Since the release of Josh Duggar’s decade-old police report detailing complaints that he molested multiple underage girls, including several of his sisters, there has been a general assurance that the eldest son of the reality TV family won’t be returning to television. TLC has reinforced this, promising that the family’s new reality show would center around the other adult Duggar siblings, leaving Josh out. Lately, though, there are indications that have viewers wondering if the scandal-chased young man who once made his living preaching family values will soon return fully to the spotlight.
The primary reason for speculation is, of course, persistent rumors from unnamed sources who are said to be close to either the Duggar family or the show.
Then there’s the fact that TLC seems to be intent on keeping Josh Duggar’s own family unit — his wife and kids, that is — near the cameras. Anna Duggar was, for instance, part of this June video clip used to offer viewers a teaser about which courtship may be coming up next, after Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo’s storyline ceases to be central.
That’s not all, though. Aside from being caught in the occasional public appearance, Josh seems to be slipping closer to the family’s social media (despite reportedly being cut off from his own, and in fact having at least one social media account disappear entirely in recent weeks). Though Counting On has its own Facebook page, the Duggar Family Official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are inextricably intertwined with the family’s reality TV brand and regularly used to promote the show.
— The Duggar Family (@duggarfam) August 30, 2016
Incidentally, it was a recent post on these social media accounts, one of the many showing Anna Duggar drawn into the fold with her sisters-in-law, that may have set in motion the latest round of attempts to draw Josh back near the cameras. Specifically, the photo showed Anna along with two of Josh Duggar’s sisters, Jill and Jinger, as well as Josh and Anna’s youngest child, Meredith, and Jill’s son Israel, shopping together.
— The Duggar Family (@duggarfam) September 17, 2016
Followers of the reality TV stars were quick to express shock at Anna Duggar’s appearance, with many believing they saw telltale signs of domestic violence on her face. Others suggested she just looked overtired or generally unwell, or that the darkness on her face could be signs of a simple cold. From the single image, it’s not really possible to declare for certain that Josh’s wife is sporting a bruise — or if it’s a matter of lighting and shadow.
Still, the Duggar family responded by offering another post, one that seemed formulated to reassure viewers that all was right in Josh and Anna’s relationship. Wishing the pair a happy anniversary, the Duggar family celebrated “God’s redemptive love” in the marriage.
It’s a big leap to featuring the couple on the family’s official social media pages, when only 1o weeks ago, Jim Bob Duggar conspicuously left Josh’s name out when listing his children!
Not all viewers were ready to forgive and forget, though, and if the family hoped this was the first step to making Josh into the storied Prodigal Son, it was less than totally successful. Some sample comments follow:
“Josh Duggar is an awful man not only to his partner but to his siblings. He shouldn’t be put on here as though everything is all right.”
“This woman didn’t leave the marriage for one simple reason, she is stuck. She was not able to get an education and have her own career. She is dependent on this man for herself and her children. I feel so sad for her.”
“Love is great, but get tested for STDs anyway, you can’t pray away pedophilia.”
Several commenters urged Anna to either leave Josh or be especially vigilant over their children. (Josh’s eldest daughter is now older than his youngest alleged victim was, as described in the 2006 police report.)
How did the Duggar family respond to the outpouring of concern for Josh’s children? With more social media shares, this time of Josh and Anna’s youngest two children. (Josh’s oldest two children, a little girl who turns seven this month and a son who just turned five, weren’t included.)
The two photos serve as a message to the social media following that the kids — and presumably Josh and Anna — are spending plenty of time with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and at the Duggar family home which also serves as the primary stage for the television series. There have been no direct statements about Josh’s proximity to his victims, the other kids who are still underage, or the television cameras, but the spate of postings may hint that efforts to keep Josh away from center stage are dissipating.
TLC assured People Magazine in July that Josh Duggar would not be shown on the current season of Counting On — that is, the second full season, which premiered in August, but the statement doesn’t seem to address anything further into the future.
[Featured Images by Duggar Family Official/Facebook]