Six Times Two.
by Meredith O’Brien
WEtv recently kicked off a brand, spankin’ new TV series with a very familiar premise: Their cameras are following a set of parents who have sextuplets – three girls, three boys – who are 16 months old. The dad works full-time and is gone from the house for the vast majority of the daylight hours, while the mom works part-time as a nurse. The husband struggles with some weight issues and the mom requires a tummy tuck in order to repair the substantial abdominal damage caused by carrying six babies at once. And while this may sound EXACTLY like the premise of another show about sextuplets which first premiered in April 2007 -- you might have heard of it, Jon & Kate Plus 8, starring Jon and Kate Gosselin – I have to throw in a caveat here, it’s like Jon & Kate the early years.
When I watched the first three episodes of WEtv’s Raising Sextuplets, which follows Jenny and Bryan Masche and their six toddlers, it was impossible to not think of Jon and Kate. Jenny -- a perky, energetic woman with long blonde hair and a big smile -- says the same exact things Kate first did when explaining how infertility treatments led to a sextuplet pregnancy, observing, "Nobody goes out and tries to have six kids. That’s ridiculous!" Over the course of the episodes, one notices that Jenny and Bryan, as laid back as Jon, don’t approach parenting the same way and this becomes a source of conflict. (Bryan says she’s "better" at some of the onerous baby-related tasks so he tries to get Jenny to do them while she gets annoyed, particularly when he doesn’t do things her way.) With their heavy work loads and omnipresent exhaustion, Jenny and Bryan barely have a moment of quality time with one another, which they say they desperately miss. "We’re like two ships passing on a sea of babies," Jenny said, noting that on top of his job in pharmaceutical sales, Bryan is also working on getting his MBA. "Unfortunately, sometimes we’re living two different lives," Bryan echoed.
Is this what happened to Jon and Kate? Parenthood – they have two more children than Jenny and Bryan – was so overwhelming that they lost one another in "a sea of babies?" They had no energy left to devote to their marriage? A tidal wave of day-to-day obligations smothered them? "The most important thing is that it doesn’t weigh on our marriage," Bryan said, of the amount of work he and his wife put into parenting their toddlers, working and taking care of their home. "We’re in this together," Jenny agreed. Wait, I’d heard that line before . . . on Jon & Kate, when their sextuplets were but 16 months old (they’re 5 now) and their reality show commenced, first in one-hour specials which then morphed into a series. Are the same tabloid-fodder marital woes facing the Gosselins in store for the Masches?