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.