Not only have Jon and Kate Gosselin captured the attention of tabloids, paparazzi and the nearly 10 million people who watched the season 5 premiere of their reality show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," they've also perked the ears of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, which announced today that it's investigating whether the show is complying with child labor laws.
Labor Department spokesman Justin Fleming told The Associated Press that the department is looking into a complaint against the show. TLC, which airs "Jon & Kate Plus 8," said it "fully complies" with state laws and regulations.
The show, which chronicles the lives of the Pennsylvania couple and their brood (8-year-old twins, 5-year-old sextuplets) started its fifth season TLC Monday night, following a flood of speculation about whether the Gosselins' marriage is on the rocks and who's cheating on whom. (Various reports connect him with a teacher; her with their family's bodyguard. Other reports claim Kate made Jon sign a marriage contract that allows him to date as long as he shows up for tapings of their show.)
While the premiere's presumed focus was the sextuplets' fifth birthday party, it seemed a footnote compared to Jon and Kate's testimonials about the state of their relationship and the reports of their alleged infidelities.
Each affirmed they've never cheated on the other, but they did so solo, glumly, sitting on love seats that could easily have accommodated a hand-holding partner to bolster the message.
"I'm just all over the place," Jon admitted. "Kate and I obviously have been going through a lot of stuff."
While he stressed that he never betrayed his wife, Jon conceded he shouldn't have been out late at night, vulnerable to the paparazzi who now follow the Gosselins. Photographs taken weeks ago of Jon and another woman in a car sparked the first round of infidelity rumors.
"I'd like to apologize for my family for my actions. It was wrong place, wrong time," he said. "I didn't understand the ramifications on how it would affect everything. I should have thought about more of what I did and where I was going."
Kate made no effort to acknowledge Jon's apology.
"I have a lot of anger," she said. "He's made some very poor decisions. We have to live with them."
The two faced the camera together towards the end of the show. Asked what the future holds for their marriage, Kate said, "I wish I knew." Later, during another solo interview, she tearfully confessed that she wonders if the sextuplets' fifth birthday party might be the family's last major event together.
Jon acknowledged that they no longer want the same things, conceding, "We're going in two different directions right now."
The season premiere also featured a montage of the sextuplets' past birthdays, which may as well have been subtitled, "Good Times in the Gosselin Household." While Jon and Kate looked like a happily, if harried, married couple at those past parties, they now resemble work-weary business partners. Through the party planning, Kate emphasized again and again that she was handling preparations alone, without Jon's help, because he needed a break from the kids.
At a family cookout at the close of the show, they admitted that maybe it would be in the interests of the greater good if one of them bowed out of the operation. There's plenty of love to go around for the eight kids, but for each other? Perhaps not.