Now that the Duggars’ return to TLC appears to be a sure thing, it seems more certain than ever that the network never intended to drop the hit reality show for good — and that the family knew it. The evidence has been available all along, and the latest developments merely appear to confirm it.
Back in July, 2015, when the first revelations about Josh Duggar were still fresh on the public ear, Inquisitr noted that TLC was keeping ties with the family tight. Despite pulling the show off the air, the network wasn’t officially canceling it, and wasn’t making any efforts to set the family aside. At the time, TLC’s website still featured clips from 19 Kids And Counting episodes — and six months later, it still does.
Is it just that TLC doesn’t like to remove content from their site? Well, they no longer host a page with similar for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, removed from the network for similar reasons, so that seems unlikely.
Instead, it seems as though TLC was preparing for the return of the Duggars from the early days of the scandals.
However, TMZ reports that the network took quite a financial hit with that cancellation — especially since episodes they’d already filmed were essentially canned.
In the case of the Duggars, TLC seems to have decided to avoid that type of loss, continuing to film even during the show’s “cancellation.” Much of this footage later surfaced, of course, in the three-episode special event, Jill and Jessa: Counting On.
By the way, the Duggars seem to have been aware that they’d return to TLC — despite months off the air, Jill’s social media profiles still mention the network and 19 Kids And Counting.
Here‘s her Twitter bio:
And her Instagram bio:
Despite all that time off the air, and her purported career change from reality star to missionary, Jill still describes herself in terms of 19 Kids And Counting — not as a world traveler or missionary.
Earlier this year, TLC general manager Nancy Daniels was questioned about the Duggars, and openly admitted, according to Variety, that the network was considering the family’s return.
What she didn’t mention was that filming still hadn’t stopped. However, after numerous people reported spotting Duggars in public with film crews, The Hollywood Gossip was able to confirm, both with people who appeared in the footage (specifically, a lumberyard owner, where Jana and some of the younger Duggars purchased treehouse materials with a camera looking on) and with unnamed sources inside TLC, that filming is absolutely ongoing.
In fact, the anonymous TLC sources were even willing to discuss content: they say Jana’s love life will be featured. Before the show went on hiatus, new episodes featuring Josiah’s courtship were expected, but that has since broken off — and in the aftermath, his ex says she’s writing a book about love. It’s likely those episodes are scrapped for good — but courtships, weddings, pregnancies, and babies are key features of the Duggars’ reality television fame, and a courtship for Jana would likely draw in viewers, who’ve been calling her “Cinderella Duggar” for years, as she stuck close to home and cared for the younger Duggars.
Aside from TLC’s continued close involvement with the family, and the filming that has gone on even as the network has claimed to be uncertain about the Duggars’ return, there has also been an ongoing effort to repair the damage to the family’s public image.
With their show off the air, and exhortations about focusing on each other and healing, one might expect the Duggars to take social media profiles private. In fact, most of their profiles did go quiet for a period of time, and Derrick actually did make his Instagram private briefly, but for the most part, the family has continued to use the internet to keep fans close and interested.
They’ve worked to restore their public image — not just online, but through TLC’s special on sexual abuse, and the three Counting On episodes — with tales of missions trips, heart-rending clips, and statements about their feelings after learning of Josh’s repeated wrongdoings, Bible verses (often centering on forgiveness and grace), and, of course, new babies.
Announcing the arrival of Meredith Grace Duggar! 7lbs 14 ozs, 20-1/2in — Anna and Meredith are resting & doing well! pic.twitter.com/HfnuoZcSN7
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) July 19, 2015
Since the end of Counting On, Discovery Networks (the owner of TLC) has announced that episodes are available on their Discovery Go app — making it possible to track whether interest in the Duggars has waned since the short series aired.
With such carefully orchestrated management of the family’s public image, ongoing filming throughout the show’s purported cancellation, and the tight ties between network and Duggars that were never even loosened, much less severed, all signs point to the Duggars return to TLC being the intended path from the start — and no secret to anyone involved.
[Image via Duggar Family Official Facebook]