Sunday, November 16, 2008


Submitted for post by Sandycheck.

I have been thinking lately about the blogs I read about this show, and I have noticed a trend that bugs me..

I work in television, and I do some editing, and I am here to tell you right now that while some can say editing has nothing to do with the show it in fact has everything to do with the show. I will break it down from an editing standpoint…The days the film crew is at the house the kids are probably awake for about ten hours. That’s ten hours of footage four times a week that the editors then have to break down into 22 minutes of show. There are people on a television crew whose specific job it is to find out what America wants from this show. Viewers, through things such as blogs, letters, comments, and fan sites, tell the producers what they want. GWOP, GDNNOP? Those are excellent places to start. These kind of “fans” (believe it or not, you are considered a fan even if you don’t like the show. If you write about it, think about it, in any way shape or form, you are a fan. If you’ve never heard of the show, you’re not a fan.) are the way the show stays in business.

Each show on TLC is different in a way. Jon and Kate Plus 8, if you’ve noticed, isn’t really the same show it first was. This does not necessarily mean they are different people, it means the editing agenda has changed. People responded to the real way they talked to each other, people thought it was funny how she play slaps him, etc. So the editors played it up. People like the trips, so they send them on more. The reason you don’t see the Duggars doing that is because that’s not what people want to see from them. Viewers have responded to their “down-home religious” values, so the editors play it up. Viewers like the Roloffs with their remodels and farm life, so they play it up. See a trend?

The Gosselins (and their show) are the way they are because we have made them that way. Controversy is a good thing for a show, because it sparks interest. I read comments on these blogs that say “I saw you mentioned this, so I went back and watched it myself.” This is “sparked interest.” Where I work (in television), when we get letters from people who don’t agree with the show we put out, we read it and throw it out. It’s not like there’s some database at TLC where they’ve catalogued each of the GWOP’s 120,000 letters so they can show the producers they don’t like it and cancel. That’s not how it works (a disclaimer- they do read them and take them into consideration, but compared to the millions of letters they get saying the show is great, these letters mean nothing). It’s not science people.

Just remember when you’re watching the show that that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re watching a show. A 22-48 minute glimpse into the lives of people you do not know. It’s a glimpse, not the Truman Show.

As a side note, advertisers don’t always have a choice when it comes to which shows they are placed on. Rogaine didn’t call TLC and ask to be put on during the J&K hour. They sign a contract with TLC as a whole. So if you’re writing them a letter, it’s going to go in the trash. Just a little heads up.


Lizabeth said...

Thank you SO much for this article, Sandycheck! I have thought and said for awhile that we all need to be careful what we assume, since we do not know the whole story. It is good to know from a production stand point that this is the truth.

I remember Jon and Kate talking about how the shows are made once, and that while it is not scripted they do meet with production and let them know what events are coming up so that they can decide what to film. This seems to be a way to keep things organized, and echos the sentiment you expressed that this really is just "A 22-48 minute glimpse into the lives of people you do not know. It’s a glimpse, not the Truman Show."

Saint said...

That's what I have come to believe...that the show was very poorly edited in that third season to portray Kate as much more of a ***** than she is. I hope she had something to do with her softer portrayal this season but this post seems to say, it's up to the network. In other words, it IS damage control, but not so much on J & K's parts, but on the part of the production company. They're the same as always, though the show changed. Makes sense to me.

Years ago I watched one season of Survivor, the first. I HATED the guy who won, but on the finale show, the other participants were very positive about him. Hmmmm, I thought. Was this really REALITY? It wasn't; I was manipulated. Those GWoPpers have been manipulated. It doesn't change. If ONLY I'd remembered that when PM started that blog! Oh well, live and learn.

Daisy said...

Sandycheck, thanks for taking the time to write about what you know about editing. It's very informative. I've thought editing had a lot to do with it all along and am glad it's true.

The Gosselin's really are a normal family, well as normal as you can be with twins and sextuplets.

Saint said...

I want to add that editing a child to fit a negative stereotype on TV because his/her worst behavior in a week has been distilled into 22 minutes of entertainment is unwise. I don't care how much money they are offered, it's still wrong. Saying "it's the editing," may be true, but it's no defense. I believe that the third season did exactly that to one of the Gosselin children. I do see a big improvement this season though, and not acknowledging that would be wrong also.

Guinevere said...

I want to add that editing a child to fit a negative stereotype on TV because his/her worst behavior in a week has been distilled into 22 minutes of entertainment is unwise. I don't care how much money they are offered, it's still wrong. Saying "it's the editing," may be true, but it's no defense. I believe that the third season did exactly that to one of the Gosselin children. I do see a big improvement this season though, and not acknowledging that would be wrong also.

Saint, this is a good point. I may argue with people about how damaging it may or may not be for the producers to show Mady's tantrums, but I never thought of it from quite this perspective. I don't like the idea that any of the Gosselins are being edited to create a particular view of them that is only part of the story. But at least with J&K, they are adults who have made the choice. I think they have a greater duty of fairness to the kids, whose participation in the show is not so much of a conscious choice.

I don't *know* that the producers have edited Mady unfairly. I would hate to think they'd do that to an 8-year-old. But I'd even go so far as to say they might want to air on the side of a more positive portrayal of all of the kids, for the reason I mentioned above. If Mady is be pissy, say 20% of the time, but the producers portray it only 10% of the time, I'm okay with that. I don't think the kids' personalities should be completely sanitized - partly because I don't think any of their behavior is so egregiously bad that it needs to be hidden. But, again, I just think with young kids erring on the side of giving them a good edit is the right thing to do.

merryway said...

I have wondered how this show is edited in order for TLC to twist things to suit their needs. I think TLC has lost some of their control since they have turned J&K into celebrities. The more public J&K become, the less control TLC will have on how they are perceived by the public.
TLC's promo for tonight shows is Most Shocking Sunday (or something like that, I forgot the exact wording just as I started to type).

CeeCee said...

Figure 8 doesn't want things to be boring and I have often felt they "set up" Kate (situations they know will send her over the edge).

Which is not to say that I think she's this sweet and mild person and is being shown otherwise -- I don't believe that at all -- but I do think they have played to those people who like to see her act crazy (as opposed to people like me who don't like that).

It's all about drama and ratings, people. The more drama from Kate, the more the show is talked about and the higher the ratings.

SamanthaNC said...


Thanks! I have said before that while no they cant film what isnt there- they can edit and play up certain things/traits- and leave others out all through the magic of editing!

Mom said...

Thanks Sandycheck!

At one time I worked on the other side of media where I was "pitching" my organization for news coverage. I learned VERY quickly to always say the organization's mission/message over and over again regardless of what the reporter asked me, because, I had been edited once for "shock" value and, well, hated how it portrayed the clients I helped.

Thanks for your insight! :-)

indianprincess said...

No matter how the show is spun someone will not agree with what they show.

Whatever they decide to show on Jon and Kate plus 8 is only what they want to show for drama to bring people to watch. If the family gets along all the time and with happy faces then people would complain this isn't based on an average family but the sound of music.

Kikibee said...

Thanks Sandycheck, that is really interesting.

I have often thought that there is probably some footage out there that could make even Jodi and Beth look less than saintly. Maybe some eyerolls, exasperated sighs, impatient responses to the kids' antics. Anyone taking care of small children is bound to have some less than stellar moments. (Remember Jodi got a bit cranky with Kevin during the sick kids-hair transplant episode. And Beth mimicked Joel's whine at the spa in Utah- a big no-no when J & K do it.) They aren't perfect all the time any more than Kate is a total bitch, no matter what they decide to show us.

marci said...

Good to know what we've guessed may be true just might be the case when it comes to editing this show.

Thanks for the insight!


Check your email! :)

nc resident said...

Two specific show scenes come to mind when you talk about editing. The first is the Utah trip, I noticed what appeared to be the entire trip, Kate, seated alone. At one point even laying down across three seats. To a person that does not like Kate that feeds the Kate doesn't take care of her kids fire. Another was when they returned from a day trip. Jon made several trips to unload the van and kids and the end shot showed Kate still seated in the passenger seat. I do think what we see is an accurate picture as they say the show is their life, but the show is edited.

I agree with you and also think someone, even though J&K say they don't read negative comments, looks for feedback. The FAQ show detailed how the trips work, I do not know for sure but I bet someone picked up on comments about how they can take so many trips. Not disagreeing based on fact I question whether the trips is a good thing or bad. Not every viewer is in agreement with the trips, in fact many see this as a bad change in the show. Even the posts here regarding favorite situations related the one on one trips and Hannah pooped LOL and others not many mentioned the trips.

Again on the interaction I agree TLC has said their interaction is what people want to see.
But, you do not see Kate slapping or love tapping this season, less of Mady when she is being "difficult" and the last shower scene ended with a closed door, Im glad. Somebody, maybe the image consultant told Kate to tone it down, maybe she saw it and did it on her own. All of these items were discussed in depth on the other blog. Not that show personnel or TLC read that blog, but something caused a change.

I do have a question, if you have followed the Jodi situation. Why would J&K have the authority to decide who works on the show but no creative imput. Kate supposedly said no to Jodi and Beth being paid. Therefore they are no longer on the show. But then Kate states they do not control what we see, the way it's edited. In fact they say alot of their religious beliefs, or practices are edited out. Even though I usually appear anti-Kate this is one area, the Julie blog and PM drama that I am less than convinced on. I guess Im trying to say if the TLC edits Kate to be mean then is it how it is, what they think we want to see, or showing a nice person in only the worst case scenario? I would insist on some creative control, no shower, respecting Mady and Cara when they arent being nice, things like that.

Also to sum it up you are saying that TLC uses viewer feedback to set the tone of the show, but that negative feedback will not get it cancelled. Right?

Most all of the post I agree with I hope you used the numbers figurately speaking. This show had 3.8 million viewers approx. week of11/3, wasnt in the top 10 for cable shows. Hard to believe TLC has gotten "millions of letters" saying the show is great. Also don't see where 120,000 number of GWOP letters came from. If it is figurately speaking my apologies, but I doubt fans vs dislikers is 10 to 1. But I guess it really doesnt matter if they want the show to be watched by those that love it like it dislike it or hate it.

Finally I don't think I would ever discourage anyone from writing a sponsor. If they ignore it thats okay, but I would tend to believe that enough negative feedback well placed to a sponsor might turn some heads. Not saying that needs to be done, just saying.

themrs said...

i agree about the editing, that is a big part of what bothers me. if they are taking forty hours of footage to make a 22 min episode, then there is no need to show things like kids on the toilet, maddi screaming while J&K disregard her, kids in the bath, etc. they should plenty of footage that's not invasive to the kids. i'm not saying they should have it be all "peaches and cream". a tantrum or timeout here or there is fine. but five minutes of discussing one kids bowel issues or children who are really sick is unnecessary. if my kids were being "type cast" in a negative way, i think i'd have to say something. J&K do have some power here, they can say "stop or we won't do this anymore". they know they are making TLC alot of money, they can use that to their advantage.

kimber said...

ncresident said:
I do have a question, if you have followed the Jodi situation. Why would J&K have the authority to decide who works on the show but no creative imput. Kate supposedly said no to Jodi and Beth being paid.


I think Kate has the right or "authority" to decide who takes care of her kids and visits her kids - it's not really about who "works" on the show.

If Jodi or Beth started being paid for appearing on the show I think it would change the motive (for them) for being there. At least I think Kate might feel that way. She might think that Jodi (I'm going to leave Beth out of it because I don't know for sure what/if anything happened between them) wanted to take care of the kids or just visit more often (when the cameras were around) more for the money she was going to get than to help out or to be with the kids.

I don't know if that makes sense, but I remember Kate saying she was happy that they had a core group of people who were in their lives and there for the kids for the right reasons, and once you add paying some of those people into the mix, especially family..,it just seems like that might change the relationship because there's a feeling that maybe Jodi is there for the money (even if before, she wasn't). Maybe Kate would start to think that Jodi wanted to be there before when the cameras were there in hopes that one day she'd be offered money to be on the show. Suddenly there would be suspicions about motive. IMO it would have tainted the whole "relationship." I can really see where Kate is coming from, pulling back because there was an issue of money, whereas before there was no money issue.

Kelley said...

I don't think the kids' personalities should be completely sanitized - partly because I don't think any of their behavior is so egregiously bad that it needs to be hidden.

Very well put! Making the kids into blank cookie cutter images, or watered down versions of themselves would be just as bad as over emphasizing their bad qualities.

Sandycheck, this was a great article with good insight to the editing process. What I gathered from your article is this: The producers put together the first season(or how ever many episodes) based on what they think will sell, and then as the season goes on they shift focus based on the data gathered by the researchers. It's a continual process right? If viewership wanes, they'll look at their polling data and shift again...toward something that will spark a new interest in current viewers and possibly grab a few more new viewers. Is that how it works?
Thanks again :)

floridamom said...

I found it funny that people think Jodi and Beth were editted to look "saintly". I never thought they were saintly, just nice, normal, polite people. I do think the producers do enjoy loading episodes with Kate meltdowns because she is the person that many people love to hate. I don't hate her. I don't know her. I agree that the show is not a total picture of who she is. I think there is another aspect to why the show has changed. I'm sure that you start to get used to the perks of this lifestyle. Can you imagine the Jon and Kate of the first season being given that mega-vacation in Hawaii. They probably would have gone beserk. They seem to take all the luxeries more in stride now. I know they appreciate it, but it would be hard not to get a little jaded. I don't think that has anything to do with editting. (IMO)

scarfoot said...

I have always found it very logical that we are seeing very little of what is actually happening. So what I've always wondered is, if the show is really portraying individuals such as Kate and Mady unfairly, wouldn't Jon and Kate be furious? I know if I were Kate, I would NOT be happy about how they portray me - let alone my daughter.

I have briefly wondered if Mady acts this way so much that the show truly has plenty of footage of her behavior, or if they are targeting her? Shame on TLC if the latter is the case.

(I'm really not trying to say that anything is "wrong" with Mady, she's just the one the show seems to show the most in a negative light.)

nc resident said...

All I was saying is that J&K should have editing rights. TLC or Figure8 allow them to decide who can be on the show why not editing. I think you kinda missed what I was saying it was positive for J&K.

However, from what I read the only compensation was going to be for filming at Jodi and Beths. If you think about it just people being in and out causes wear and tear on your home. Carpet, flooring, walls, adding, removing lighting. People on the lawn, driveway, things like that, if the crew damges something who pays. I didnt get the impression that Jodi or Beth were going to be paid as co-stars, babysitters or more story lines would be added. If they get paid J&K still have control over when their children see them, right.

Almost everything we see on the show is in exchange for advertising. Any sponsors that don't contribute are blurred out. They could have compensated Jodi and Beth for use of their homes, J&K still could have had control of where they went over and how often.

IMO Kates concerns over dynamic changes if they had gotten paid are no more founded then changes Jodi and Beth could have felt when J&K were being paid as regulars on their own show.

Saint said...

I don't think the kids' personalities should be completely sanitized - partly because I don't think any of their behavior is so egregiously bad that it needs to be hidden.

We agree on this, too, Guin. It's better-balanced this season, to me. First of all, the trip west has just been beautiful. (I am really looking forward to their vows renewal.) The little negative stuff seems realistic and appropriate. My favorite example of this is Mady's fear of going in the water on the boat. I didn't mind them showing that because it ended with Kate encouraging her and helping her. Even if she had not gone in, that would have been a great way to show that some kids need more encouragement, some may need more time to get over their fears. But in the end, the scene showed Mady getting in and swimming with her mom. (I should go back and put that in the favorite scenes post.) That was a nice example of the production crew filming something less-than-positive, but using it well.

Barbara said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for the info. I also think that GWOP has, for a very long time, thought they were going to get this show taken off the air. Where they come up with 120,000 people over there is beyond me. The majority of the posters are anonymous and for all we know they are the same person posting over and over again. Besides that, if you are the top rated cable program then you have a lot more lovers than haters of this show.

nc resident said...

Scarfoot I totally agree. But I'm confused. If we believe the post above then the show is edited to maximize viewers. They show what they think we want to see. So in theory the show is this IMO.
A couple that has eight children. 2 sets of multiples. They are filmed at various locations and the theme deals with different scenarios, all of which (locations) have been predetermined, based on advertising considerations except for the talk shows which promote the book. They film them for 10 hrs a day for 4 days. They then edit what is taped in an effort to keep the viewers happy even if it results in negative portayal of the participants. This cannot be reality nor can it be anyones life. IMO

marci said...

testing, testing.

Saint said...

I agree with what you wrote, too. I've wondered about how much of Mady's portrayal is honest and how much is tweaked by editing. Obviously, it's Mady having the meltdowns, and they seem sincere, not forced. No one thinks the adults around her try to find frustrating situations to promote tantrums. I think J&K didn't object at first b/c it really is a feature of Mady's "sensitive" nature. It's part of what they deal with as parents, and they were committed to showing their challenges. I just don't think they realized that editing it into 22 minutes of TV would make her look a whole lot worse than she is in real life. She may be the "vocal" girl in their family, and they live with it and love her for it. What I doubt they realized is that those of us who don't see her in her off-screen moments would get a different impression. I also think they finally "got" that this year, maybe b/c of feedback from family/friends, or even the Internet.

Nina Bell said...

I am beginning to think when is Reality TV ever really reality? For some strange reason a year or two ago, I was addicted to the shoe "Being Danny Bonaduce." It was evident to me pretty quickly that he was performing for the camera. Although I know he is quite the character and doesn't need a reason to act out, it was really obvious that with each episode that was exactly what he was doing. Trying to get more viewers for the next episode or keep the current one's coming back. I am sure the producers loved every minute of it.

That being said, I don't really view Jon and Kate plus 8 as a reality show. I just view it as a show. Entertainment. Some of it I am sure portrays their life accurately and some of it doesn't.

Ruthe said...

Finally, we come to the meat of the matter. Once life is filmed and edited, can it be considered real life?

This reminds me of a riddle...

When you speak my name, I no longer exist. What am I?


nc resident said...

Nina that might be a good thread. Is there enough or to much Reality TV on today. Does it influence daily lives of viewers. You and Quin can expand on this.

Nina Bell said...

nc resident

Sounds like a good idea. We have another post that was submitted that we will be posting mid week. Maybe we will follow with that.

Sandycheck said...

Thanks guys for the feedback!

The 120,000 letters was an exaggeration, and I'm sorry. I don't know how many letters they've written (I just laugh sometimes because over at GWOP it's like a many letters have you written today??) I was just implying that based on the ratings, it seems to me that they have many more people loving the show than hating it (While they aren't one of the top rated shows in America, they are the top rated by far on the network).

I also never meant to imply that people should never write letters concerning things they care about. I just meant to point out that most advertisers don't have the power to pick and choose which shows they are advertised on.

nc resident said...

I think they are the top rated show on TLC.

Nina that thread could also explore questions like do we seeing 30 minutes have the right to make judgements things like that thanks.

SuzieQ said...

What if the show is being edited in a way that would make Jon and Kate look better?

What if the parts of the show left on the floor is far worse? You know that saying, "what happens behind closed doors." Well the camera crew I'm sure is privy to seeing the good, bad and ugly. I mean they want the show to succeed because it is their income too.

What would be the motive of the camera crew to show or edit the episode in a way that would shed this family in an unfavorable way?

Nina Bell said...

Suzie Q

Viewers, viewers and more viewers. Anything controversial draws the crowd. That is evident by the fan base at GWoP. They don't watch because they enjoy the show. They watch because they enjoy seeing those moments that are edited in. The good the bad and the ugly. I don't know if it was this thread or another, but I mentioned watching the Being Bonaduce series several years ago about Danny Bonaduce. I will admit it was not the tender moments between him and his children that kept me coming back. They were nice but it was the out of control what will he do next behavior that made me want to watch.

Guinevere said...

I agree with Nina; I think to some degree the producers are plugged into the "controversy" about the Gosselins and thus play up certain aspects because it helps ratings. If all the people who claim to be so disgusted stopped watching, maybe it would be different.