You may have heard rumors that the Duggar family is getting a new reality show — one that focuses on counseling victims of sexual abuse. At this point, the show truly is little more than rumor — speculation and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of Jim Bob Duggar.
According to Classicalite, the story comes from a TLC ‘insider’ who says it’s an idea Jim Bob and Michelle are pitching — not something the network has planned, suggested, or has in the works. The full story is less about the Duggar family getting a new show than about Jim Bob and Michelle continuing to hold out hope for one.
That said, could it happen?
After all, a television show being pitched to a network and actually picked up, isn’t exactly unheard of, especially if the folks doing the pitching have shown their ability to draw an audience. It’s also quite clear that, if the message from viewers to TLC is “no more Duggars,” TLC hasn’t gotten it. Not only did they take their sweet time in canceling 19 Kids And Counting, but even then, the network was in no rush to remove the Duggar family from their programming website — keeping wedding videos /and other links and information up well after the show came down, and spin-off rumors still haven’t ceased.
So, if the question is whether TLC would take another chance on the Duggars, the answer is — actually, the answer is that they already are. The network is including Jill and Jessa in its upcoming special on sexual abuse — despite viewers pleading with the two victim advocate groups involved not to be a part of anything that gives this family more attention. (You can see numerous examples of such pleas on RAINN’s Facebook page, and Time carried a longer-form article clearly explaining why many other victims of similar abuse don’t want the Duggar family involved in this.) Despite the opposition from the public, TLC is not only going forward with the special, but proudly advertising the inclusion of Jill and Jessa.
However, this special is different from 19 Kids And Counting in a key way — key to the folks who count up the bottom line, that is. That difference is the lack of commercials. This special isn’t intended to produce ad revenue. Depending on your view of television network executives, you could consider it an honest charitable outreach or an attempt to get back in good graces, but whatever it is, it’s not direct profit.
Regularly scheduled shows, though, are. A show like Jim Bob Duggar is pitching would depend on commercials to pay its way — and the advertisers have already made it clear they won’t be supporting the Duggar family in any further endeavors.
Furthermore, in the event that the family, or part of it, does land a new show, counseling victims doesn’t seem a likely avenue — the list of possible liability issues is through the roof. Jim Bob may not have pictured an accused abuser getting past his charges and then suing TLC with the claim that the allegations are false and that the publicity has ruined his life, but it’s a safe bet the legal teams pictured it. They’ve likely also considered the other ways this could go wrong — a victim landing in the hospital after an incident of self-harm and suing for inadequate or incompetent counseling, a victim being found by her abuser thanks to the publicity, and any number of other things that would endanger humans as well as TLC’s bottom line. That’s without even touching the likelihood that victims struggling through their problems might not exactly consider televised counseling conducive to healing and privacy.
It’s clear the Duggar family still has a small (relatively speaking), but devoted following, that would happily return to watching any new show they were granted, but the truth is, unless advertisers get on board, it’s highly unlikely Jim Bob, Michelle, and their offspring will see a return to their old fame — and even more unlikely that such a return would involve publicly counseling victims of abuse.
[Image via: TLC Screengrab]