren't they?

I don't think it's unfair to say that Kate has ruined so many special things for her children like birthdays with her insanity, and this 16th birthday is no exception.

By the way, the house is incredibly cluttered. Random papers, bins, gadgets sitting out, all kinds of miscellaneous stuff. You couldn't even sit at the dining room table if you wanted to. It's always like this, not just before parties. You know, it's not a capital offense to be cluttered, but sometimes, it can contribute to a stressful household, especially if there is already so much stress there already. Everyone might feel a lot better if she would just put stuff away.

Kate thinks that Mady being so parentified by comforting her lunatic mother is "adorable." Oh, brother.

Where's Colin? Just saying.

So, back to the beef jerky change-up, how are they going to make sure 20-30 people know about this sudden location change? Who worked up the permits for this so fast, and what are the odds that the jerky place just happened to be totally available today on a holiday weekend? This is more fake than ever, not that this show isn't fake to begin with.

Nothing happens during this next part except a dress got steamed for a child who doesn't appreciate what a pain that is, and the twins call Kate "Mother" again. I love when they do that.

Kate says the younger children can't come to the party because there is not enough space in the venue. I don't have a problem with that. No teenager wants their kid brothers and sisters at their party. They can do a more intimate family party later and include the sextuplets. What I find hilarious, though, is that Kate just went on a tirade letting us know that contrary to popular belief she does not have a nanny! So who the heck stayed with the younger kids last minute while Kate and the twins were gone? They're a little young to be left by themselves all afternoon. If only to make sure someone is after them to do their homework and that no one burns the house down making grilled cheese.

Kate sure has a sudden group of old friends from various places like lamaze class of all things. Who are all these seemingly nice, down-to-earth people and their pretty daughters and why doesn't Kate contact them when she's feeling so overwhelmed to help her out? Does she not understand this is what a good girlfriend would be happy to do, help out their overwhelmed friend? Is she afraid if she asks for help she'll be asked to return the favor at some point? Or are these people really not all that close friends perhaps? Does she just like the drama and martyrdom of doing it without help? She had no problem letting Jon do it all. So many questions in this episode, and no answers.

Another complaint about TLCgo. Halfway through this episode, about now, when they were showing more endless ads, their ad for Amazon prime froze the rest of the video. Thinking it a glitch, I refreshed it. Went through all the ads again, because they make you, and the Amazon prime froze the darn thing again! After giving it one more try to the same results, I switched over to a bootleg copy found on Youtube. TLCgo is a hot mess. Take it down and re-write the code because it's garbage.

Some marginally handsome dude named Ronnie shows up. Maybe in his late 20's. Kate identifies him as their hair stylist and dear friend from NYC. They have a lot of dear friends who don't actually live in their town, don't they? Both the twins absolutely adore him. Maybe it's me, but this lovey-dovey relationship seems a little odd. I'm all for kids having older mentors, but the hair stylist? I think I would feel better about it if I knew they also had people in their lives they ran to like that like a grandma, or an Aunt Jodi, or a special Sunday school teacher or scout leader. Their circle is just not rounded out with the normal people one would expect a child to really adore and look up to, and it's strange and unfortunate. This guy is not going to be there for these kids through thick and thin as they go through life, like a relative or other close friend would be. It's fun now because he's just starting his career and befriending celebrity families, but he'll settle in soon and realize he has no time for this latching on nonsense and move on.

Mady lets loose that Ronnie was the best surprise ever, except for her laptop. So, she got a laptop for her birthday? This family can finagle a hair stylist and a laptop for a birthday present but not basic day-to-day hired help? Huh.

Back at the ranch, Kate sends an ice cream food truck to pay the younger kids a visit because she felt guilty they couldn't be at the party. Is this for real? The cost of a private food truck visit is outrageous. The way this woman pisses away money then turns around and complains she lacks basic rich people things like a housekeeper, is bizarre. 

This next part has a huge back story to it that I'm only going to summarize ever so briefly, in part because I don't even remember all the details of it, but folks can feel free to elaborate on it in the comments. And that is guess who is watching the kids? A fan! A creepy one too! This is so f-ed up! She's known around these parts as Brownie. On this blog there is a wealth of information about her and her creepy antics that goes back, I'm not even joking, until at least 2011. I did a quick google search of the blog for her, and found some posts to highlight about her. One, from an old poster Red Sky at Night, was talking about how Brownie was incessantly tweeting Kate about meeting up, having coffee with her, seeing NYC with her, and that Kate would just ignore her. And then there were the posts and posts about the expired cereal incident, as explained by good ole poster No Regrets, who said Brownie was going on and on about how she only spent 95 cents a box instead of five bucks, and 21 boxes were for Kate. "Just reading that woman is exhausting," remarked No Regrets. LOL!

I guess crazy as she sounds on twitter, Brownie actually has a legitimate job in real life as an art teacher. (Allegedly. I mean, I could say I'm an art teacher, too. Doesn't make it so.) But how in the holy f--- did she end up not only on this show but watching the kids alone??? How do you go from, I'm a creepy pest on Twitter, to, and now I'm the babysitter left alone with the kids?! What a hot mess. John Lennon, Kate. Jodi Foster. Rebecca Schaeffer. Wake the F up.

Also, another big fat clue that this whole "rained out birthday party oh noooes!" was all staged? How did Kate so quickly set up an art teacher to come stay with the sextuplets and arrange for a food truck to swing by? Gimme an ever loving break. I also find it to be an absolutely glaring omission that Kate doesn't mention, oh by the way, Brownie is just a fan I met on twitter. She paints a rosy picture like this is some art teacher perhaps from school or they met at scouts, and that's just nonsense, a lie. If you're going to be so unbelievably stupid as to allow your fans to have unfettered access to your children like this, at least be honest about it. Also, who thinks Brownie has been angling for a role on this show for years? I betchya a whole lot of DM's were exchanged before this finally happened. This really takes the cake brownie!

Creepy Brownie fan is in the bathroom with Aaden, washing off paint from his face. Good Lord. At least she's a teacher, allegedly, so at least we know someone, somewhere, has done some kind of background check on her at some point, one hopes.

I think this was the episode that got decent ratings out of the rest of the dismal season, and I kind of see why now. It's actually a tiny bit interesting in that it's so....unbelievably.....insane.

The twins lament that the younger kids can say very mean and nasty things. The twins are just as nasty, so I don't really think they should talk.

I can't stand when adults totally exaggerate a child's accomplishments. Brownie calls the actually somewhat messy paint job the kids did on picture frames for the twins "phenomenal." No, it was mostly just mediocre, not even close to phenomenal. And, a lot of the kids were goofing off, messing around during the project, which is not good behavior when one is trying to focus and paint something nice for their sisters. I daresay some of them didn't even try, and Brownie isn't about to be hard on them lest she mess up this once in a lifetime gig. Even some of the kids admit they stink at painting. In any case, a "good job" is sufficient and doesn't give kids an inflated sense of their own crappy skills. Next thing you know you've got some delusional kid setting his sights on majoring in the arts when at best all he can throw together is an ugly finger painting.

Swish back to the Pinterest party. Salmon burgers, and, pesto spaghetti? That's interesting. I'm all for kids getting to pick what they would like to eat on their birthday, but out of courtesy to their many guests, they should have offered something else too almost everyone will eat and enjoy, like your standard marinated chicken strips, or a pizza. Their combo is too weird to appeal to many people, and it's rude to only offer that. At the end of the day Kate is still as rude and inconsiderate as ever, unable to think and realize that their menu is bizarre and not appealing to many.

Oh I just LOVE when Kate gets caught in the lie. Remember how she insisted for years that she really needed to sign up for filming so that their memories could be video taped? Well now she says she filmed almost every moment of the twins when they were babies herself. This was long before the show, remember. So, if it was no problem to film it all yourself, every moment of it, why does one need a camera crew in the first place? What a liar.

Kate herself, she claims at the request of the twins, put together a bunch of clips of the girls from when they were babies to show at the party. It ended up being half an hour. Mady and Cara say on the couch that they actually asked Kate to make a video montage for them only, not to show at the party to everyone, but Kate twisted their request all around. And they said the video was an hour. Yikes. Wouldn't a much better idea be to have this video playing on a loop in the background throughout the party? I've seen that at birthday parties, weddings, and anniversaries, and it works well. That way no one feels obligated to sit down and hush up through a big long montage of boring home videos, but people can still watch and enjoy them throughout the party on their own terms. The way Kate structured it, this film brought the party to an awkward, screeching halt.

The guests are extraordinarily polite, sitting there acting engaged and interested in this very long drawn out boring home video. Oh, there's her stupid "The Gosselin Twins" sign she tacked to the twins' stroller, the very first flicker we ever had of what her ambitions really were. She says that patriotic decorated stroller was part of a competition and she won. She took the competition very seriously, so much so that she blackened the windows of their garage so no one could see her working on the project. Yes Kate, other competitors are going to illegally sneak onto your property peer through garage windows and try to get a peek at your lame decorations and then steal the idea. That's not psycho thinking at all. But yet another fascinating glimpse into how she is wired and how she sees the world.

Kate seems embarrassed at how she looks in this videos. She looks a little dated, sure, with that stupid headband and the tucked in solid colored blouses, but it was 2001, what do you expect? (Hey, how crazy is it that how we all looked in 2001, the year of 9-11, seems so dated now?) Other than that I think she looks young, fresh, normal, and decidedly un-plastic, untouched by the downside of fame and fortune. In short, I think the woman looked good in 2001. Sad she doesn't see it.

I hate when Kate speaks for all mothers. No, not all mothers want their kids to go back to being babies. Some mothers actually enjoy the different stages of their children's lives as they happen, one to the next, and don't constantly long for them to be nine months old. Sheesh.

Kate is really putting huge emotional burdens on the twins about them turning 16. It's a big deal, sort of yes, but it's not that big of a deal. Graduation and going off to college are way worse, how on earth will she handle that?

As they light the candles on the cute cake, Kate proceeds to rattle off 16 things she loves about the twins, which she admits she didn't prepare. That's too many things not to prepare, what a lazy doofus. She ends up saying stupid stuff like I love that you didn't light yourself on fire lighting the candles. Dolt.

These guests are one in a million listening to all this so politely, but I can see a glimmer of impatience finally breaking their smiles. No doubt at some point, the 16-year-old guests would like to hang out and laugh and party with their 16-year-old friends and have this stop being all about Kate.

Thinking back to all the Sweet 16 parties I went to as a kid and I never remember the mothers being so front and center. I don't begrudge adults who have been in their lives wanting to be here for the party, but for goodness sake, have a separate area for the adults so the kids can have some space to enjoy the party just among themselves. As I recall for my 16th, I had a bunch of girlfriends spend the night undisturbed by the adults. Then later on that weekend I had a party for family--immediate family, grandparents from both sides, cousins local to the area, and close family friends. Separating it out like that gives a 16 year old a chance to really just be with their friends, which is so important at that age, while still making sure this event can be marked by family, too. There are so many quick and easy compromises like that Kate could take that she never does.

The party is finally over and Mady says now they're going to go make smores on the deck. Please tell me they will finally be able to do something without all the adults there. Wait, I thought it was raining and they couldn't do things outside?

The twins were very appreciative and sincere about creepy Brownie's art projects the younger kids made, so that was a relief. It's sad when every time someone in this family does something nice for someone else, I brace for impact waiting for the other person to say something rude or ungrateful or otherwise blow them off.

Mercifully, it looks like the girls are having their bonfire without any adults. What a massive relief, finally!

Kate claims the twins thanked her for days and days afterwards. And days. I don't find that representative of how truly grateful they are. Rather it's a red flag that children are fearful that their gratitude is not sinking in with their parent, or that they are otherwise on pins and needles with that parent, and so they do things like that over and over to ensure the parent is appeased. It's a sign of insecurity and dysfunction, Kate.

We close with some more old clips to fill up the rest of the time. Ha, the editors snuck in an old clip of Mady in an Em Tanner shirt. Hey-ya, Em!

Kate doesn't know if she really deserves to be their mother. Nope, she doesn't. See ya next time for the season finale.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Beach Time!": Shoulda let her strings go, Ike

Coming up on Kate Plus 8, another baller vacation, this time in Alabama, where they pretty must do every expensive excursion you could possibly do at the ocean.  This is their "yearly" trip to the ocean, says Kate, and by yearly she means if they are filming she will finagle a trip to the ocean. They also finally train their almost six-month-old puppies, who should have been trained four months ago. Don't try to figure it out, one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You know, why does one get puppies over the summer anyway if you know you're going to be out of town so much? Part of the reason they're so poorly behaved is because their owners are not providing them any consistency.

Kate again emphasizes they came in late last night. We were all shaking our heads to realize they filmed the space camp footage and traveled a six hour drive to the beach house all in the same day. What reason would she have to lie about that? Wouldn't she lie and say the opposite, that they filmed it over several days, so as not to give the appearance of over-working the kids? We had a discussion on the blog about this show's budget, and all signs are suggesting it's been slashed dramatically. From having to film everything in just a day or two, to hauling in their own food from grocery stores instead of eating out, to now, vacationing in the deep South in the dead of summer, when prices tend to hit rock bottom because it's so hot and muggy. God bless Alabama, but it's not so comfortable in August.

There's an aerial shot of the beach house, and it's huge. It's a mansion, with a big dock right along a beautiful inlet. In the background, you can see the city just a hop, skip and a jump away. And this after Kate claimed the house was in the middle of nowhere so they had to bring all their own food in. No they're not.

They're about to go parasailing, and Kate demands they all finish up lunch quickly or she "might ask the man to let the strings go." I'm all for having a sense of humor with your kids, but why is Kate constantly teasing about things that could either kill or cause great bodily harm to her children? It's truly creepy, no joke.

Those "girls" of Kate's, oy! Put them away, especially in the kitchen. Is this a brothel or summer vacation?

The parasailing instructor Ike introduces his crew but gets bored when Kate tries to introduce herself and instead he just keeps giving directions, cutting her off. Heh, I have a funny feeling he really doesn't care who she is or what this filming is all about, this is just another customer to keep safe and provide a good experience to and on to the next one. He will soon go the way to the river raft man, I feel this one coming.

Oddly, there is no discussion of seasickness this time. We have to have the conversation on every other boat ride, what gives? The three youngest girls whoosh up first, and love it. Everyone is shocked how high they go up when parasailing, including me. 450 feet?! Yowser. Okay, I'll give Kate a pass here on not liking this. This is way too much like skydiving, only even worse, there's no instructor with you and the harnesses look really flimsy. The boys and the twins take a crack at it, too. You guessed it, this was fun.

A long discussion from Kate about how she didn't want to be pressured into doing this. What dramatics. I didn't see anyone pressuring her. It's no skin off Ike's back whether she goes or not and the kids don't care. In fact most kids wouldn't care what mom does or doesn't do. It's all about them at this age. The kids were enjoying their own fun on this ride, and telling her all about it, and if she wants to do it fine, if she doesn't, it's not their problem. This actually is part of her narcissism, that she thinks anyone gives a damn what she wants to do with herself. Nobody does. Heh, I like the flashback to the New Zealand bungie jumping, where Brad pushes her off the ledge. One of the few flashbacks they should just keep playing over and over. Ike is finally like well are you going or not, decide now. That's right, it's really freaking annoying when someone is holding up the group with their indecisiveness. Oh good Lord, she's crying now. Ike is like, okay, nope abort. Seriously! I love that he's not putting up with her shenanigans. Either jump in the deep end or not, but if not, get off the damn diving board so everyone else can carry on with their fun.

Of course Kate refuses to abort because at the end of the day she knows good and damn well she will do this, that this is all for maximum show and attention and making sure this is all about her. She demands Ike only send her up a few feet.  Once again in an effort to make herself feel better, she's made the ride more precarious. Common sense suggests that's terribly unsafe. You wouldn't get as much wind in the sail that way, and if anything goes wrong, there's absolutely no room to correct it before you slam face first into the back of the boat. Idiot. Nope, that's not how it works, is essentially Ike's response.

Kate eventually gets on the ride, with the obligatory screaming and screeching and parentified Aaden and Cara going up with her to comfort her. Kate remarks once again that it was not being able to swim that was one of the things bothering her. Good God, then get some swimming lessons for the love of holy heck and then that fear will be solved. Holy moly. And by the way, from that height, not being able to swim is not going to be the problem if anything does malfunction. I mean, you're dead from 450 feet if it failed. Is she dumb, or just stupid? By the way, in some brief googling about parasailing accidents, I found that the Federal Aviation Administration has regulated parasailing to 400 feet maximum. So, was Ike exaggerating when he said they would go up 450, or breaking the law? Hm.

Let me be clear here, there's nothing wrong with not liking parasailing. I'll admit it, I would never do this and do not feel unfulfilled for not doing so. About on average one death every 1-2 years doing this is enough for me to say no thanks. But to cause all this drama is uncalled for.

You know, the kids were having fun. A blast. They loved seeing the sites from up high and no one was fighting or bickering, or feeling sick to their stomach, or upset. Doofus ruined a rare pleasant outing. And I think a huge part of her disturbing psychology is that she can't help but ruin it. One, because she's petrified it won't be good footage because calmness in her mind is boring to viewers. And two, she can't help but want the attention all on her. Quite the opposite, I enjoyed seeing the kids relaxed like this, it was good to see them have a moment where everything was working out. It only got obnoxious when the plot turned to her freak out.

Kate does a weird nervous slithering snake thing with her tongue on the ride. The twins make fun of it. It's almost like a tick, which may be just a tiny clue into the chemistry of her brain. That's something a six-year-old would do when they are stressed, not a mature adult woman who has control of herself. If you don't believe something is very wrong with her upstairs, I don't know what to tell you.

Heh, they do a private interview with Ike once back on shore, who calls Kate a basket case. He should have let her strings go, eh?! I expect about five years from now Kate will be trashing him just like she did the rafting instructor from five years ago, because that's how this woman rolls.

The next "day" (I'm keeping track of the days now, it's got my attention), they go on a segway tour.  Joel's segway won't go fast, to which Cara calls him "stupid." Um, no, he's not stupid. His segway wouldn't go fast because it was on "beginner" mode. It had nothing to do with Joel. These kids always jump to the most cutting, nasty remarks about each other, and often it's completely unjustified. One of the instructors fixes it for him and he starts going at normal speeds, no big deal and no cause for cutting him down, Cara.

They were "naturing along" on the segways and it started to rain. Naturing??

It's a little hard to tell what's going on next amid all the whining, but it certainly appears that Mady and Kate are ready to make the whole group call it quits because of the sprinkle that's messing up their hair. Many of the other kids are very distraught at the idea of cutting this short, as they should be. What the hell? It's not pouring nor do I see any lightning which would make this unsafe, and once again, it's hella rude to quit a group activity when so many other people would like to continue, not to mention the instructors who made great efforts to set this up nice for you. And probably, are doing so with the understanding built into this that filming will include some free promotion. Therefore, quitting early is even more not cool in this scenario. Same as what they did on the horseback ride in the Poconos! Just quit!

I'm well aware Mady is just a child, but she is extremely selfish and spoiled, and I have never once heard Kate tell her she is being selfish and spoiled, to knock it off, get back on her segway, and suck it the F up, as she should as the parent. In fact in this case, Kate backed her up! What?! The instructor wants to know if these kids always complain this much. I'll answer: yes. Kate doesn't seem at all embarrassed a perfect stranger has within minutes pegged her kids as massive bellyachers. She should be mortified they are behaving this way in public, or at all.

Kate gets mad when Lex stops in the middle of the path, and blames Lex for almost making her crash. No, Doofus, you need to pay attention to what's in front of you and be ready to stop if you need to. I wonder how many cars she's rear-ended in her lifetime. I'm guessing a lot. And it was their fault too they stopped you told the cops, right?

Kate refuses to turn the speed up on her machine, yet is complaining (after that guy just told them they complain too much) that kids are darting in front of her on the road. Cara explains that the reason everyone is darting in front of her is indeed because she's going too darn slow. Well, that makes sense.

"I'm so tired of getting picked on about everything I do, just leave me be!" says 12-year-old doofus here.

Sigh. You weren't being "picked on," Kate. You were being called out, correctly so, for being obnoxious on a fun activity. Same with the parasailing; if you can't keep up, sit it out. But don't insist on doing something you really aren't mentally prepared for, and then spoil everyone else's fun. It's refreshing to see the kids call her out now that they're older, yet at the same time, I'm really sorry that their lives have to involve calling out their raging lunatic of a mother so much. It looks stressful.

It's their last day. So, I clocked the beach portion of the trip at three full days, plus their one full day at space camp, for a grand total of four full days on the trip to make two episodes, not counting flying days. Wow. What is the point to travel this far for less than a week?! These kids must be absolutely beat.

Kate makes half full coffee cups of oatmeal with a few drops of liquid brown sugar, and a third of a small cup of orange juice, which is not nearly enough food for kids this age, period, especially those about to do a very physical activity. We watch her pour the oatmeal into the pot and can see how little she puts in for eight people. Thankfully there are a few big croissants floating around, but it's unclear how much they each got to eat of each of them. An airy croissant is not going to fill a kid up either unless they eat a lot of them. I never hear the kids complain they're hungry, I wonder if they've just accepted the dainty portion sizes. So many of them seem irritable all the time, one really has to wonder if it's because they're getting hungry within a few hours of eating. Once conditioned to under eat for so long, they might not recognize and connect their irritability to their hunger. I think I was one of the bloggers here in the past to ere on the side of concerns about their food intake are probably overblown, but I've been rethinking it lately. The undersized portions are much more noticeable now and much more concerning now that they are older and need to eat more. Almost all the kids are thin, and I daresay a lot of them have a dull look to their skin (or bad skin in general) and hair which can be a strong indication they're not filling up on all those yummy calories a 12-year-old craves or drinking enough. Another thing to note is that everyone got the same exact portions. With eight kids, there's going to be some kids who are eating more than others. It's unlikely they all need exactly the same amount. For instance, at this age the boys and the twins should be starting to have appetites that pull away from the younger sisters. In some cases, a 12-year-old boy will want to eat nearly double what the girls are eating. In any case, nothing starts a day off terribly than not getting enough to eat and drink.

The kids take over this big floating trampoline thing in the middle of the water. Huh, is that theirs to use? And who is lifeguarding this when Kate can't swim? Incredibly dangerous. Oh, and by the way, once again she won't let them dish up the amount of oatmeal and brown sugar they would like. She has to portion it out for them like they're in a nursing home. It would have been nice to just stay at a hotel with a breakfast buffet and let them fill up their own trays, full of as much waffles, yogurt, eggs and biscuits 'n' sausage gravy they want. And a tall glass of juice.

This is getting tedious. Next they go kayaking, where this instructor has to tell the group to relax and calm down, and that they're here to have fun. Again, isn't it embarrassing that a perfect stranger has to tell your family to relax and calm down? Is anyone in this family feeling chagrinned at all, or are they so used to making a scene it doesn't phase them anymore? Ha, I'm liking Alabamians. This instructor, Chris, flat out tells them, eh, I'm not gonna remember any of your names but whatever, sure, you're Kate. Lol. She must just hate this blasé attitude by the locals. No one seems at all impressed by them or seems to know who they even are.

At some point Mady loses phone privileges because she pushed Kate's kayak away. Huh, what? Kate has an absolute meltdown over who even knows what. Kate is convinced this was an intermediate kayaking trip. Not in the slightest! It was a flat little inlet. Baby to beginner at best. What is she even talking about? Not really relaxing though, right under a freeway overpass. Heh, drowns Kate out though.

The instructor finally gives up and tethers his kayak to Kate, towing her back. What a dolt.

Heh, the instructor jokes that they have four miles left. Well, he'll go the way of Brad and river man in short order.

The way Kate angrily grits her teeth and says "Hannah, stop paddling!" was flipping scary. It's the tone of voice nasty parents use right before they yank their child's ear two feet up. In all seriousness, there are a lot of red flags present that this woman still harbors a very, very serious anger management problem. If she can't even keep it together while on camera, it is frightening to imagine what her limits are off camera. (Here are some of the tell-tale signs of an anger issue and Kate pretty much displays all of them just in this one episode: Criticizing, belittling, putting down, lack of patience, irritability and short temper, blaming everyone and everything else, people avoid you, people feel like they're walking on eggshells around you, and so on.)

Well this is sad. The instructor in his private interview said he had intended to take the group out to collect some trash and do a mini environmental clean-up, but he had to scratch that plan. Good job ruining everything, Kate. Again.

The vacation comes to an abrupt end and now we start the completely unrelated storyline of training the puppies. Naturally they get private one-on-one training with professional dog trainers, which is exorbitantly expensive. Kate spends a long time explaining how much of a crazy dog lady Kate is, with little to no clips to really back that up. I mostly get the impression the dogs to her are, depending on the day, a mild inconvenience to up to a total nuisance. Meanwhile when the dog trainer lady comes in, I know instantly she's a sincere dog lover without her just talking about it, as she greets the dogs down at their level in that baby voice true dog lovers use to speak to their dogs: "Who's a booo-tiful girl, yes yoo are!"

Kate? That's a crazy dog lady. Not you.

The dog lady is using clicker training? That's going to be way too complicated for this family. You guessed it, right out of the gate Kate is arguing with the trainers. What a pest she is.

Cara's picking lint again as Mady is explaining what is at the end of the day pretty boring.

I do like the trainer's firm emphasis on positive training. She believes in never punishing the dog at all, which is what I believe, too, mostly because I believe it is the most humane, but also because it just works better. Kate desperately needs this kind of training in parenting teens, I'm serious. She would really benefit from some one-on-one parenting training, I really think it would make everyone all around happier if she used some other technique, any other technique, other than being such an obnoxious nag yelling at them all the time. Click, Kate. Click click!

Kate says she has to say "come" 500 times. That's what she said.

The kids are having fun during all this, wrestling a bit, and there's Kate yelling and hollering at them again and making snide, unfunny remarks. She doesn't see the irony in all this emphasis on positive reinforcement, as she's being nothing but negative to the kids.

She thinks her joke about how the kids need children training is so funny she says it twice to the trainer and yet another time on the couch. I get a kick out of it when she gets so proud of herself for coming up with the most minimally clever dumb lines. Heh. In any case, no, Kate. The children are fine. They are children. You are the one who needs intensive, one-on-one parenting instruction. It's you. 

Oh stop the presses, at age six months, someone is actually teaching these dogs how to walk on a leash. My God. Hint, put your dog on a leash and get them used to it the moment you bring them home and you won't have such an issue with a dog who looks nearly full grown looking at a leash like a confused child stumped by a math problem. That's pretty damning evidence these dogs have never been walked before in their lives. Another huge reason they are poorly behaved. It is not enough to just let a dog run around a big yard, they must be actually walked by an owner, on a leash. There are numerous articles all over the internet explaining why if you're interested in knowing more about that.

Next up, Sweet 16 for the twins. I kind of question whether a kid who picks lint on the couch the whole time during these episodes really wants her birthday party filmed. Sixteen, whew. Digest that for a second, the twins are sixteen and still being filmed. For the record, we first met them when they looked like this. That's them in between their parents:

Sixteen candles, Kate remarks. Heh, a poor man's Molly Ringwald.

See you next time.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Gosselins in Space": Super fun!

Coming up on Kate Plus 8! They're heading off "own" a summer vacation. "A" summer vacation is actually a fair way to say it, since they just got back from two other baller summer vacations, New Orleans and the Poconos. It's definitely not their only one this summer like most families.

Hey, did they go here straight from New Orleans? Wouldn't that have made more sense? Or did they come down here separately? How wasteful, if so.

This space camp in Alabama actually looks deliriously fun, with lots of simulators and enthusiastic instructors, but wouldn't the kids enjoy it a lot more going off to overnight space camp, or any camp, without their mother?

Not surprisingly, the extent of Kate's "training" of the dogs is to yell at them to "stop!" By the way, they weren't doing anything wrong. Just wrestling with each other. Totally normal puppy behavior, and actually, important to their development, as they learn their own strength, begin to understand the concept of play fun versus going too far, and have good exercise and bonding time with each other.

Mady describes them as pretty terrible puppies, who jump up on them all the time, scratch them, and don't listen. Well, that's because they aren't trained. Footage shows they won't even let themselves be leashed up and walk with the kids. They are five months old, this is absurd. We'll do puppy school when Kate gets the chance, Kate remarks. She's hopeless. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

If I sound like I'm in a bad mood, I am. I have to watch this drivel on TLCgo again because apparently, Playstation Vue won't keep episodes in my DVR more than a couple weeks. Curses. See my last recap for all the problems with this stupid app. Namely, the app does not allow you to pause and resume the program without starting over from the beginning, the commercials are five minutes long, and you're forced to watch endless promos of fat people and the Dugggars.

The kids, who aren't doing anything wrong, are being hollered at by Kate that the house is trashed and they're not going to come back from vacation to dirty floors and a dishwasher full of dirty dishes. The kids obediently clean up, not giving her any lip. Why couldn't Kate just ask them in a normal tone to please tidy up the house and help her with do her to-do list? Does she think kids will only obey if you scream and snap at them? Good God, she's just awful lately.

Some packing footage, which is boring and almost exactly like the packing footage for New Orleans.

Cara takes a break from picking at a hangnail to admit that she had actually always wanted to go to space camp. That's good. I'm glad the twins are enthusiastic about this. Cara even spoke.

Space camp is an immersive program that lets kids get a taste of what it's like to be an astronaut, Kate reads from her script. Kids, Kate. Lets kids experience space. Drop them off and go the F away. Jesus.

Rocket things, says Kate. I punch her in the face, virtually.

Well this is impressive. The actual CEO of the joint, Dr. Deborah Barnhart, is their host. If you're interested in her resume, it's pretty stacked. She was one of the first women captains in the Navy and post-military worked on classified satellite technology. I'm sure she'll be reduced to "Ms. Space Lady Cadet" soon.

They zip up in rather cute flight suits. First up, a simulator that imitates tumbling. Aaden and Joel have proven to be game for trying new things. They are usually positive and cheerful, first in line, and set a good example for their siblings. While the other siblings were worried about losing their breakfast, they were having a blast in the simulator. Somehow, Kate hasn't projected all her fears and freak outs onto the boys.

Oh, yeah, Collin's totally MIA on this wildly fun journey, which is sad, and once again no one explains this. If you missed the initial episode where Kate talked about him, or the People article, you'd be lost, that is if you even noticed he's gone. They keep the editing disjointed enough you might not.

Kate's going to try the simulator, and the kids practically beg her not to scream and make a scene. Really! There's other people here besides them, it's not 2009 and they didn't manage to buy out the whole place this time, and the kids are clearly at an age where she's starting to really embarrass them. I'm with them, could she please just hold it together for once, and if she can't, then don't particulate.

Kate remarks that it looks like the electric chair. Heh, one only wishes.

"Pretend you're in your bed at home!" one of the kids suggests. What? What's happening in that bed? And I never thought Steve was the type.

Kate doesn't like the simulator of course, but at least she seems to somewhat be trying not to have a total meltdown. A few screams get out, but she does try. The kids laugh at her, heh.

Yea! Five minutes of fat people commercials!

Next up, moon walking, where the simulator imitates what it's like to bounce around on the moon. One of the walks is called the bunny hop. Kate is either imitating a bunny, or making fun of a disabled reporter. I cannot tell which.

Fun, funny, and super fun are this family's go-to adjectives lately. And that's about it.

Next up, the lunar mission, which is very similar to something I did as a 6th grader at some kind of museum on a field trip. They simulate check-lists, problems, and other things like that similar to what you would encounter on a real mission. Nobody's mother was there. It was way cool. It's starting to just get humiliating to see Kate front and center everywhere for activities that are clearly geared toward camp kids, not their mothers. She is Rosalind Russell, always there, always in the center, always along for what should be the children's ride.

I'm afraid, Alexis, you would be playing the role of the cow. Don't feel bad, Natalie Wood had to do it too.

A lot of the instructors here look more like minimum wage high school and college hires, not professional scientists. I could be wrong, but that makes it seem much less legit to me and more just summer-camp like. In my brief google of this place apparently it did almost go bankrupt recently.

They're fighting over who is going to be on the "ground" in mission control and who is going to go to space. It sounds petty as most of their arguments usually are, but I actually remember it being a really big deal on my middle school field trip who would be mission control and who would be in the space ship. Naturally mission control sounded boring and stupid to most of us. As I recall some saintly teacher talked up how important and fun mission control was such that we fancied ourselves Ed Harris saving humanity and that smoothed it all over quickly, because that's what adults who are good with kids do.

Why is Kate even chiming in here about what she wants to do (Go to space, of course. Doofus.)? This is the kids' thing. You take the leftovers like a normal mother or better yet go run some errands and pick them up when it's over.

Well, Mady's called this exactly right so I'll just quote it: "I think she has this problem where, like, she doesn't realize that like, we are children, and, like usually, like the fun, like children like enriching experiences are for the children? So like, she always has to do like the best part?" I'll forgive the likes and everything-is-a-question talk this time because she's nailed it. Heh, it was only a matter of time before the kids woke up. The question is what happens next? Will they continue to let her get away with it, or will they pull a Missy Francis (resident patron saint of screwed over child stars), funnel all their own money back into their secret accounts then cut ties with their mother once and for all the second they become adults? Time will tell.

Kate thinks it's cute she is insisting on being at the forefront of all this. She wants to be the flight director, who is the one in charge. It's not cute. It's freaking annoying and it's annoying the kids. Oh my god, Joel wants to be the flight director, as he should want that, and even Mady tells Kate to back the F off and let Joel be flight director. Good lord. Again, not cute, not funny.

What's even more fascinating is that Kate makes a comment that she knows she should just sit back in mission control and not be in the spaceship. So, then why can't she control herself and do what she knows is the right thing to do for the sake of her kids? Fascinating.

It took four hours to figure out how to have some teamwork and accomplish this mission? Please tell me Doofus here is exaggerating.

Kate and Mady disparage Joel for awhile, and then they launch a ship and go for a space walk. An extremely long conversation about how the space suits don't fit just right. Wouldn't this make just a wonderful couple of days for eight Make a Wish kids? Sigh.

As per her usual, Kate is shouting at the kids and barking orders when they're not 100% Johnny-on-the-spot. But that's the whole point of activities like this, you get faced with sometimes pretty challenging problems and you pool your kid brains together and work through it. Nope, it won't be as fast as most adults could do this, but this isn't a race, this is a learning opportunity.  Having Mom yelling in your headset what to do defeats the whole purpose.

Does anyone else find it weird and detached when Kate refers to her own children as "people"? As in, people were very disorganized on this mission. Heh, what?

Three of the kids appear to be doing the most allegedly exciting part of this mission, space walking to repair something. It's not all that. They kind of bounce up some cheap scaffolding. Big whoop. Nonetheless Alexis begins to have a meltdown worthy of the most tenacious five-year-old, lamenting over and over how unfair this all is that she doesn't get to "space walk" i.e. bounce up some cheap scaffolding. She even balls her hands up in fists and pounds them on the table. Geez! Kate's response is to agree it's not fair because she, Kate, would like to do the space walk too.  First, this looks like yet another activity that would make Doofus here yell and scream, so I don't really believe this is up her alley. Second, what an absolute child. Instead of, as my teacher did for us when we felt the same, helping this distraught child learn how to cope with that "unfair" feeling she will experience throughout her life, she essentially validates her. Terrible parenting. How about remind her how this kid and her family is taking the place of eight sick children who would appreciate this whole thing in whatever role they are assigned a hell of a lot more than she does, and wouldn't worry about what's "unfair."

They finish the mission, and Alexis is still pouting. The adjectives are getting way more sophisticated now. That wasn't just fun. It was super fun. As we were discussing on the blog, this family doesn't exactly engage with their audience like the Irwins do.  Plus, it didn't look fun for many of them. Many of them seemed really disenchanted by the roles they were assigned to, so bad they just couldn't get over it. It's very irritating to repeatedly watch someone describe something on a reality show that bears no resemblance to the truth.

Next they basically play a video game involving fighter jets where the goal is to shoot the other people down. I can hang with the best of them playing first person shooter games like Grand Theft Auto or Uncharted, but even this seems rather morbid. It's not like you're shooting a computer fighter jet. That's supposed to be the other person in your path. This was also super fun, by the way.

The twins are suddenly referring to Kate as "Mother," which I totally dig and is so much better than the childish "Mommy." Very Norman Bates.

Commercials. Whitney after all this time is still freaking out over maybe being pregnant. So take the dang test already, good Lord. I feel like I've been watching her having a pregnancy scare for a month.

Next, the Centrifuge, which is basically an amusement park ride that spins you around. Oh, this is rich. Kate is going to sit this one out because she fears she'll vomit. How come just last episode in the Poconos Alexis wasn't allowed to sit out the boat ride when she felt like she might vomit? Does Doofus even care how hypocritical she is? She has to know she does it. Ohhh, that was "very fun."

I see TLC is quietly rolling out a scripted series, and have a handful of other new reality shows ready to go that look okay. Who knows where the Gosselins will fit in with all these changes.

Next up, simulating a helicopter crash into the water. It's painful to watch Mady try to carry this show, try to be funny, cute, the Ruthie Camden of the cast, when she's just not.

When Mady says certain things it's painfully obvious, like when she smugly remarks that she didn't want to do this simulator because the helmets weren't fashionable and they didn't want to get their makeup wet. The simulator dumps them into the water and they get soaked. This feels morbid again. Everyone is laughing at the pure hilarity of a helicopter "crash." They then play a game where they can only squawk like a chicken when they crash. Um. Weird. The kids want to do this like a dozen times. Aren't there other kids at the camp would are waiting to do this? Does anyone ask, can we do it again, if no one else is waiting to use it? Good grief. Kate won't participate in this one either, which means we are spared her screaming and carrying on yet again.

Finally they graduate, and get a scout-like patch to commemorate it. A drone shot of nothing. Drone guy is being lazy. I wasn't as impressed with this space camp as I thought I would be. I've heard it's really expensive, and for that kind of money you would expect more than camp counselors who will be undeclared majors and freshman at the local community college next year. I expected more things like meet and greets with a real astronaut, million dollar telescopes, and funky science experiments you just couldn't do at home.

Is Kate getting in a dig at production? She remarks quite firmly that she really wishes they had spent several days at Space Camp. Heh, production whizzed them in and out in one day. There was a budget for that one!

They head to City of Orange Beach in Alabama and a huge house rental that's gorgeous. They have a mountain of grocery bags and coolers in the van and it's very late. What the heck? When did they get all this food?! It must have taken hours. I bet production got it. Why don't they just go out to eat and spare the aggregation? If they can afford a house like this they can afford to just go out to eat or at the very least get take-out and bring it back. Kate claims there is nothing around so that's why they have to haul in their own food. Um, this is City of Orange Beach:

And this is their restaurant Yelp page, with no less than twenty-two different places you can go eat.

Who is she kidding? Why does she do this anyway, haul in all this food when they could just go out to eat? She loves all the other luxuries of an upper middle class life, I would think eating out on the company credit card would be high on her list. If I had to guess, I think maybe she likes the martyrdom of preparing all their own meals? So strange.

Her spoiled children just must have a beach vacation at least once a year. Are these little princes and princesses aware that much of Pennsylvania's children will never see an ocean's shore in their lifetimes, let alone every year? There is a lot of poverty in the rural areas. What's more, there are so many beautiful lakes and rivers right in their own backyard what a shame that is not good enough for them. And this is after they just went to one of the most beautiful areas in the whole country, the Poconos, just a hop skip and a jump away and far less cheaper than renting a mansion in Alabama. Open your eyes.

Kate says it's 11 o'clock at night. Geez. I wonder if this was all the same day, the space camp, grocery shopping, and settling into the beach house. They sure make it seem like it is. What are Alabama's child labor laws and are they allowed to film children, even during the summer, from the early morning hours to almost the next morning? Doubt it, but as they state hop to film with no one watching and holding them accountable, no one will ever be caught.

Next time, yet another vacation, at the beach in Alabama.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Puppies & Poconos": 'Now on TLCgo i.e. TLCno!'

Coming up on Kate Plus 8! They're taking a family vacation to Kellerman's! Oh wait, darn, it's just the Poconos.  Also, they get some puppies. What does this have to do with the Poconos, you ask? Well, they both begin with "P", so some producer somewhere thought it would be cute to lump the two story lines together.

Sometimes it's interesting to pause and read what you can find on the screen that isn't shown long enough to read at normal speeds. For the heck of it I pause on the clapperboard, which reveals that the Tup girls' couch interviews were filmed on 9-18-2016, which was a Sunday. Kate really is getting to the end of the line here when kids are going to cooperate with giving up even a portion of their weekend to doing work like this. I predict a lot of bribes will be necessary in her future.

Why is Kate yelling and clapping at her kids? Apparently she wants them to put their bags out by the van. Well, then ask them to do that in a normal tone like a normal person, what's with all the hollering? It's never more prevalent how much snipping and sniping she does to her kids. I've commented about it several times, and it just never lets up. The kids are going to resent it, and resent it very deeply, if they don't already. How awful to constantly have someone speaking to you in such a high-stress, negative tone. I couldn't stand it.

Mak and Nanuq are the puppies, and Kate's cradling one like a newborn. Ha, and he loves being babied as puppies, and even grown-up dogs often do. Aww, doggie babying. It's just so fun.

They just got the puppies so they decide to take them along on the trip. More yelling about diaper bags and getting in the car. They pile into the car and are ready to go when they suddenly realize they forgot to load the puppies. Ha, my parents did that to me once, when I was maybe two months old. They piled themselves and all my crap and all their crap in the car and nearly got a block down the road before realizing they didn't have me. They burned rubber getting back home to the baby. Apparently when they found me I was just quietly sitting in my carseat on the kitchen table contemplating what I would do with myself now that I was all alone in the world. I was fine. They laughed it off and still tell the story today. Instead of taking it in stride, Kate freaks out, doesn't see the humor in any of this, and yells and screams at the kids to go get the dogs. Good grief, it was just an honest mistake. Something got lost in the communication of who would load what into the car. With nine people it's bound to happen. At least you didn't arrive in the Poconos without the puppies you intended to take with you, now that's a problem! Interestingly enough, the boys are the only ones to explain how this happened. Hannah was supposed to be watching them and I guess she flaked. It's just one of dozens of examples of both the girls likely covering for each other, as well as Kate not pinning the blame on who was the real offender as long as she is one of the girls or has some kind of favored status.

They arrive at their spacious lake house rental. The puppies got car sick and have diarrhea, which Kate claims makes her feel bad. That's fine to have a little empathy, but at the same time, I really support bringing puppies along wherever you go if at all possible, even if they are young and getting sick (as long as it's safe to do so, like they have their shots). Not only is it an excellent opportunity for socialization to get them out of their comfort zone, but you can begin to get the pups used to traveling, which in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable things about having a dog, taking him along on your adventures large and small. The diarrhea and car sickness will mostly likely go away once the pups realize that traveling is the time of your life and nothing to fear.

Ha, does this count as a humble brag? The vast house, which has stone fireplaces and gorgeous hardwood flooring, has a difficult layout for Kate. I'm so sorry your vacation is hard.

Oh my god, the kids need to grow the F up already, especially the girls. They're immediately bickering over Kate's selection of bathrooms for them. For all the nagging Kate does, she so rarely corrects them over the major stuff, like frankly, being spoiled about the stupid bathrooms. It's like she can't issue spot when it comes to her kids. Do the girls have any idea that when most normal families take vacations you are very, very lucky to even have more than one bathroom to fight over? Try getting a family of four or five showered and ready for a busy day on vacation with just one Red Roof Inn shower and sink and the T.V. only gets four channels and the ice machine is out of order. It's no picnic. Another failing on Kate's part, not impressing upon them that nothing about most of their vacations is average or normal.

Once unloaded, they head to the lake, which looks just like pretty much every lake I ever camped at as a child. Classic East Coast summers. The kids play on rafts, paddle boards and with squirt guns. Shockingly, Kate remarks that she can't swim. But she has a pool at the house, and frequently takes the children on vacations that involve lakes, oceans and pools. Irresponsible and reckless, pure and simple.

Next up, some fishing from one of the docks. There's a brief shot of some guy in a red shirt and shorts who appears to be helping them fish, but they never explain who he is.

The next day, we begin with a sweeping shot of the house rental, and it's gigantic. It doesn't even fit in the frame. What an amazing vacation, and one that not a single one of these people seem to really appreciate.

Kate screaming and hollering at the kids, from inside, asking whether the puppies peed and pooped, really interferes with enjoying how absolutely adorable the pups are. Shut up, Doofus. If she really must know right then, why can't she walk outside and ask the children in a calm, normal volume tone whether the pups went potty? I don't understand it.

Next they head to Triple W Stable, where we will get to watch other people's kids ride horses. Lol, Kate, who clearly has no idea how to ride, is giving instructions to the kids about riding, like don't let go of the horn. That's what she said.

Great edit by TLC, where they cut to the riding instructor who tells them never hold the horn. This is a place where they hold the reins together with both hands. Heh, Leah and Hannah roll their eyes at each other. Kate, because she is an asshat and a terrible example to the children, proceeds to tell the instructor she will hold the horn. I'm at best an amateur horsewoman, I ride a handful of times a year and have ridden with my friend's cattle in Wyoming.  I have ridden at places where they want you to hold the reins together and move them left and right to steer the horse like how Triple W wants it, versus how I prefer to ride where you hold each rein separately (what the instructor calls "split reins") and sort of pull one side or the other back to steer. I do know because I tried it, if you try to steer split reins when the horse is used to the reins being together, or vice versa, the horse doesn't understand and won't respond correctly, can even get agitated. I can see the instructor getting a little more adamant as he firmly tells Kate you cannot hold the horn as that sends a message to the horse you're incapacitated. (And that, use your common sense, could be very bad.) Kate is probably too dumb and uninformed to realize this, but horses are extremely sensitive to a rider. How they sit, how they hold the reins, their level of confidence. Something as simple as threading the reins through your fingers correctly can make all the difference in the world to your control of the horse. So, when a riding instructor tells you to do something a certain specific way, and you think it's dumb or wonder how something so seemingly minor would make a difference, just f-ing do it the way he tells you. It's for your own damn safety, actually.

There's a lot of liability when you run a horseback riding place, and the last thing you need is a defiant customer. This guy is well within his rights to kick Kate off this ride right here and now and be done with her. The hilarity in all this is that Kate, in an attempt to try to help herself feel safer by holding onto something, is actually going to make her ride more dangerous. She's an idiot.

By the way, this is my first time trying out TLCgo, their streaming service. This episode mysteriously disappeared from my DVR so I found it on go. TLCgo is just like HBOgo, only HBOgo was here first. Hey, can they sue?

I have a major complaint I'd like to put in the comment box though, in that when you watch episodes on TLCgo and pause them, as I have to do a lot to write the recap, the video starts over when you press play again. You have to then manually pull the slider back over to where you last left off, if you can remember. What the hell, TLC! Less Duggars, more fix your streaming.

Nothing happens on the horseback ride, and pretty soon some of the kids are complaining and wanting to go back. The instructor just sort of sits there, listening to the whining. Kate soon allows half the group to go back, where apparently lunches are packed for them. I can't be the only one who finds this very rude. If you're going to quit halfway through the horseback ride, don't go in the first place. But I get Kate not wanting to pick her battles with this one. It's just not worth it. But I would have said from the beginning unless you're sticking out the whole ride don't go, we're not stopping in the middle for someone to take you back absent an emergency, as this is very rude to our instructors and the rest of the group.

Well, the children who left missed out on a beautiful view of a vast green meadow and spotting a baby deer. Their loss. Kate makes a comment similar to what she said last episode in that it's nice the kids are old enough at last to do these sort of things. Huh? The kids were old enough to ride horses at least six years ago, what in the world is she talking about? She really works hard to try to age them as slow as humanely possible. You would think they just got out of their pull-ups so now they can really take on the world without being bogged down having to carry around baby wipes.

Back at the house that doesn't even fit into the camera frame, they're not taking the puppies out enough, because one just peed in his pen. Kate passes him off on Aaden to walk. Well, it's too late to walk him now, isn't it? Kate complains they're like infants. Sort of. You do have to usually attend to them every hour with something, usually taking him out, much like it feels like you're constantly nursing a baby every hour those first couple months. I would say puppies are more like 2-year-olds, if I had to put a human age on them. In any case, doofus here is going to piss TLC's security deposit away at this rate, pun intended.

Kate has her typical freak out walking out onto the dock. It's one of those docks that is small and moves. I think they're floating docks, which explains the movement. Movement is thus normal, though unsettling if you're not expecting it. The kids think she's dramatic. Yes. One really has to wonder whether a lot of her water-related freak outs would improve if she just got herself some swimming lessons. Then at least you know you probably won't die if you slip off the dock. I don't know what kind of lessons could improve all her other freak outs, though.

Cara really is picking lint, I'm not making this up. A big piece of lint there!

Some of the kids, especially Alexis, are reluctant to get into the boats. When asked on the couch why they don't like boats, the girls say, not at all surprisingly, they don't like boats because they get sick and their mother forces them to get on anyway.

Their mother is cruel and hateful, period. Obviously their repeated nausea wasn't an anomaly or something they have outgrown now that they're older. The Tups are chronically seasick when they get on boats. With the dozens of other fun activities you could do at this place why force them? It's mean. Scientists think that seasickness and nausea actually stem from the brain, ears and eyes, not the stomach. I'm kind of curious if anyone has looked into whether preemies, who are often born with underdevelopment in those areas, are more likely to develop sea sickness as they grow older. It would be interesting to know, since all the Tups have it, yet the twins don't seem to at all.

Wow, Alexis is really refusing to go! She's sat down and crossed her legs on the dock like a regular sit in. Go Lex! This is really B.S. It's not like Alexis is refusing to go because she's a brat. She doesn't want to go because she pukes. I mean, anyone should understand that. Geez, can Kate cut her a break here? Have the nanny stay with her, or somebody? Finally Mady somehow persuades her to get in. The kids don't have much of a chance with both Kate and Mady bullying them into doing things like this. Hey, how come Kate is permitted to freak out and make a scene over anything under the sun that upsets her, but sweet Lexi here can't do the same when she actually has really good reason to? Surely the kids have noticed the hypocrisy.

Mr. Captain Man?? Can we punch this woman in the face now? Golly!

It's pouring rain and Mady says it's cold rain. How miserable, but production has a schedule to keep and tubing is today, so. The boys love tubing and make sure they get to go first. One of the boats has a fun slide that dumps you into the lake. They love it. Thankfully, Alexis is enjoying herself and not sick. I hope someone explained to the poor child that it's really unlikely she's going to get seasick the same way she does when they deep sea fish because this is an extremely calm, flat lake. That might have helped reassure her. Rather, they seemed to just be trying to bully her in it with threats that she was going to ruin everyone else's fun if she didn't get in and get in now. Poor little beaten down thing.

Another complaint about TLCgo, the commercials every ten minutes or so are at times absurdly long and they push their fat shows on you, and peddle the Duggars. I don't know how many times I've seen that Whitney chick panic over her not-a-pregnancy now, I can't get away from it even trying to avoid her at this point, too.

Cara picks more lint from her pant leg as Mady explains that Kate was dramatic when she went tubing with Joel. Joel is a good sport, just focusing on working his goPro and enjoying the ride despite his mother. And when I say tubing, it's not even really tubing. It looks way safer and more stable. It kind of reminds me of one of those circular life rafts for commercial fishing boats, with tall sides, only built for just two people. There's no chance you'll fall out unless you're an idiot who doesn't listen to instructors with vast expertise when they tell you to hold things a certain way and not the way you stubbornly would like to do it. Kate is grateful for parentified Joel, who comforted her on the ride.

The kids aren't the most articulate folks in the bunch, are they? "Fun" is about the extent of their description of that activity.

The next day, archery tag at Skytop Resort. A friend told her about it i.e. the producers set it up. This has to be hundreds of dollars to play, especially the way they've reserved the whole field just for them. This sounds like basically paint ball only with foam-tipped arrows. Looks deliciously fun. I'm sure Kate will spoil it somehow. "It's like Hunger Games!" Kate jokes to the teens, because she thinks she is also a teen and their BFF. Cara basically looks away at that, sort of like the looks the Obama girls had on their faces when their dad was making dumb turkey jokes at the turkey pardon, hehe, because what else can you do when your mother won't act her age.

The kids are five years old and can't figure out what the teams will be. Mercifully the instructor says either figure this out or he'll just do a count-off and pick them himself. I think I'm in love. So much whining and drama over something so simple, it's nice to see someone shut it down right away because Kate sure won't.

At the end of the day these teams end up being ridiculously unfair, with the twins and their friend Marley with Joel and Leah, who they observed doing some practice archery and determined are the best at it. We can bet Kate will suck, and that's only one older person with the rest of the tups who aren't as good at archery. What the heck! If I didn't mention it Collin is nowhere to be found and not even mentioned. It's truly like he never even existed. So, wouldn't it be much more fair to split up Joel and Leah if they were the best, or better yet, make them captains for a school yard pick? Instead, Mady gets to hand pick her entire team and Kate gets the leftovers. That is not fair. It's really a shame for everyone, because games are almost always more fun when teams are even. Why doesn't Mady have any empathy for how unfair this is to the other team? It's bizarre.

Notably, Hannah seems genuinely annoyed that she has to be on Kate's team, and snaps at Kate that no one wants to be on Kate's team. And you know what, that's normal at that age. You don't want to play this cool game with your mother. Sheesh. Why can't Kate be like every other mother and just watch?? And, if Kate watched, the numbers would be even. The way it is now, one team gets someone extra, which also isn't fair.

Not shockingly at all, Mady's team wins, to which even the usually affable Aaden bursts out how unfair the teams are.

Kate, who ultimately is bullied by and afraid of her own children, finds herself shut down by Mady when Kate suggests they mix the teams up for the next game. Kate, you are the parent, she is the child. You've become aware how unfair, and thus un-fun, these teams are. Mady's team is taking disturbing glee in absolutely killing Kate's team, and Kate's team is not having fun because they don't even have a chance. Be the adult and tell Mady, don't ask her, that the teams are going to be shuffled up for the next game. Pathetic.

In round two, Mady's team creams them again. Hannah actually seems close to tears. She's had it and walks off. I remember that feeling as a kid her age when some kind of competition or game was so unbelievably mis-matched and you were getting humiliated so unbelievably badly you just wanted to cry.  Like a shut out of your Middle School basketball team. It's just terrible. Unlike normal people who can remember stuff like that from their childhood, I don't think Kate can remember how she felt when that happened to her, or remember how much more deeply a twelve year old kid feels "unfair" and "losing." It's much easier for a mature adult to just shrug something like this off. To a kid, it's like the end of the world, and yet it's so simple to fix this problem by just mixing up the teams.

It's unclear whose idea this is, but mercifully they finally decide to mix up the teams for round three and draw names out of the hat. I still think schoolyard pick would be most fair, with the two best players as captains. Drawing from a hat has a good chance of creating unfair teams again by pure chance. But at least it's doing something to address the current cluster-F.

The new teams are Kate, Leah, Marley and Aaden, versus Mady, Cara, Alexis and Joel. That's better.

Kate's team finally wins! Sweet Aaden says I just wanted to win once. Aw. Wouldn't you know it, now that the teams are more fair the kids seem to be getting along better. The losing team is even high-fiving the winners. That's what a little help from reasonable adults will do in resolving stupid conflicts kids find themselves in and don't know how to get out of. Otherwise, Kate, it's Lord of the Flies, it really is. If kids didn't still need adults at this age, we'd set them free at 13 and be done with them.

Kate pats herself on the back for how much she loves teamwork and seeing them get along. No she doesn't. She loves conflict and divisiveness.

Rock climbing is up next, and paintball? And this is all on the same day! This is starting to get a little tiring just watching it, and feels intentional from production.  The more they cram into the day, the more stressed everyone will be, the more conflicts that will occur (see Hannah) the better footage they will get. See the glaring conflict of interest there? Production can't possibly be in charge of protecting children if their number one goal is good T.V.

Watch other people's kids rock climb. Then watch other people's kids play paintball.

There's some competition in the lint picking department. Alexis is slumped on the couch, getting bored talking about all this, picking lint off her pants. Heh.

Leah gloats, to Alexis of course, that she did not have nearly as much trouble rock climbing as Lex does. Kate remarks about how it's all about encouraging, not tearing people down, to which Leah gives her a gigantic eye roll. It's astounding how little respect the children have for her, and it's equally astounding how little control she has over how they treat their siblings. Frankly, as much as poor Lexi is picked on, I'm not sure Kate is capable of stopping it even if she wanted to. What a shocker, the authoritarian parenting style doesn't work after all in the end.

I feel like I've been binge watching Big Fat Fabulous Life just by watching the commercials on TLCgo. I know Whitney is I guess a lesbian now, and pregnant, but most likely not really, and also overall still a hot mess.

This episode is disintegrating into more like a really well-produced home video, with the cheap canned music in the background and no real plot, just some paintball and rock climbing. Almost like something you pay 80 bucks to the paintball place to produce for you and they send it to you a week later watch it once then throw it on the DVD shelves never to take out again.

You know what's kind of a head scratcher is they haven't done much activities that are at all suited for including your dog. No long hikes, no picnics, no relaxing by the lake and throwing a frisbee at the shore for the dogs. The pups don't even seem to be around most of the time. Who's watching the little puppies during all this people fun?

Ha, they flash back to the last time they went white water rafting on their trip out West and the instructor was "taunting" Kate. I vaguely remember that, and had to check my old recap to recall exactly what happened. A quick break to look at my recap from that episode, which reveals that Kate started it by disrespectfully talking back to their instructor, undermining him when he told the kids what they could do, ordering him not to get her wet, and shouting at him about how he should angle the boat straight (Actually, you don't necessarily always want to go down the river straight, certain positions of the rapids and other anomalies in the river mean sometimes you will steer the boat in other ways.) I think the one thing most glaring about this is that contrary to what Kate often says in that she's grown as a person over the years, she's actually the same exact nasty person she ever was. This time around, it was their riding instructor she was terribly rude to, outright defiant to the point of jeopardizing her and everyone else's safety, and tried to tell him about both his job and himself. Same shit, different year with this piece of work.

So, the truth is, the rafting instructor from the RV trip was pushing back a bit on Kate because she started it all, and was being a very rude and disrespectful customer, and was spoiling everyone else's fun. But yes, Kate, he taunted you just out of the blue, just to be cruel and make your experience terrible. Kind of like what you do to people so no surprise you see it in others. I leave you with his final line of the night: "We're gonna give out an Academy Award at the end of the day and I'm nominating you." Ha!

And, speaking of those awards, let me steer you in the direction of one of the probably unlikely winners, a dark horse. Hell or High Water. See it, cherish it, and understand why Manchester by the Sea is actually just manipulative Lifetime drivel and overrated as hell. I think Hell is going to gain some momentum this month.

Also, did I say Kate went white water rafting but insisted she not get wet.

The "Jesus rock" is cool, looks like you're walking on water because it's buried so close to the surface. But wait, what does Kate need a rock for?

I've noticed most of what Kate talks about when she blah-blahs about the activities is her. How she felt to do the activity, the stupid thoughts that went through her mind, her opinions and observations. Very little has anything to do with the children and perceiving and enjoying these activities through their lens like a normal mother would. There's something terribly wrong with her.

I will say this, what a beautiful glimpse of the wonders of Pennsylvania. The gorgeous, peaceful river, the bright green foliage, the vast forests, the good and patient people. What an opportunity this show has missed out on over the last decade to really embrace Pennsylvania and show why I fell in love with the state when I lived there for four years. They spend so much of their time elsewhere. A shame.

Kate can't resist making sure that everyone knows the other tour guide from freaking over five years ago was not fun and that she enjoyed rafting this time because this guide was fun. And by fun she means, puts up with her. Oh, I don't know, I thought her previous tour guide was a real riot. What did we tell you? Narcissists never move on, never let things go, remember the minute details of minor transgressions forever as if it were yesterday. I can't remember a darn thing about the handful of rafting trips I've been on other than they were great fun, but Kate recalls exactly how he crossed her by getting her wet and steering the boat a certain way and what's more wants to make sure she sticks it to him. Lol, as if he's watching this or cares. Might I say this again, five years later, folks.

Well this is telling, Mady remarks that dinner is usually chaotic and she prefers to go up to her room for that. Is she talking about on vacation, or generally? What the hell? That's not healthy at all. The puppies are attacking and biting the children to the point of tearing Joel's shirt, which is not funny or cute and sure as hell won't be funny or cute when they are adult dogs. They're eating absolute garbage for dinner, hot dogs, mac and cheese from the blue box, canned beans. The salt level must be heart attack levels here. Of course, that's fine on vacation especially, but why does Kate think she's so health conscious when they eat all this crap?

God, I leave this recap hating TLCgo. The commercials are five minutes long and pop up the second you even so much as think about touching that little slider. Curses. All in all, too much Poconos, not enough puppies. This was one of the worst episodes this season if not the worst one so far. Kate and the kids were as ungrateful as ever for the experience and somebody was always upset, hollering or complaining. There was just no plot at all, nothing developed no matter how hard they tried to stress out the kids, it was all about being tortured with another family's boring vacation which is the whole reason Betty White has stayed off Facebook in the first place.

I think this was one of the lowest rated ones too, if I remember right. Until next time when they take another once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Space Camp.