Jon and Kate Gosselin's reality juggernaut TV show, "Jon and Kate Plus 8," has entered its fifth season with an ever-increasing audience, attracted to the couple's ever-growing made-for-tabloids life.
Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in to last Monday's episode to watch the obviously tense and noticeably distant pair try to get things back to normal after discussing their marriage woes,which include off-season allegations of adultry.
But life for Jon and Kate is anything but normal. The family can't seem to escape controversy with the latest blow coming from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. The department announced Friday they are investigating whether Jon and Kate Gosselin's hit show violates child-labor laws.
Labor Department spokesman Justin Fleming told The Associated Press that the department is looking into a complaint against the show. In a statement TLC, which airs "Jon & Kate Plus 8," said it "fully complies" with state laws and regulations.
In addition to attracting the attention of Pennsylvania authorities, the Gosselin clan has become a tabloid staple. In recent weeks Jon and Kate have appeared on countless supermarket glossy covers with some tidbit about their personal lives serving as headline fodder.
Whether it was issues of infidelity, an alleged secret marriage contract or their potential divorce, this ordinary family has faced extraordinary media attention. It's attention Jon and Kate have said they dislike.
"When people invite America into their personal life, what they may not be prepared for is that they will be judged," said psychologist Terry Real. "They've had a large following; [and a] sudden bump in interest...It's a spectacle... When you invite people into personal life, [you're] inviting people to judge."
Jon and Kate Gosselin aren't the first parents to have cameras follow their family.
In 1973 America's first reality family invited us into their home in PBS's "An American Family," which tackled tough topics. It had episodes dedicated to divorce and to a gay son.
The family was shocked by the attention it received.
"Do you like watching somebody else's home movies? We had no idea that anybody would be interested in this," said that show's matriarch, Pat Loud in a 2003 interview.
"In some ways it's tightened up the family," Zarin said. "I think it is a good thing on the show to see ourselves through other people's eyes because it makes me a better person. I think I will learn from it and change my behavior on some things."
Zarin's teenage daughter Allison is also in the show and the hit show profiles her struggles with weight.
Zarin said it was Allison's choice to be in the spotlight.
"Allison totally had the ability to veto and if Allison didn't want to do it, I wasn't going to do it. We all supported each other," she said.
But of course, the Gosselin's eight young children don't have the power to say no; and with Jon and Kate's marriage on the rocks, Zarin had advice for the fellow reality-television stars.
"If you really ask me my honest advice ... it would be to not do the show anymore," Zarin said. "If it stops working for you, don't do it anymore and I don't think it's working for her family."