Thinking of Family in Time for Father’s Day

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Before I get started, I’m putting it out there that I love my family, and even though at times I may think about trading one or two of them, I would never actually go through with it (even if I could).

With that out of the way, I find myself inspired to let you know my thoughts on family, family values, and child exploitation. Which I guess really means I’m here to talk to you about cable TV’s nightly line-ups.

Should I start with Kim Kardashian and her clan?

Or “Living Lohan” which, oddly enough, doesn’t star Lindsay but is still somehow all about her?

Maybe I should start with Denise Richard’s, her complicated life, and her fondness for obscenity.

We could always look at the Hogan clan: Brother Nick’s in jail, mom Linda is dating a 19-year-old (former classmate of her children), daddy Hulk is traipsing around with someone that eerily looks like his daughter, and Brooke (according to various media sources) is in the throes of a breakdown.

Don’t forget Scott Baio who’s made a comeback surrounding his personal life and the birth of his daughter.

Kimora Lee’s fabulous life includes her children (which isn’t a bad thing), but she brings them in front of the camera (which is).

Deion Sanders and wife Pilar have their own train-wreck-waiting-to happen.

Then there was also Tori Spelling’s foray into reality TV AND the hospitality industry.

John Gotti would be proud his sweet Victoria put her and her family on display with “Growing Up Gotti”

Musicians aren’t above this trend either. Look at:

Snoop Dogg
Gene Simmons
Rev. Run
The House of Carters
The Osbournes
Meet the Barkers
Jennifer Lopez (whose show is in development)

This begs the question: is having a reality TV program worth jeopardizing your family?

Now, I understand that correlation does not mean causation.


Look at the facts: few, if any, reality TV families go unscathed by the attention their show creates.

And I’ll even branch it out and say that that applies for families who were never in the media spotlight before hitting the small screen.

Then there are other programs, like:

I Know My Kid’s a Star
Nanny 911
Wife Swap
Jon and Kate Plus Eight
Trading Places
Family Plots
Little People, Big World
American Chopper

These shows take unknown families, and either place them in extraordinary conditions (such as trading out family members), or simply document their daily lives.

Most people contend that reality shows are contrived, and I would bet that there’s fairly a lot of “set-up” that goes on, but I firmly believe that what you see is what you get with these people under those circumstances. True, in normal, everyday life, when you’re not being followed by cameras, you might not find yourself in some of the foibles that you do when you’re on reality TV.

But who’s to say that, given that major variable, people aren’t acting exactly as they would under those conditions.

It would then (logically) follow that the fall out from the show is truly a consequence of the show, of which participation was an active, thoughtful choice.

So, knowing that you’d be bringing an unprecedented amount of attention and stress onto you and your family, why do people clamor to be on these shows?

The average family, at best, gets a stipend for their weekly filming, but is that enough to warrant having your homes invaded and your lives dissected by millions of viewers that don’t know you from a hole in the wall?

Perhaps it is, if you have a cause you’re pushing (like the acceptance and fair treatment of little people in “Little People, Big World”) or a business you’re looking to promote (as is the case with “American Chopper”). And even when you’re promised a lump sum of cash, like with “Wife Swap,” after taxes, therapy, and almost inevitably divorce lawyers, is it really worth it?

That makes it even more shocking that celebrities would choose to subject their children to further media scrutiny. While I’d be hard-pressed to think these deals didn’t have some serious cash behind them, if you’re successful enough to warrant a show (suffice it to say, people are actually interested in you and your happenings), then don’t you have enough money already? Do you need to ink a deal that merely offers you another drop in your monetary pond?

We’ve seen that reality TV is hard enough on adults (look at the divorce rate between people that have chosen to broadcast their relationships on TV, the post-reality TV rehab stints, and failure to launch careers with longevity), so how can we assume that children would be better equipped to deal with the spotlight?

Yes, there is a market for reality TV, and yes, I am a part of it; I dig the schadenfreude. But just because there are people out there that will watch it doesn’t mean it should be aired.

Look at snuff films: they’ve got a market, I’m sure, but we don’t cater to it.

Point being, before thinking of their already fat wallets, celebrity parents should look at the price of rearing a child in front of the world. Hopefully they (or their trusting team of accountants) will realize it’s just not worth the cost.

Jackie for


Updated by Danielle Oct 30 2017

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