It was the perfect formula for reality TV: a rocky marriage, narcissist parents and fertility treatments gone wrong.
But after six years of exposing her eight children (twins and sextuplets) to public scrutiny, Kate Gosselin has watched the reality show formerly known as Jon & Kate Plus 8 blow up in her face.
TLC has announced it will cancel the show's latest incarnation, Kate Plus 8, at the end of this season, the Washington Post reports.
The season finale with mark the show's 150th TV episode (including Jon & Kate Plus 8) – "an exceptional milestone," according to a statement from TLC, which promises loyal viewers a "check-in with Kate and the family" in future specials.
Back in the glory days, when Jon and Kate were gearing up for an ugly divorce, viewership for their reality show hit 10 million – higher than trash hit Jersey Shore has ever reached, notes Entertainment Weekly. (Chalk it up to schadenfreude.)
But in recent weeks, ratings for the new show dipped below 1 million viewers, proving that no one wants to watch a single mom juggling rug rats without a hair out of place.
The Gosselins's fame peaked in tandem with the media frenzy around Nadya "Octomom" Suleman, who in 2009 added octuplets to her family of six kids conceived through IVF.
Compared with Ms. Gosselin, it didn't take Octomom long to become a "has been." Earlier this year, she reportedly told In Touch magazine: "I'm disgusted by babies."
Judging by ratings, fickle viewers might be thinking the same thing about parents who'll go to any lengths to build Franken-families.
Nevertheless, TLC continues to bank on hopes that public fascination with multiples hasn't waned entirely. Quints By Surprise premiered last year and returned in April to celebrate the quints' 2nd birthday.
Reactions to Quints in parenting forums have been mixed.
"I hate that every one of these 'litter' carrying moms always seem to get tummy tucks, even in dire financial times," wrote Silly Lil Pixie at BabyCenter.com.
But Ethan Jones, the quints' father, defended his decision to have a reality show in a scripture-quoting riposte to the "cynics, the holier-than-thous, the judgmentals, the moralists, and the pessimists."
Meanwhile, Ms. Gosselin has met the news of her show's cancellation with a series of gushing posts on Twitter, reports Radar Online: "I can't wait2have the chance2challenge myself again w future endeavors!… And maybe even some dating??!!"
Let's hope the cameras aren't rolling for that.
Have multiples run their course on reality TV? Is there ever a good reason to cash in on growing kids?