Polly Kahl started blogging about the Gosselins after they moved to her small town of Wernersville, Pennsylvania. In the next two years she experienced a whirlwind of life lessons about reality TV and the business of entertainment as the Gosselin family splintered and eventually broke apart. Jon & Kate Plus Eight: "Reality" TV & the Selling of the Gosselins is full of insightful interviews, discussions and practical solutions from researcher Jennifer L. Pozner, child advocate Paul Petersen, actor Eric Roberts, body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass, Becki Dilley, parent of the Dilley sextuplets, and other experts on the entertainment industry and reality TV. The author, a professional counselor, adds her unique voice to the discussion with commentaries on the psychological aspects of the Gosselin phenomenon in this examination of “reality” TV and its impact on a fractured family TLC once called Jon & Kate Plus Eight.
Polly Kahl’s book takes the reader on a shocking journey behind the fake smiley faces of a popular reality television show. Having participated in realty television myself, I know the pressure camera crews are under to create interesting television from what might otherwise be boring times. Polly’s story casts that pressure and its effects in a new, and rather ruthless, light. I don’t know if this story has any heroes; perhaps everyone is a victim or villain. It certainly makes me see today’s reality TV from a new and more critical perspective.
-John Elder Robison, bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye and Be Different
Some wonderful works of art have emerged from blogs ~ Juno, the movie...and now Polly Kahl's book. We've heard horror stories about the life of Shirley Temple, and her mother's cold obsession with her success, and her horror as her daughter started to grow up and “lose her cute." The Brady Bunch kids were hated by the real children of the actors playing the parents. What happens when there's no separation? When the show family and the real family are one? Where does a child turn then? This book forces us to look at that, and gives us a means to take some steps to protect children in the fast-growing industry of reality TV. The beauty of it is that Polly offers solutions to the problems on which she sheds light. And we all need to be part of the solution. As the author points out, this is a time to think with our hearts.
-Eliza & Eric Roberts, Actors & Child Advocates
Prospective child stars and their stage parents have a best friend in Polly Kahl. Her very readable book on The Gosselins can serve as a warning to all future Michaels. While extremely entertaining, it is also a valuable reference as to the impact of reality TV on a family. It is a must read for anyone interested in celebrity culture and child development.
-Michael Brody M.D., Chair of the Media Committee, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Being in the spotlight is no easy task. I should know, having been a child actor from the ages of three to eighteen but I could leave the set, go home and be a kid. Not so for the eight Gosselin children, they have no escape. Polly Kahl looks at the sad truth about reality shows and their effect on the lives of their young participants.
-Jon Provost, former child actor of film and television, best known for his role as Timmy in Lassie