Jon and Kate Gosselin "looked miserable" in the fifth-season premiere of their TLC reality show Monday, said Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. After weeks of being hounded by the media over infidelity rumors, the couple faced further “grilling” by the Jon & Kate Plus 8 producers, who for the first time filmed them “in separate home-sofa sessions.” It will “be interesting to see” if the show can ever be what it was. (watch a clip from the season five premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8)

Probably not, said Alan Sepinwall in New Jersey’s The Star-Ledger, because Jon & Kate Plus 8 has an “agenda”—TLC “needs people to believe in the Gosselins as a functional, albeit bickering, couple for the show's cute, aspirational schtick to work.” It’s hard to imagine that anyone will care “how Kate gets the kids through a trip to the grocery store when the specter of divorce is hanging over everything.”

Jon & Kate Plus 8 has become “a very different TV-watching experience,” said Hank Stuever in The Washington Post. It is now “something Greek, something Shakespearean, something corrosive” that viewers love “to agonize and scream over.” It would be a mistake for the show’s producers to try “to stick to the original, cutesy story line.”