Unpacking The Controversy Surrounding ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8’

A new show has uncovered a dark side to this reality TV family.

Reality TV aficionados might remember Jon and Kate Gosselin.

The young couple were propelled to fame in the 2000s, when they and their brood of eight children (which included a set of twins and a set of sextuplets) became the subjects of the wildly popular TLC reality show, Jon And Kate Plus 8.

And while life for this family looked as blissful as it could with eight young children, now, Jon and two of their offspring are telling a different story.

In the latest episode of Vice TV’s Dark Side Of The 2000s, Jon, 46, and two of his sextuplets, Collin and Hannah, now 19, are speaking out about the strain the television show put on their family

Below, everything we know about the scandal surrounding Jon And Kate Plus 8.

Kate and Jon in 2009. (Credit: Image: Getty)

Who Are The Gosselins?

Jon and Kate Gosselin are parents to eight children: twins, Mady and Cara, 22, and sextuplets Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Alexis, Leah, and Joel, 19.

Their television show, Jon And Kate Plus 8, first aired in 2007, and documented the parents’ reality raising infant sextuplets alongside their twin daughters.

The Gosseling sextuplets shortly after they were born. (Credit: Image: @jongosselin1)

Are Jon And Kate Gosselin Still Together?

Cracks began to show in the Gosselins’ family life in 2009, when Jon and Kate announced they were separating after 10 years of marriage

The news was delivered to fans in an emotional episode of the show, with Kate saying tearfully, “It’s a fork in the road and goals are different now. But I don’t hate [Jon]. Never have, never will. He’s the father for my children. They’re great kids. The best.”

Following their separation, the show was reworked to be Kate Plus 8, with Jon taken off air.

The Gosselin family in 2007. (Credit: Image: Getty)

In June 2009, Kate filed for divorce, which she addressed in another episode of the show:

“Parents of multiples have triple the divorce rate. I was thinking we were going to beat that. I don’t know if I can say that anymore.”

The divorce also sparked a heated custody battle for the couples’ eight children. When it was finalised in December 2009, the duo were granted shared physical custody of the children, with Kate granted full legal custody. Despite this split, all eight children continued to live with Kate. 

Kate Gosselin was granted custody of all eight children. (Credit: Image: Getty)

What Happened To Collin Gosselin?

In the years following Jon and Kate’s divorce, significant controversy surrounded the whereabouts and wellbeing of one of the sextuplets, Collin. 

After fans noticed Collin was absent from images and footage of the family, Kate revealed to People  in 2016 that he had been enrolled in an institution at age 11 to deal with alleged behavioural issues. 

“Collin has special needs,” Kate said. “[There’s] a fairly fluid diagnosis of what those needs are, but he needs to learn certain strategies to help him deal with things. This has been a struggle we’ve had for a very long time, and it’s one I’ve dealt with on my own. I’ve felt very alone in this. By the same token, it’s not something that has only impacted me or him – our entire family has been impacted.”

Joel, Collin and Aaden Gosselin in (Credit: Image: Getty)

But in 2017, it was reported that Jon removed his son from the institution, revealed to be Fairmont Behavioural Health Institute, after the then-15-year-old begged his father for help.

In a letter obtained by the Daily Mail, Collin wrote to Jon:

“Dear Dad, I’m not trying to trick you, but I still love you. I told mum I want to live with you, she said no… I’m sorry. Take this to court because … you’re my dad, my saviour.”

Eventually, Jon was granted shared custody of Collin, and able to remove him from the institution. In the Vice docuseries, Jon said he spent “$1 million” trying to get his son out, including legal fees and psychiatric evaluations

Collin Gosselin in 2022. (Credit: Image: @collingosselin1)

On his relationship with Kate, the teenager, now 19, said, “I know my mother was going through a lot of things. I mean, a divorce, and plenty of different things that can’t be easy to go through.

Referring to the behavioural issues that allegedly resulted in him being sent away, Collin said, “I’m not going to say I was a perfect child. But I’d say my misbehaving was no different than from my siblings.”

In the program, Collin touched on the mental strain that being sent away had on him.  “It was a really, really dark place. All I had was myself. I didn’t have anybody else. You know, I had no support system. It was scary. I was confused. I was lost,” he said.

Collin, Hannah, and Jon Gosselin in June, 2023. (Credit: Image: @collingosselin1)

Does Collin Have A Relationship With Kate Gosselin Now?

Speaking to Vice, Collin revealed he no longer has a relationship with his mother or six of his siblings. Another of the sextuplets, Hannah, also moved in with Jon in 2021. 

Revealing the extent of their estrangement, Collin said he “didn’t hear anything” from his siblings or mother after a near-fatal car accident in 2022.

Has Hannah Gosselin Spoken Out?

Hannah Gosselin, who also lives with Jon, also weighed in on her brother’s experience.

“I don’t think effort was made to help him learn what behaviour is acceptable and what behaviour is not acceptable,” she said to Vice. 

She also said that he was regularly “separated” from his other siblings while in Kate’s custody.

“Like, he would not get to come and play outside with us. He would eat dinner at different times than us.”

(Credit: Image: @hannahjgosselin)

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the teen said that her mothers’ treatment of Collin contributed to her decision to live with her father. 

“I just feel like there was unfair treatment in my mom’s house and I just wanted to live with my dad,” she said.

However her relationship with her mother and remaining siblings has not suffered as much strain, with Hannah saying her relationship with her mum is “pretty stable.”

Does Jon Gosselin Have A Relationship With His 6 Other Children?

Jon and Hannah. (Credit: Image: @jongosselin1)

In the episode, Jon revealed he no longer has a relationship with Mady, Cara, Alexis, Joel, Leah, or Aaden.

“I have no access to the kids I’m estranged from. I have no idea why they stopped coming. I have no answers. Like, none. It’s the worst,” he said.

“I’d rather it be like, ‘You’re an asshole,’ or, ‘I hate you, and you did this to mom,’ or something,” he continued. “I have nothing. It’s like I have no closure.”

Has Kate Gosselin Responded To The Vice Episode?

Kate Gosselin released a statement following Collin, Hannah, and Jon’s appearance in the Vice episode.

Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE, she said: 

“I have never wanted to have to do this, but I feel I have been backed into a corner and left with no choice. Although it saddens me to do so, I need to speak out now. My son Collin, whom I love with all my heart, has received multiple psychiatric diagnoses over the years. For the safety of myself, his brothers and sisters and for his own well-being, he was placed in a facility following years of outpatient treatment which proved insufficient for his needs.”

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