Reality television has invited us into the homes and lives of a lot of families-- some already famous (the Osbournes, the Hogans, the Kardashians), and some who were made famous (the Duggars, the Robertsons, the Roloffs). But few reality TV families have gained more fame and notoriety from becoming reality TV stars than the Gosselins.
At its most popular, Jon and Kate Plus 8 was bringing in nearly 10 million viewers-- by comparison, the most recent season of The Walking Dead brought in only 1 million viewers more.
Jon and Kate Plus 8 was the story of Jon and Kate Gosselin, a couple who had twin seven-year-old girls and a set of toddler sextuplets. The series followed the family of ten as they tried to live a normal, despite their large brood (and being on television). As it turned out, they didn't end up handling it very well.
Not only did Jon and Kate go through a very turbulent divorce, but the closeted skeletons that have been revealed in the years since paint a picture of two people who fall far short of the public personas they tried to portray on the show. Allegations range from physical and mental abuse-- of both each other and the children-- to email hacking, custody battles, and a marriage that might not have been built on love.
Here are 15 Dark Secrets About Jon and Kate Plus 8 You Had No Idea About.
15 TLC made Jon and Kate pretend they weren't separated
A lot of Jon and Kate Plus 8 fans had noticed a building tension between the couple as the series went on, but when you're trying to raise eight children-- two of whom are moody preteen girls and the other six who are just emerging from toddlerhood-- it would be difficult not to feel marital strain. When it was formally announced that the couple would be separating, it was still a surprise to viewers, even the ones who might have seen it coming.
As it turns out, Jon and Kate had already been separated for some time before the announcement, with the couple no longer sleeping in the same bedroom. But TLC knew that the appeal of the show was that it was about a family, and insisted that the couple hide their marital problems from the cameras.
Jon and Kate were forced to pretend as best they could to be a couple who was still together and happy, despite being well on the road to divorce already.
It was actually Kate Gosselin's brother who ended up first revealing to the press the true nature of their marriage.
14 They tried to skip out on a $10K marriage counseling bill
For what it's worth, Jon and Kate did actually try and work at keeping their marriage intact. While it's impossible to know how much of that was out of true love, and how much of it was a business decision since they knew their "brand" was more valuable as a married couple, there is concrete proof that they actively tried to save their marriage by way of a $10,000 marriage counseling bill-- that they tried to get away with not paying.
Kate sought the services of a mediation group in order to help with her marriage woes, and the service flew out one of their agents multiple times between Pennsylvania and California, which is part of why the fee ended up being so astronomical.
When Kate refused to pay the travel fees, claiming that she didn't have a contract with the company-- it was verbal so nothing was in writing-- they took her to court, where a judge ordered her to pay the $10K bill.
13 Kate is reportedly very difficult to work for/with
Sure, Jon Gosselin has a lot of negative things to say about his ex-wife. That's to be somewhat expected-- especially since she hasn't been shy about calling him out for things, either. But as it turns out, Jon isn't the only person who has come forward to say that Kate isn't exactly the Queen of Niceness.
In 2014 interview, one of the family's former nannies said that Kate had an actual "rule book" for her staff that was full of strict guidelines and ridiculous demands. Among the things forbidden of anyone working in the Gosselin home was slamming doors, vacuuming outside of designated blocks of time, and "not putting anything on the ground." Beyond that, various former employees of Kate Gosselin have said that she was unpleasant to work for, and would force people to be on call for 24 hours a day.
Echoing those sentiments, Kate's partner on Dancing with the Stars has said he is going to need therapy after the time he spent with her on the show.
In addition, her stint as a spokesperson for budget shopping blog CouponCabin was cut short due to her outrageous demands, abrasive personality, and lack of "authenticity."
12 Jon has a strained relationship with his children
With so much mudslinging between Jon and Kate about the other's supposedly bad parenting, it might be difficult to believe all of the negative things Kate says about Jon as a father. However, Jon himself has admitted that his relationship with his children has become incredibly strained in recent years.
In an interview on the talk show Steve Harvey, Jon said that he hasn't seen more than four of his kids at a time in several years. He told Harvey that he pulls up to Kate's house never knowing which kids he's going to get to see for that visit, and whoever comes out is who he gets that time. It certainly doesn't paint a great picture of him that he allows his visitations to play out that way, nor does it speak highly of him that his children sometimes don't want to see him.
Mady Gosselin, who is the oldest of the children along with her twin sister Cara, told People magazine, "He should maybe spend some time thinking about why we don't want to see him," and that "talking about us on TV is not the way to make that happen."
11 A picture shows Kate making "slant eyes"
In 2013, a photo was uncovered that shows Kate spreading her eyes in an obvious attempt to make them "slanted," which is typically associated with trying to make oneself look Asian in a derogatory manner. What didn't help things was that she was wearing an Asian dress-up wig at the time.
Not surprisingly, people were quick to call the photo racist and to slam Kate for being culturally insensitive. However, Kate refused to apologize for the photo-- which she says was only meant for personal use and not to be made public-- saying that her and Jon were just goofing around, and that the impression amused her husband, who is of Asian descent.
Kate then explained that being (formerly) married to an Asian man and having biracial children proves she isn't racist, explaining that, "It's normal to talk about and even 'exaggerate' the feature differences of a biracial family."
While a single jokey moment may not be enough to condemn someone as hateful, people-- especially famous people-- need to tread lightly, and probably shouldn't capture those jokes on camera.
10 Jon almost ruined the Ed Hardy clothing line
In the late-2000s, it was hard to find a photo of Jon Gosselin that didn't show him wearing a vividly-designed Ed Hardy t-shirt. Jon was all-in on the brand, and even became friends with Christian Audigier, who licensed the Ed Hardy brand for use in clothing and other products. At its peak, Ed Hardy clothing was grossing $700 million a year.
Unfortunately, that "peak" only lasted for one year (2009), and was followed by a huge plummet in sales and popularity. Ed Hardy himself blamed not only Audigier's handling of the brand for its collapse, but also named Jon Gosselin as a reason for the demise, saying that the reality star's association with the brand had a negative impact on it as Gosselin began to get increasingly worse press.
Clothing like Ed Hardy's is often only suited to a very specific time and place, and tends to burn white hot for a brief period before quickly fizzling out. It could've just been a coincidence that the fad had passed at the same time that Gosselin's reputation started to suffer. However, there's no denying the power of a celebrity endorsement to both help and hurt a brand in significant ways.
9 Kate reportedly married Jon for his family's money
Sources close to Kate Gosselin have claimed that Kate was always looking to marry a rich man, and said that during her time working in the medical field, she would "throw herself" at one doctor after another in the hopes of landing one. Obviously, that pan out for her.
Then, Kate met Jon Gosselin, a man whose family was said to be worth a fair amount of money. Jon has called his marriage to Kate affection-less and says that their ten years together felt more like a "business transaction" than a loving marriage.
For her part, Kate certainly doesn't seem to go out of her way to share fond memories of her time with Jon or talk about how much she loved him, so if she didn't only marry him for money, she doesn't seem to be trying all that hard to prove otherwise.
8 Jon says the show messed his kids up
Jon Gosselin has frequently said that growing up on a TV show wasn't healthy for his children, and that their unorthodox upbringing led to them not developing the way normal kids do. While Kate has always denied these allegations, saying that her children are just fine and that the show hasn't had any adverse effects on them, there are certainly things that may suggest otherwise.
Most notably, both Alexis and Collin were expelled from school, primarily for physical violence-- including attacks against adults. When asked about this, Kate was very diplomatic and simply said that the school was no longer able to meet her children's needs, but it isn't a great track record to have two children expelled from a school-- even in a family is large as theirs.
The fact that they are grew up on reality TV might just be a coincidence in regards to their behavior...or it could be a major reason for it.
7 Kate said Jon tapped her phone and hacked her email
In 2012, a book was released entitled Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World. In it, author Robert Hoffman paints an extremely unflattering portrait of Kate, seeming to confirm everything bad that has ever been said about the reality star, and adding a whole lot more to the pile.
These negative "tell-alls" are not uncommon for celebrities, but there is often very little that can be done about them. In this case, however, the book was only on sale for two weeks before Kate's lawyers successfully had it pulled.
In addition to shutting the book down, Kate said that ex-husband Jon had stolen a personal hard drive from her, hacked her email, and wiretapped her phone in order to get dirt to use in the book. Interestingly, she did eventually drop those claims against Jon-- which would've led to serious charges if they had gone through-- apparently content just having the book no longer be available.
6 Jon enlisted a fake girlfriend for a Vh1 reality show
It seems clear that both Jon and Kate love to be famous, and enjoy being in front of the camera whenever possible. While Kate hasn't had as much trouble with that, given that she got to continue being part of a show called Kate Plus 8, Jon has had to get a little more creative in maintaining his on-screen presence.
One of the ways that Jon tried to extend his 15 minutes of fame is to appear on the Vh1 reality show Couples Therapy, which has famous couples appear in order to try and fix their damaged relationships. When Jon asked his most recent ex-girlfriend, Hailey Glassman, to appear on the show with him, she declined. However, Jon was determined to get onto the show-- so much so that he supposedly "shopped around" for other women to appear on his show as his girlfriend.
He finally found a willing participant in Liz Jannetta, who apparently was just as eager for the chance at some fame (and cash) as she agreed to go on the show with him and play the other half of his "troubled relationship."
5 Jon and Kate have both struggled financially since their split
Jon Gosselin claimed he lost everything in his divorce to Kate, primarily because she got to keep doing the show that had become both of their livelihoods and he was then forced to fend for himself. Things eventually got so bad for him that he was reportedly spotted working as a waiter, and not at some swanky Hollywood eatery, either-- during the lunch shift at a major chain restaurant. The website Celebrity Net Worth's most recent assessment of Jon's finances as him only being worth $10,000.
Meanwhile, Kate -- despite continuing to be the star of a successful reality show as well as other TV appearances and endorsements -- has also claimed of late to be experiencing money woes. Not to pick sides, but in Kate's case, it seems as if she should only be broke if she hasn't been handling her money well. Jon definitely has a much more valid excuse for having leaner pockets these days.
4 Kate used to mock Jon's "manhood"
While lists like these are more effective when they focus on more "mature" dark secrets, this one was impossible to leave out-- especially because it does end up lending some credence to a more serious complaint that Jon has had about Kate.
Apparently not afraid to kiss and tell, Jon's ex, Hailey Glassman, told Steppin' Out magazine a very embarrassing bedroom secret about him-- that he has a "tiny, tiny, tiny" you-know-what. While it's easy to roll our eyes at such a childish statement, especially one made to a magazine and not just said between friends, it does perhaps speak to the kind of partner Jon is that an ex would feel justified in publicly belittling him in such a mortifying way.
Following that news, sources close to Kate told Us Magazine that Kate also felt Jon was physically inadequate, even giving him the nickname "Stubby" and mocking Jon's anatomy to family and friends.
Jon has long claimed that Kate was unkind to him during their marriage and would constantly put him down-- and if the Stubby story is true, he definitely wasn't exaggerating that accusation.
3 Kate has been accused of abusing and manipulating the kids
One of the most common complaints that Jon has had about Kate is that she is a bad mother, physically and mentally abusing their children and manipulating them into hating him. Any time Jon trots out a new accusation about Kate's fitness as a mother, it makes headlines and puts him back into the limelight so it's tough not to wonder if he's just doing it for publicity. Still, such accusations can't be completely ignored-- especially when Kate has allegedly been investigated for child abuse.
Last year, various outlets reported that Kate had allegedly been investigated for abusing her son Collin after he supposedly reported some questionable things to his caretakers at a treatment center for special-needs children. This followed leaked entries of what was supposedly Kate's personal diary in which she admitted to being so frustrated with Collin one day that she "spanked him as hard as [she] could."
For his part, Jon has claimed that he used to have to restrain Kate to prevent her from beating the children with wooden spoons and other objects as well as having to physically put himself between Kate and the kids to protect them from their mother's rampages.
2 Kate may have "copied" another mom's story
In that aforementioned tell-all book that got pulled from physical and digital shelves, the author also claimed that Kate Gosselin decided to become a mother of multiples after she became infatuated with another headline-grabbing family.
In 1997, a woman named Bobbi McCaughy briefly became famous for successfully giving birth to septuplets. McCaughy supposedly inspired Kate to follow a similar path, and she became determined to not only have a large number of multiples herself, but also hopefully glean fame from doing so.
While Kate denies those allegations, there are some striking similarities. Both mothers were staunchly opposed to reducing the number of babies despite the recommendation of doctors, which perhaps isn't a huge stretch. The real kicker is that McCaughy named the first-born of the group Alexis and the last-born Joel-- which is also the name of the oldest and youngest, respectively, of the Gosselin sextuplets.
1 Kate allegedly never had fertility problems
Related to the allegations of the previous entry, it has also been suggested that perhaps Kate never had the fertility issues that she claimed led to her getting the treatments which resulted in her first having twins, and then sextuplets.
It is alleged that Kate was simply so determined to have multiples that she decided to have fertility treatments not because she needed them to get pregnant at all, but to help increase her chances of having multiples. When the first pregnancy only resulted in twins, she went back at it and got her wish the next time around, eventually giving birth to sextuplets.
It wasn't quite the seven that she supposedly coveted in the McCaughy family, but Kate's sextuplets-- in addition to her twins-- were certainly enough to make her famous for her large family.
Do you know of any other behind-the-scenes secrets from Jon and Kate Plus Eight? Leave them in the comments!