The Duggar family is back on the air in the new TLC special Jill & Jessa: Counting On, and while viewers got an intimate look at the Josh Duggar scandals, Jessa and Jill also revealed their new families. Duggar fans got a good look at baby Israel before the episode transitioned to a tearful discussion of the scandals that have rocked the family for the past year.
The first episode of the Jill & Jessa: Counting On starts with Jessa Duggar talking about her pregnancy, and Jill delves into moving from the United States to Central America for missionary work. Jill tells the camera that she always wonders “in the beginning of the year what the year will hold and it hasn’t been what we thought,” referring to the Josh Duggar scandals that have brought the family down, reports Entertainment Weekly.
Quickly, the episode moves to talk about Josh Duggar and how his scandals have affected the family. Interestingly enough, Jessa blames the media more than her brother for the molestation scandals. In the episode, Jessa reveals that there is “an expectation that this family doesn’t have any problems.”
As reality stars on the hit show 19 Kids & Counting, people started “digging up old bones,” breaking the story that Josh Duggar molested five girls when he was a teenager, including both Jill and Jessa. Seewald explained that the Duggar family had put the shocking incident behind them many years ago, and it “was so frustrating” to have the “old bones” brought up again, reports Entertainment Weekly.
Jill agreed with Jessa, explaining that as one of Josh Duggar’s victims she does not “want that rubbed in your face all the time, for everyone else to see.” Blaming “whoever released that,” Jill confessed that being “thrown under the bus was really really hard.”
“We had moved on from there,” Jill said.
Believing those were the darkest days of their lives, Jessa explained that there “was a period of time in our family where Josh was not to be trusted,” indicating the Duggar family thought her brother would hurt more people.
The Duggar family sought counseling, and the “relationship was restored between all of us siblings and our parents,” Jessa confessed, according to Entertainment Weekly.
But the darkest days aren’t behind the Duggar family, Jill & Jessa: Counting On reveals. One of the most shocking parts of the episodes was the revelation that if Jessa knew Josh was living a secret life of pornography and infidelity, she might not have supported him through the molestation scandal.
“Knowing now what Joshua was hiding,” Jessa began, “it wasn’t right for him to let us speak our words without having the full knowledge of what he was hiding.”
When the news broke that Josh Duggar had two accounts with the infidelity website Ashley Madison and he cheated on his wife Anna several times, he damaged his relationship with Jessa.
In the episode, Jessa reveals that “[o]ver the years Josh had worked really hard to repair our trust in him,” and when the rest of the family learned he was leading a secret life, they were “devastated,” reports Entertainment Weekly.
There were lighter parts of the first episode in Jill & Jessa: Counting On, however. During the episode, Jessa closely guards the gender of baby Spurgeon and excitedly prepares for his arrival. Jessa’s first wedding anniversary was November 1, 2015, and she and husband Ben are “still in the honeymoon phase,” Seewald explains.
While the Josh Duggar scandals might have torn them apart, Ben confesses that the dark year “helped me and Jessa’s marriage get stronger.”
The new parents-to-be also got some advice from their siblings, Jill and Derrick Dillard. Derrick told Ben that he should use the baby during workouts, and viewers were treated to shots of baby Israel. Using the baby for workouts is “mutually beneficial,” Derick advised as he lifts Israel up and down, reports Entertainment Weekly. “You get your workout in. It’s good reps.”
Jill & Jessa: Counting On follows the two Duggar sisters as they transition towards parenthood and new jobs. The series next airs December 20 at 8 p.m. on TLC.
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