For the record, we’re not rooting against Kate Gosselin. While her grating, never-ending TV presence surely annoys, it’s not like we want to see her fall down during a dance, or collapse onstage in a heap of hysterics, yelling, “Why, God, why did you make me go on this show?” (It is remarkable how she seems to feel like she’s being forced to appear on DWTS, “in order to provide for my kids,” when it is, of course, entirely optional. Even if she can’t get a “normal job” because of all her notoriety, she could easily become the spokesperson for any of the number of baby-care companies that helped sponsor Jon and Kate Plus 8. That’s a job that entails very little kicking, twirling, and being publicly judged by a panel of aghast dancing experts.)
Last night, Gosselin scored the most incremental triumph in the history of Dancing With the Stars (and possibly in the history of triumphs), and we were happy for her success, no matter how minor its grade. Because people have a right to try to metaphorically “beat” their no-good, Ed Hardy–wearing husbands by way of a tango on national TV, don’t they? They do.
Kate started out as her usual woe-is-me self — “I wake up every day and check the news to see what hell I’m going to go through … this is custody stuff playing out in public.” Please! Don’t dwell on the irony of her saying this on a hit reality show, we have personal hurdles to clear! Then Tony gave her the pep talk of a lifetime: “If you fail this week, he [the not-to-be-named Jon] wins, does that make sense to you? Will you let that happen?” Cue Rocky-like montage of her standing up tall and mastering the art of the dance! Actually, cue more whining: “I don’t believe in myself,” Kate cried, and yet managed to make it through a stiff, slightly-better-than-last-week’s-atrocity performance. And the pleasantly surprised judges deemed it a big improvement, although still not technically dancing. “We’re having a mini breakthrough!” said Bruno. “At moments I actually believed you were dancing! … Don’t get too excited; the technique was still very, very bad.” But nevertheless, it was enough to make Kate grin with satisfaction in a job comparatively well done, and viewers were left momentarily uplifted as long as they didn’t dwell on the very small scale of improvement they’d just witnessed. But in reality TV, the size of the step forward doesn’t matter, as long as all the signposts of self-actualization are there.