Jon & Kate Plus 8 returns for 5th conflicted season

 

Jon & Kate Plus 8 returned last night for an oversized season 5 opener, and the first show in the series since charges about the couple's marriage exploded in the tabloids: first, that Jon Gosselin had strayed with a teacher (after earlier partying with coed "friends"), then that Kate was unwholesomely linked with a bodyguard. Which meant that the friction between the parents of 8, which had been a grating/amusing subtext to the megafamily reality show before, was now uncomfortably front and center. 

Well, kind of. What TLC served up last night was a bizarre, jarring, excruciating and sad mishmash of what looked like two separate episodes spliced together. There was a (relatively) normal Jon & Kate episode, in which Kate corralled the troops to organize a fifth birthday party for the sextuplets—albeit under pursuit by paparazzi. Then there was what looked like a Barbara Walters special, as producers interviewed the two—mostly separately, as they appeared in most of the episode, about the upheaval in their family / media corporation. 

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