By Margaret Lyons
Updated July 31, 2009 at 04:03 PM EDT

Jon and Kate Plus Eight returns from hiatus next week — gee, it hardly feels like it’s been gone! — and TLC’s president promised TV critics that the network “will continue to capture this family’s journey in a sincere and sensitive way.” Which is not particularly how I’d describe the show in the past, but let’s go with it. “As far as new people and places that may be cycling into Jon and Kate’s lives, we’re taking it on a case-by-case basis.” Also, no more couch.J&K+8 is in a weird, Hills-style media moment right now: Viewers are tuning as a supplement to their knowledge of these people. We’re almost more interested in how the show will cover (or not) certain events rather than seeing those events transpire. Will Jon go on a date? Will Kate spank one of the kids? We already know both of those things happened — what we don’t know is if TLC will show it.

A lot of us are going into Jon and Kate fatigue, and I wonder how sustainable that just-to-see-if-they-show-it kind of viewing is. That said, I’m curious how the show will play now that Jon has so mightily destroyed every shred of sympathy anyone ever had for him. I used to feel bad watching him get berated on the Couch Of Our Discontent. Now I think someone needs to put him in his place — or at least out of those wretched Ed Hardy clothes.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you still be watching Jon and Kate? How do you want to see the family depicted, given what we know from non-show outlets?