I felt pretty stupid after watching last night’s season premiere of Celebrity Wife Swap starring Kate Gosselin and Kendra Wilkinson. Mostly because I somehow let myself forget how much I dislike Kate Gosselin. She’s simply the worst!
Which I hate because way back in the early days of Jon & Kate Plus 8, I used to defend her. Of course she’s a heinous bitch, but she’s the mother of twins and sextuplets. If she comes off as anal-retentive and unloving it’s only because she’s has to be to maintain order in that house. It’s not like Jon Gosselin ever made her life easier. The show made that much clear.
But then fame went to her head, she quit her job as a nurse, moved into a mansion and hired all kinds of help. Nannies, bodyguards, housekeepers. Suddenly it became hard to sympathize with the women who lives a life of luxury. I didn’t begrudge her success but I also didn’t buy her whole “I’m just a regular mom” schitck anymore. Unless of course I’m unaware of the large demographic of mothers of multiples who made it big after starring on a reality show.
When people finally tired of her act, she disappeared from our lives. And things were good. Then she re-emerged last night on the show and reminded us just how qualified she is at leading her very own pity parade.
As a secret lover of all things Wife Swap, I know the deal with the show. Two moms from completely different families switch places for a week, struggle with their new families, learn some valuable lessons and then go home and change virtually nothing about their own lives. I think the predictability of it is what keeps me coming back to it. Every single time, these women are shocked, just shocked that this other family lives so differently than their family. Celebrity Wife Swap is no different. The celebs are just more aware of being in front of the cameras, so they reign themselves in a lot more.
So Kendra arrives at a huge house in Pennsylvania that clearly houses a giant family. She wonders “who lives here?” As if she really can’t figure it out. Hmmm a reality star who lives in Pennsylvania and has a lot of children. Who can it be? Eventually she finds a photo and is like “ZOMG, Kate Gosselin and her 400 kids live here, I’ll never be able to do this!”
Meanwhile Kate arrives to Kendra’s house in California and meets Hank Baskett and Little Hank. Sidenote: Little Hank’s adorable. He also attends school fulltime, has a nanny fulltime and is seemingly well-behaved. Kate’s immediately jealous — and expresses that by finding faults with the way he’s being raised. “It’s ridiculous that Hank’s so nice to Kendra!” she says throughout the episode. Because one time she was married, but it was too a man-child with questionable hair. And since she’s had an unhappy marriage, everyone must have an unhappy marriage. No one will be happy until Kate is happy!
Back to Kendra. She meets the kids and they’re amazingly well-behaved. This worries her because children should be running amuck and setting fires to things and flushing expensive jewelry down the toilet. There’s a point where she watches them do chores and actually cries because CHORES! Naturally when it’s her turn to change the rules, she shuts down Kate’s forced labor program and lets the kids run free. And by run free, I mean eat tacos on the basement floor picnic style. Because that’s what all kids crave. Dinner on the floor! She’s surprised because they’re all like, “actually we like eating at tables and other places where people can’t step on our food.” So she gives up on her grand “let kids be kids” experiment and allows them to eat at the table.
To be completely honest, the kids seemed to be pretty normal for a bunch of kids raised by Jon and Kate on a reality show. I’ll credit the household help for that and hope they continue on this trajectory. Also, I kinda like Mady. She turned out pretty cool. And that’s all you need to know about that part of the show.
Now travel with me back to California where Kate attempts to explain family time to Hank. She’s all, “kids don’t belong in school, they belong with their parents!” So she takes Hank out of school, a place where he’s probably surrounded by age-appropriate activities and peers and spends the day with him. She’s like “LOOK HANK, HE LOVES IT! HE LOVES ME! LET’S TRADE KIDS!” Also on her agenda? Teaching Little Hank how to sit at a table and eat dinner like an adult. In other Wife Swap episodes, these scenes are actually entertaining because the kids literally cannot behave. However Little Hank clearly can behave pretty well for a toddler at a dinner table. So Kate just nitpicks the kid the whole meal and is like, “seeeee Hank, he needs more structure,” — completely forgetting that he attends a school daily that likely has plenty of structure.
After Kate reteaches Hank Baskett how to parent his son, she tells us the valuable lesson she learned from this whole swap. Just like Kendra, she needs more me time. She needs to stop feeling guilty about thinking about herself and really just dive right into it. Because in case you forgot, she’s alllll alone in this lonely world. Pooooor Kate. She returns to her house full of children with the express intent of making more time for Kate. Like I said it’s amazing how great those kids are turning out considering everything. It’s also amazing how much Kate wanted to freak out during this episode, but reined her emotions in so that it just looked like she wanted shoot lasers out of her eyeballs.
Also I just want it on the record (because I think I work for a law firm) that a running theme of the entire episode is that Kate does everything on her own. The kid-raising, the house-cleaning, the dog-feeding. All of it! That’s why she makes Hank fire his housekeeper and nanny for the days when she gets to make rule changes. If she can do it all alone with 8 kids, anyone can!
Yet, she wrote a blog for The Stir in January bemoaning the loss of her longtime cleaning lady. A cleaning lady she presumably had when this show filmed last fall. So just want to leave that tidbit there. As I said earlier, it’s totally cool if Kate has help. She has 8 kids, she certainly deserves an extra hand or two. But it’s not cool for her to tell us how hard it is to do it all on her own when she’s not.