Kate Gosselin was once the most famous mum on TV. Now her son won’t talk to her.

In 2007 TLC released a new reality TV show called Jon & Kate Plus 8 about an American family. It was centred around their day-to-day life with a set of twins and a set of sextuplets.

They became an overnight sensation with their faces instantly recognisable across the world. Jon & Kate Plus 8 was a ratings juggernaut and sponsorship deals rolled this family all the way to the bank.

In the early 2000s the matriarch of the family Kate Gosselin was the most famous mum on TV. You could tell from the outset she was the main driver of propelling their family into fame and to the average viewer all they could see was a happy-go-lucky family unit.

Now, 16 years later we’re starting to learn that behind the picture perfect home, there was something much darker going on.

Who are Jon and Kate Gosselin?

Image: Getty


Jon and Kate were fresh out of high school when they met at a social function in Pennsylvania in 1997. They quickly coupled up, got married and had their first children, a set of twins named Cara and Madelyn. Around four years later they decided to try for a third child and ended up welcoming sextuplets, Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah and Leah.

After a local news station picked up their story for a lifestyle segment, TLC quickly came knocking on their door to produce a reality TV show. After the success of 17 Kids and Counting, television executives were keen to jump on the trend of documenting the lives of families with multiple children. 

The show was an immediate success and portrayed the chaotic lives of the Gosselin’s trying to navigate each day with eight children. At the time of the show’s premiere the sextuplents were just shy of three-years-old.

Why did Jon & Kate Plus 8 end?

As we reflect on the mega-popular lifestyle reality shows of the early 2000s, we can now see a bigger picture and it’s not as perfect as was depicted on our screens. 

In a 2009 episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8 it was announced that Jon and his wife Kate were separating. Later that month police were called to the family home to break up a heated verbal argument between the estranged couple. As a result of the domestic turmoil TLC changed the name of the show to Kate Plus 8 with Jon stepping aside from the series. 

Amidst a messy divorce that involved public outbursts and a nasty back and forth, Jon and Kate eventually finalised their divorce at the end of 2009. As the cracks in the once ‘perfect’ family unit started to show, TLC announced that the show would be ending.


What is the controversy surrounding Collin Gosselin?

Divorce is never easy for kids but when you’re in the public eye, those feelings play out on an even bigger stage. While the breakdown of Jon and Kate’s relationship soured even further, their children became caught up in the fracas. In particular two of the sextuplets, Collin and Hannah, have been at the centre of custody disputes with the pair ultimately going to live with their father.

In 2016 Kate announced she had sent her then 12-year-old son to a treatment facility to help manage his “special needs”. In an interview with People she said: “[There’s] a fairly fluid diagnosis of what those needs are, but he needs to learn certain strategies to help him deal with things. This has been a struggle we’ve had for a very long time, and it’s one I’ve dealt with on my own. I’ve felt very alone in this. By the same token, it’s not something that has only impacted me or him – our entire family has been impacted.”

In 2017 it was reported that Jon removed Collin from the facility after he begged his father to get him out of there. 

In a documentary released by Vice TV called the Dark Side Of The 2000s both Collin and Hannah came forward to lift the veil on what was really going on inside the family unit throughout those difficult years. Collin maintains that he was treated unfairly and as a result has suffered mental health issues from being sent away to a facility.

"I'm not going to say I was a perfect child. But I'd say my misbehaving was no different than from my siblings," he said.


When speaking about his time in the treatment facility Collin said things started to fall apart.

“It was a really, really dark place. All I had was myself. I didn’t have anybody else. You know, I had no support system. It was scary. I was confused. I was lost,” he said. 

In response to Collin’s side of the story, Kate told People in July 2023 she maintains she did the right thing at the time.

"I have never wanted to have to do this, but I feel I have been backed into a corner and left with no choice,” she said. “Although it saddens me to do so, I need to speak out now. My son Collin, whom I love with all my heart, has received multiple psychiatric diagnoses over the years. For the safety of myself, his brothers and sisters and for his own well-being, he was placed in a facility following years of outpatient treatment which proved insufficient for his needs."

Despite her insistence, Collin’s sister Hannah has regularly stood up for her brother and doubles down on his experience.

“I don’t think effort was made to help him learn what behaviour is acceptable and what behaviour is not acceptable,” she said to Vice.

Where are the Gosselins now?


What was once the glowing depiction of a modern American family, has now turned into a sad story with incredibly fractious relationships. 

As it stands Collin, 19, has no communication with his mother, while his sister, Hannah, 19, says she has a “pretty stable” relationship with Kate.

As for the other sextuplets, Alexis, Joel, Leah, and Aaden, and the twins Mady and Cara, they are all estranged from their father, Jon and their two siblings, Hannah and Collin.

"I have no access to the kids I'm estranged from. I have no idea why they stopped coming. I have no answers. Like, none. It's the worst,” Jon said to Vice. "I'd rather it be like, 'You're an asshole,' or, 'I hate you, and you did this to mom,' or something. I have nothing. It's like I have no closure."

It seems like the pain in this family runs deep, stemming all the way back to the days when they were first blasted into fame. We hope that in time they can heal privately and once and for all step away from the spotlight while finding a path back to being a family.

Feature Image: Getty

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