TLC may have pulled 19 Kids And Counting off the air, but the network is still keeping the Duggar family close. They still haven’t ruled out a spinoff, they’re still featuring the family on their website alongside shows that are still airing, and they’re actually using Jill and Jessa in the upcoming special about child sex abuse. If the show is really cancelled, why is TLC holding on so tight? What are their future plans for the Duggar family?
A full day after the cancellation announcement, TLC’s website still features Duggar interviews, clips about Josiah’s courtship, and full episodes.
That’s not all. TLC has promised a special documentary later this summer, focusing on child sex abuse and the damage it causes. The network has been working with two victims’ advocacy groups: RAINN and Darkness to Light. However, the documentary will also include victims — including two of Josh Duggar’s victims.
“TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.”
The two married Duggar daughters have already spoken about their role in Josh’s crimes — insisting that the family has been victimized, not by the actual sexual abuse, but by the revelation. In an interview with Megyn Kelly, the two minimized the abuse, insisted that they weren’t harmed, and reassured the audience that the whole Duggar family had forgiven Josh and that forgiveness should be the end.
Now the two will appear in TLC’s special, but in what capacity? Is Jill to come back from her missions trip to give new testimony? Will TLC recycle clips from the Duggar family interviews with Megyn Kelly and allow sexual abuse experts to point out the behaviors so common to victims (denying, minimizing, insisting that the abuser is a great guy), or will this be another opportunity for Josh’s family to come to his defense?
TLC isn’t saying, but on RAINN’s Facebook page, followers, fans, and survivors of sexual abuse are begging the experts to address these issue — or leave the Duggar family out entirely.
“Please do not use any of the Duggar family for your special on child sexual abuse. Their views on this subject are well known and totally contradict the information on your website.”
“Please make sure the Duggars do not continue to minimize sexual abuse and blame everyone but Josh, Jim Bob and Michelle.”
Others ask for other Duggar family issues — like rules about forgiveness, as well as misogyny and blanket training — to be brought up. In their book, Growing Up Duggar, the oldest four Duggar girls talk about forgiveness. Most people think of forgiveness as a decision. The young women make it clear that in the Duggar family, it is an obligation — not only to the transgressor, but to God and self. A person who fails to forgive is committing a sin, and forgiveness must be given freely and promptly.
This doesn’t exactly give much weight to the assurances Josh Duggar was forgiven — or to TLC’s decision to keep the Duggar girls on the air for yet another special.
It’s not just the child sex abuse case, either — the Duggar family has been the subject of FCC complaints for their endorsement of beliefs that subjugate and diminish women.
Moreover, according to CNN Money, a TLC spokesperson explicitly stated that the network is not ruling out a Duggar family spinoff series with some of the children.
TLC may have cancelled 19 Kids And Counting, but they’ve made it clear that they’re not yet done with the Duggar family — and the family’s time in the spotlight is not yet at an end.
[Photo via Getty Images; Screenshot via TLC]