Friday, February 9, 2018

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Cleaning House": In Memory of Golly Gee

I'm so close to finishing all the still outstanding recaps I can taste it! Your next offering is Cleaning House, 42 minutes of the typical yelling and screaming and watching such an incredible amount of excess "stuff" I have a burning desire to just go live in a tiny house and get away from this despicable consumerism.

In all my years following this show, this is one of the few times Kate looks genuinely pretty to me. Her hair is a toned down blond, straight but with some body, her makeup muted, and she's dressed in a cozy grey sweater, albeit it cut a little tight. She looks her age, but not in a bad way. She is capable of looking very classy, pleasant and approachable, but she usually misses the mark by a mile.

Seemingly out of the blue, at least the way the kids seem to paint it, Kate wants them to clean out the entire house and sort out what can go to a yard sale. Only a few kids are around, and most are complaining about this task. Did they get a warning? Were there parameters set up? Because an open-ended project like this would naturally set even the most obedient of children off.

Oh my god the crap these children have! Plastic, plastic, plastic everywhere, four or five of everything. Doll houses, toy guns, books galore. Enough toys to cover a basement floor. It's insanity. I bet none of these toys got played with more than 20 minutes in their lifetime.

Kylie Jenner, I mean Mady, says something somewhat profound for a teenager, in that when you get rid of your old stuff, all you do is just replace it with new stuff. Now your new stuff is your old stuff, and you'll be getting rid of that too soon, so you might as well just hang onto your old stuff. I think she should expand on this idea and write it in an essay. It would make a good senior thesis. I'm serious. Consumerism and excess are one of the biggest black holes of modern life, and it's getting worse by the year. I'm somewhat proud of Mady for noticing at her young age.

Hannah, Alexis and Mady are being the biggest babies of all the kids about this. Whining and whining about how today was supposed to be Shoka's birthday cake, not cleaning the basement, and Kate promised this would be fun and it's not. While it's annoying Kate seems to have sprung this project on them without warning, their unchecked snotty attitudes about it are completely unacceptable, but instead of just laying down the law, Kate in typical fashion engages with them, which just makes the whining worse. They have eight capable people here, if they would all just shush and get down to business even with all the crap everywhere, I bet they could finish up this clean-out in under 60 minutes, maybe less. A project like this would take all day with only two or three kids handling it, so there are some great advantages of having a whole lot of kids in your family when projects like this come along. In many instances, you should be doing way less work than an average sized family, which is a nice perk.

Joel put a bunch of books I guess they're holding onto on a bookshelf, only he stacks them facing out, one on top of the other, instead of vertically so you can see their titles.

This incident is a glimpse at the very mean streak Kate has, and the potential long-term damage it could do to kids. Instead of just asking him nicely to restack the books correctly, she pulls them all out dramatically in a big messy pile, and then condescendingly asks Joel how he sees books stacked in a library and does the way he stacked them look like the library? I'm sure Joel knew exactly what he was doing and was just doing something dumb like kids tend to do, there is no reason to make him feel badly about it. Why not laugh about it, share a giggle between mother and son over a funny brain fart, instead of making him feel badly about himself? Joel's chagrined quiet little, 'I guess you're right,' says everything about how Kate spoke to him made him feel.

There's an incredibly long segment about baking a birthday cake and wrapping presents for Shoka. I don't know why these dogs are so boring to me. I think because we've never seen or heard about them doing anything but standing there being a dog. Also, they make Kate's Instagram even more boring than it already is.

The screaming and arguing these kids are doing, almost always from the girls, is utterly unacceptable and near constant, and Kate does nothing at all to try to stop it. Eventually after what feels like hours Kate intervenes and requires complete silence. Well, sheesh the solution to kids bickering and hollering is not total silence. Good grief. How about, speak to each other with respect and with our inside voices?

Kate tries to show off for the cameras and goes to spontaneously hug Cara as they're just hanging out in the kitchen. Cara, as expected, blows Kate off. Kate, you're not that family.
By the way, everyone should see Lady Bird. I saw it opening weekend and was riveted by the real and raw dialogue. An imperfect daughter and a really imperfect mother navigate the daughter's senior year of high school into going away to college. It's like Boyhood only with girls and mostly unlikable characters. You have to be okay with watching a movie where you really don't much like anyone, but if you can get past that, you will be rewarded.


I've seen all the contenders for best picture this year, and that film deserves its spot in the crowd, though it won't win. Three Billboards should win, but The Shape of Water will win.

In a surprisingly revealing conversation, the children say on the couch that they really don't hug Kate much, maybe just at bedtime. Only Aaden admits perhaps he might hug her if she's going away, or if he's on his way to school. Right, because, no surprise Kate likely doesn't derive much from that kind of tactile and loving touch so she doesn't bother to give it to her children even if they would benefit. It'd be interesting to hear what a child psychologist would say about this, but it seems to me only one hug a day is very much on the low side for the kind of physical touch a child needs, though probably matters more when they're younger. Which begs the question how far back does this one-hug-a-day rationing go? Because if you've got a four-year-old whose only touch from a parent all day is one hug at night, that is very, very concerning. There's been a lot of interesting studies on this, with hugging and positive touching directly linked to a child's normal development. Researchers have found a huge boost to a child's normal development once they get a good 20 minutes a day of hugs, and loving, appropriate touching (like cuddling up together and sharing a book or talking). One hug at bed time is likely not going to cut it.

The kids want to try the dog cake because that's just how kids are. Hehe, the boys love it, and Kate jokes they'll eat anything. It looks like the girls are spitting it out though. Blech.

I'm just about the biggest dog lover on the planet, but this segment is mind-numbing. And what's pretty funny about the whole thing is Shoka is barely in it! He only appears at the end, outside of course, to collect his cake. Where was he this whole time, chained up to the barn? Sadly that's not a joke. I will never understand people who keep "outdoor" dogs. It makes no sense to me. I'd sooner understand an "outdoor" child you never let inside except maybe on special occasions, and even then only in the laundry room or basement. Huh?

Kate spins a tall tale about how she's always loved and looked after animals. Even once nursing baby squirrels back to health with a bottle. Heh, and I got a bridge to sell ya! A true animal or dog lover is unlikely to go dog-less for the years and years she did. I think she got the dogs because it was a good episode idea, TLC was paying, and it helps pad her instagram. More than likely, she screamed her head off and ran away when she saw a nest of baby squirrels. She then says and she's always looking after babies. What does babies have to do with being an animal lover? Sometimes her throw away comments are so telling, in that she's actually equating a human being to something like a squirrel. Point being, babies, even children, I think she processes more like cute objects, or a lesser species, not human beings. This would be typical narcissistic behavior, there is no normal bond with offspring. Oh, they can put on a hell of a good show engaging with their little successors, but there is no "there" there.

Very tellingly, the long segment ends when it's dark out, Kate goes back inside, shuts the front door, and Shoka remains outside to wander around in the dark all by himself on his birthday. I hate her. That is all.

Why does she do this? The same weekend they're sorting out the entire house, Kate planned Many and Cara's birthday party. There is something wrong with her. I think she purposely over schedules herself to cause stress and get attention and sympathy and perhaps even to watch the kids fall into a tailspin. There's no other reason to do something so ridiculous.

The family arrives at Skyzone for the party, which is basically a big indoor trampoline gym. We have these here and I've been there though haven't really participated. These sort of indoor fun zones were just becoming popular when I was a kid, popping up on every corner, and there was an amazing one called Adventure Quest near where I lived that was just awesome. It had everything from cargo nets and tunnels to a zip line. I tried to find it online to see if it's still around, but no such luck. They can be on the expensive side, but they often run deal days or have coupons, and they are simply a blast and also a good safe workout for kids. I think this was a good choice that pleases both ages of the kids.

I find it so interesting to watch these episodes through the lens of Collin is "dead." Here he rolls up to Skyzone separate from the family, Kate explaining he was with a friend that weekend. I find that odd since it seems the kids so rarely go off on their own like that. Weekends are for crowding on the floor in her bedroom I gather. But sure enough there he is with two apparently younger friends, both girls incidentally. The thought crossed my mind ten is probably pushing it to be interested in having sleepovers with girls or for most parents to find it appropriate, so that's interesting. He has a huge smile on his face and immediately runs to Mady and gives her a big bear hug. Nothing about this interaction seems strange or off, he just seems like such a normal kid with normal bonds with a favorite sibling. As I've said a hundred times, the idea he is so disturbed he needs to be banished from the family home for years now is simply impossible to believe. It's getting to the point where I refuse to believe it, and rather firmly believe it's Kate who can't or won't handle him, not Collin himself who can't be handled by the average decent parent. In other words, it's Kate, not him.

Mady and Collin have been favorites of each other since his toddlerhood, and we don't talk enough about how removal of one sibling from the home damages the other siblings left behind. Mady puts on a tough exterior and would likely never admit this, but she is being robbed of her relationship with Collin, the shared experiences and growing-up memories are being actively stolen from her. The damage to her as well could be irreparable.

On a side note, I think it's very interesting, and wonderful, that in California, they have such respect for the nature of sibling relationships that they have even carved out a rare exception to adoption based on sibling bonds. In other words, if one sibling is about to be adopted by a family and another sibling they are bonded with isn't (that second sibling might be living with another family, or perhaps a parent, or is too old to want to be adopted, etc.), the siblings can assert a "sibling exception" and get a judge to deny the adoption on the grounds that it is not in the best interest of the siblings and their close ties. Granted, it is a hard burden to prove, but at least a statement in the law has been made about sibling relationships.

Kate says doing a birthday party at a place like this is not her thing but this is what the twins wanted, and that's why she did it, because she no longer has control over how things will be. They are fourteen years old! It seems to me any kid old enough to speak is old enough to have some say in his birthday party, within reason. It's their party. It's supposed to be about their birthday, not the parents' ego or desires. Yeesh!

Why are Kate and her girls, left boobie and rightie, front and center bouncing away? Go away, it's not your party. Go stand with the other uncool parents and butt out.

Mady says Kate sometimes writes them off as "teenagers" to which Mady explains she's often acting like she is not because she's being a teenager but because Kate is being unfair. I buy that. We've seen Kate do many things to the kids that are fundamentally unfair, and being a teen has nothing to do with the greater point. So, rock on, Mady.

It's annoying the way Kate exaggerates. They had just done the "world's most stressfulist" (the f?) construction on the house. She's clearly never done some real work to a house. All they did was move around some bedrooms, painted some walls and barely did any decorating at all to make a bedroom a bedroom. What a martyr.

This episode is really another disorganized hodgepodge of random stuff. None of these little stories have anything to do with the other, which is lazy writing. The quality of post-production on this series took a massive dive once it became just Kate Plus 8. It really is like they didn't care anymore, and were just making filler to kill time and collect a pay check. Now the family is at a studio, doing a photoshoot. Kate says most families do periodic photoshoots like them. Um, I would venture to say that's not true at all. Many families can't afford periodic photoshoots, at least not real ones. Most photoshoots in a studio as they have done are very expensive. Even doing them at JCPenney isn't the cheapest thing to blow your money on. I would venture to say many families just take photos of the family with their phone and be done with it, which again puts her very out of touch with the real world.

They have an entire rack of clothes set up for different outfit changes, which is a dead giveaway this is a production photoshoot of some kind. Could Kate just be honest and say this is an official TLC (or some other official) photoshoot that's wrapped up in production's overhead, and not something she arranged and paid for? What nerve she has talking about the expensive things she thinks many families do when she likely isn't paying a dime out of pocket for this.

The little Dionnes are pros at this, especially the boys, who just get on with it and get this over with. Why is Kate the only one I can hear directing this whole thing? She has no idea what she's talking about. She's posing them awkwardly and most of the photos are terrible and unoriginal.

Predictably, Kate is starting to lose it and is yelling and snapping at the kids over stupid things. The only thing worse than a boring photoshoot is your mom nagging you on a boring photoshoot. Why is everyone else in the room hidden from camera? We never see even a glimpse of the photographer, and the part where Kate looks at the photos on a computer make it look like she's talking to a ghost when clearly she's talking either to a photographer or editor. The only person on camera has their face blurred. That is so odd, why would the photographers not want to be part of this? I can't even speculate the reasons for this strange situation!

There's some interesting little details to notice in the extraneous filler shots they show while Kate is blah blahing on the couch. In one, one of the boys has what appears to be a gift bag and is holding a large box, which from a distance looks like maybe a Lego set. What was that, the bribe for all this? Also in the background is some chick packing up craft services. Lots of waters and some foil dishes. So, this was clearly not a one- or two-hour event but rather warranted a full meal or at least a big snack. Sigh.

Kate heads to a local radio station to promote the yard sale. Oh that's totally a normal thing to do, go on the radio as a guest to peddle your old crappy junk. Heh. Kate knows the station from when she was on it to promote a 5k she ran in some years back, back when running was still shiny and interested her. Now Running's gone off to the black hole, taken off its tennis shoes and found a seat right between Aunt Jodie and Beth. Get comfortable, Running.

Kate laments that her biggest 1 percent problem is she has so much stuff it's filled her mansion to the brim and now she must get rid of it. Poor thing!

The yard sale money will go to the Animal Rescue League. Kate tells a story that is alarmingly short on details, that Shoka jumped the fence and so ARL found him and kept him overnight, and she didn't worry about him because they were looking after him.

So....many...questions! How did Shoka jump the fence and why? Was he bored, restless? Where was the rest of the family when this happened? Did this happen at night, or why else would they keep him overnight? Do you not bring your damn dog inside at night even, you shrew? And if she didn't worry about him, is she implying she knew ARL had him but she waited until the next day to get him? Next time he's going to get hit by a car before he's "rescued." What is her plan to ensure this never happens again? This story is such insanity for anyone who has even a shred of compassion toward animals.

Nothing happens over the next five minutes except Kate complaining how much she has to do to get ready for this yard sale, which will be an outdoor sale at what looks like a park. Why aren't they doing this at the family home like normal people? They have plenty of space for it. Having it off site just makes everything so much harder. Oh, lord, please do not ever buy or sell old car seats. It's incredibly dangerous and in some circumstances illegal, such if they've ever been in a crash no matter how small. Throw them out. 

Collin, who has proven to be an absolute sweetheart and one of the most likable of all these children, happily stacks books, remarking that he's excited as he's never done a yard sale before. He has a perpetual good sense of humor and positive attitude, in the face of an incredible amount of negativity around him. He is a good kid, and this long absence that is still not over will forever be disturbing to many viewers.

The editors kill some time by showing clips of old Halloween episodes, which they loosely tie into some Halloween decorations they are dumping. Heh, that was a stretch. I often picture these poor editors in their dark editing bays, putting these episodes together and coming up with a run time of maybe 35, 38 minutes .... and saying to themselves, all righty, we've got 6-8 more minutes we've got to come up with somehow, now what?

You can just guess the kind of sound bytes Kate offers about this thing. She felt prepared but unprepared, exhausted but knew she had to go through with it. She should just tape these little soliloquies and play them over and over for anything she is asked to talk about, it's always the same generic drivel.

Kate goes over to the garage sale site so early it's still dark out. Given this is summer in the northeast, that must have been very early. Mercifully, she let the kids stay home and sleep longer with "someone" staying home with them. Someone? I.e. the nanny? Why not just say the nanny? Good grief.

Kate's pissed Cara is selling some sort of magazine or poster Kate got for her last year from England. Imported from England? Geez, that's not spoiled at all. That's such a great example, ask the kids to give up things they still may have some attachment to and do it with a great attitude but when Kate doesn't want to let something go, she is permitted to stomp and hold her breath. Silly double standard. After all this getting up early, there is little organization or order to the tables, it's all just piles of junk. Wonder if any of Jon's old stuff made the cut.

There are a lot of people lined up to buy their piles of junk. The whole family, especially Kate, seems so very impressed and flattered by this turnout, but garage sale people are pretty intense that I've seen, you might find a line like this at any sale of this size, doesn't matter if the family is famous. Tip: call your garage sale an "estate sale" and your turnout will double. Semantics. I've stopped by garage sales if there's one within walking distance in the neighborhood and if I'm not there as soon as it opens, there's likely nothing good left. (That's why I prefer the app OfferUp for second hand stuff I'm interested in. If I want something and the seller commits to selling it to me, we can work out me picking it up any time. I don't have to be there at 7 a.m.)

Just to make things really hard, they also are selling baked goods and other foods too. It's highly unlikely such a thing like this is permitted on this scale without a permit, but Kate is not one to think of anything like that because she's stupid. They also have a grab bag stand, for 2 bucks you get a brown paper bag of most likely crap. Permits and other regulations aside to sell things like this, I do like the way this involves the kids and gets them engaged and excited about this event. It is probably boring for a kid to stand around watching the adults sell off old blenders and party decorations. The kids love it.

"How much for everything?" a young woman asks, who dolled herself up early and big time for her on camera debut. Hair curled and the whole nine yards. She had a line, so I say give that gal a SAG card. Garage sale people. How much for it all is not an uncommon question with that strange lot.

What's the point of post-production blurring some of the info on the yard sale sign? The sale is already over with. Not like you need to protect the location or something. Weird.

I think Kate is right, and I hate saying that, that it's just easier not to price anything. If people want something, have them suggest a fair price and be done with it. Makes it faster and easier. Plus it's for charity, so it's kind of like, whatever you want to give, 20 bucks or whatever, and take a few items you think are fair to take for that. Kate tends to make things overly complicated, so this no-price hassle free sale is out of character.

Twenty-five bucks plus a selfie with Kate, one gentleman offers for the crap he has collected. Mister, that is quite a bargain. Back in the day at speaking engagements those photos were a pretty penny plus you were expected to contribute to the "donation basket" being passed around so the family could keep their electricity on, and you didn't get any garage sale items with it.

You know how when you become a teenager suddenly your parents' jokes sound really stupid and Mom and Dad become just overall embarrassing? That's Kate, only you don't have to be a teenager to find her jokes so dumb and the woman embarrassing. I just want to cover my eyes when I watch her interact with the general public. But, I give her a tiny bit of credit for being upbeat throughout this sale and engaging with each and every buyer as they approach her, trying to have a bit of a conversation with them, at least from what we can tell. She must have been mentally exhausted but she did it.

Kate pats herself on the back again for donating to this dog shelter, plus, helping the needy, she practically says. She is so perched atop her throne, heh. You don't have to be poor to go to a garage sale! Is that what she thinks this demographic is? Some people just like a good bargain. Some people believe in reusing as much as possible before ever buying new. Some people think it's just fun to look through other people's stuff for treasure. I'm all of that and that's why I often buy used things (though as I said, usually through other venues like OfferUp). Some of these people are also here to get on camera, like 5 a.m. hair-curl chick, and quite frankly there's probably a few lookie loos who just want to see Kate and the whole TLC spectacle. Fair enough. There's nothing wrong with shopping at garage sales because you can't afford things otherwise of course and many people do, but for Kate to think that her garage sale is such a wonderful gift she bestowed on the poor and needy of Wernersville is just hilarious, since there is no evidence that's who attended.

I think it's funny that Kate has no idea how she sounds. She was shocked to meet so many good wonderful people at the sale. Who does Kate think usually attends yard sales for pity sake, murderers and rapists? Somebody's gonna turn up missing after this and be found in a shallow grave six weeks later? Sheesh! I'm glad to hear the commoners so impressed her with their decorum and generally clean criminal backgrounds.

"Do you remember me?" a woman says in a kind of creepy way, real quiet-like. "Your girls are beautiful," she goes on to say breathily. I think this woman just has a naturally breathy voice, but it sounds like the beginning of a bad horror movie. It's Kelly, an old coworker. Despite the breathy voice, she seems really sweet. Kelly seems to have a kid there exactly the younger kids' age--huh. And Kate says she lives nearby. Why not get together with this woman? Make friends with her, and the girls can make friends with her daughter. This was a golden opportunity to exchange numbers and rekindle something that would benefit everyone, but Kate being Kate not only doesn't think of it but I don't think even wants to. Kind of sad.

Kate is so unbelievably shocked to run into people she knows at this sale. If she got out more, she would realize that most people run into people they know all the time, especially in smaller towns but even in big ones. In the town I grew up in it would be rare not to see someone you know when you leave the house. In Los Angeles, I see someone I know out and about probably every other week. Even in a city that size.

I'm not sure who Kate is trying to convince here emphasizing how supportive everyone is and how kind to them and how much they love them. Like, I don't expect people to come to your garage sale and be rude and start engaging you in a moral debate over exploiting your children on television. That would just be odd and inappropriate in front of the children. This was a yard sale, not a meet and greet, and I would expect most people to come and buy something and leave like normal polite people. This sampling in no way represents the general public opinion about how these children have grown up, nor does it prove all her neighbors love her and have no issue with her (contrary to various reports especially from back at the house before this one) so I don't know who Kate is trying to fool.

They made just over $1100 for the animal rescue charity. I think that's pretty good for one morning, and it will certainly be a help to a fine charity. Well done, Wernersville.

In memory of Golly Gee, whose thoughtful perspective and steadfast optimism has been a treasured part of this blog. We toast you, Golly.