Nadya Needs Help or Reality TV to the Rescue!

Amie Newman

Perhaps it's not that surprising that Nadya Suleman's life as a mother to fourteen children, including her now famous octuplets, will soon become fodder for American television viewers. In a strange way, it may be the most supportive opportunity available to her at the moment. 

Perhaps it’s not that surprising that Nadya Suleman’s life as a mother to fourteen children, including her now famous octuplets, will soon become fodder for American television viewers in the form of a reality television program. In a strange way, it may be the most supportive opportunity available to her at the moment. 

While others are crying fowl at her "hypocrisy" (she told Dr. Phil that she would never exploit her children on television) I would say that the media meta-principals at work here are even more hypocritical. Is the fact that the media is constantly examing Suleman and her life – no matter whether through a reality television show or an online magazine – any less invasive? What about a television show hosted by a pseudo-psychologist doling out advice in front of millions as he exploits his "guests"’ lives and challenges for good television and advertising revenue – is this less "exploitative" than Suleman deciding to have her own reality television show, possibly in order to deal with her current situation? 

At least now Nadya Suleman and her children will likely receive the financial support they need to take care of their basic needs, and if she is a relatively sane and responsible mother, she’ll have the chance to "set the story straight" of her own accord. She’s been used by the media that has thrived on sensationalizing her story (though, admittedly, this story doesn’t need much padding for it to be sensational), only too thrilled to seize an opportunity for juicy television; and she’s been gossiped about, criticized, poked and prodded by the public freely sharing our judgments and opinions on what we think she should or shouldn’t have done. 

But where is the real support for Nadya Suleman and her family? Did our medical, social services and health systems betray her from the beginning? And what does she and her children need now in order to live optimally? It may be that a reality television show – as exploitative, superficial and exposing as it is – is the easiest road to a better life available to the family at this point. And that says more about the values and priorities of our society than anything. 

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