Five Families Who Are All Too Familiar, Thanks to TV

The Gosselins aren't the first gang American audiences can't get enough of.

May 29, 2009, 3:52 PM

May 30, 2009 — -- The premiere episode of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" drew a record audience for the network, with 9.8 million viewers on Monday. But is the high price of reality TV success worth it? Kate and Jon Gosselin, whose show revolves around their lives with sextuplets and twins, have dominated tabloid headlines for weeks because of accusations of infidelity.

The Gosselins aren't the first reality TV family to run into troubles on or off camera. USA TODAY examines those hit by the reality TV curse.

Show: "Jon & Kate Plus 8," TLC (Monday, 9 ET/PT)

The clan: Dad Jon, 32, mom Kate, 34, 8-year-old twins Maddie and Cara, 5-year-old sextuplets Leah, Hannah, Alexis, Aaden, Joel and Collin

The plot: The show revolves around the lives of Jon, a network engineer, and Kate, a former nurse, and their family of multiples. His laid-back approach to caring for the children often conflicts with her more assertive/aggressive personality.

Show: Hogan Knows Best, VH1

The clan: Dad Hulk, 55, mom Linda, 49, daughter Brooke, 21, and son Nick, 18

The plot: The series, on from 2005 to 2007, focused on daughter Brooke's budding music career, son Nick's growing interest in car racing and the relationship between Hulk and Linda.

Dramatic turn: On Aug. 26, 2007, Nick was the driver when his car crashed into a palm tree in St. Petersburg, Fla. He survived, but his pal John Graziano was critically injured. Nick was sentenced to eight months in prison for causing a serious car crash. He served 166 days. Just three months after Nick's crash, Linda took Hulk by surprise and filed for divorce. (The couple wed in 1983.) More recently, Hulk has drawn attention for dating a younger Linda look-alike, and his ex gets her share of headlines for dating a much younger man, who is her daughter's pal.

Show: Meet the Barkers, MTV

The clan: Dad Travis Barker, 33, mom Shanna Moakler, 34, her daughter Atiana De La Hoya, 10, their son Landon, 5. Daughter Alabama Barker, 3, was born during filming.

The plot: The short-lived series ran 2005-2006 and followed the Blink-182 drummer and his former Miss USA and Playboy Playmate wife as they managed their careers and family life.

Dramatic turn: Their reality show started just a year after the couple married and included their Gothic, Halloween-eve wedding. By August 2006, Barker filed for divorce. After Barker was spotted getting cozy with Paris Hilton and Moakler did a turn on Dancing With the Stars, the two reunited in March 2007. They split again that summer. But in the fall, they celebrated their wedding anniversary with a weekend getaway. In September 2008, they reunited when she visited him in the hospital after he was burned in a plane crash.

Show: Dog the Bounty Hunter, A&E (Wednesday, 9 ET/PT)

The clan: Season 6 of the cable show begins this week. The series focuses on Duane (Dog), 56, wife Beth, 41, his sons Leland, 32, and Duane Lee, 36, and his daughter Lyssa, 21

The plot: Since it first aired in 2004, the show has focused on Dog's family bail-bond business. His outfit, which captures wanted fugitives, is based in Hawaii but also works cases in the mainland.

Dramatic turn: The fate of the A&E series was in doubt after a recording of a profanity-laced racist rant by Dog surfaced on the Internet in October 2007. Chapman apologized, but A&E suspended production of his show. To add to the Chapmans' woes, an ongoing legal case in Mexico could have potentially landed Dog in jail. Even though bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, the Chapmans captured Max Factor heir Andrew Luster there in 2003. However, in January 2008, the case against the bounty hunters was dropped.

Show: An American Family, PBS

The clan: Dad Bill, 88, mom Patricia, 82, sons Lance, deceased, Kevin, 56, and Grant, 55, and daughters Delilah, 53, and Michelle, 51

The plot: This 1973 series might be called the granddaddy of the modern-day reality TV show. The weekly documentary followed the suburban Loud family. In 1983, HBO broadcast a follow-up, which examined the family's reaction to instant celebrity resulting from the PBS series. It was called An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later. And then in 2003, filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond returned to TV with a third follow-up for PBS. It was called Lance Loud!: A Death in an American Family.

Dramatic turn: During the original run of the series, episodes featured real-life drama, including Patricia's demand for a divorce and the coming-out of son Lance. The most recent PBS follow-up documented his life until he died of AIDS and hepatitis C in 2001.