Jill and Jessa: Counting On has returned the Duggar family to TLC, and it’s clear that the public opinion is divided. There is a lot of praise for the family on social media, but there are also a lot of people calling for an end to Duggar fame.
Those saying that Counting On episodes should never have aired say that the show is exploiting Josh Duggar’s crimes, Anna’s suffering, and, of course, the children. Members of the public have called the family liars for their cover-up of the incidents, and said that their child-rearing style is abusive. The family has been called out for victim-blaming and gay-bashing.
With Jill and Jessa: Counting On airing, and the first episode appearing to focus less on the two sisters moving on with their lives, and more on the series of scandals itself, criticism has only grown.
It’s becoming clear, though, that for some members of the family, the criticism is starting to be painful.
Perhaps Derrick Dillard gets the credit for being the first to decide that television fame and family life needed some barrier between — he did so long before the first special aired. That is, he responded to the negative response on social media by making his Instagram account private.
According to Yahoo, this took place in mid-October, after the Duggar husband was called out for a photo in which he referred to “babysitting” his son. Of course, it also happened to be a time of negative attention for Derrick and Jill for other reasons — this was the same time that the couple offered to refund donations to their ministry, as supporters complained about the amount of time the couple was spending in the U.S. and began to accuse them of fraud.
More recently, Jill Dillard has been posting on social media, using Bible verses to scold followers for negative comments.
Sharing a verse referring to ‘corrupting talk’ and ‘only that which is good for building up,’ Jill commented,
Don’t just let words come out of your mouth when they aren’t edifying…they can’t be taken back!
This immediately followed a post in which Jill’s followers commented to call Derrick weird-looking, declare the family ignorant, call the ministry a fake, and generally deride the Duggars for continuing to seek fame and publicity.
As the first episode of Jill and Jessa: Counting On aired, Jessa used her social media, too, to respond to public opinions in which the family has been referred to as proud or smug. She popped in with a meme quoting a 17th century minister, and declaring that those who know God must be humble.
Meanwhile, Josh (who, granted, may not have internet access at the moment) and Anna have completely given up social media — their last posts were in August. Their website has also gone silent, with photos moved from the site and the “family updates” section turned into an index page, only linking to other parts of the site and bearing no information of its own.
The Duggar family member to speak out most explicitly about the effects of the negative public attention, though, is one who isn’t even appearing on Jill and Jessa: Counting On. Jim Bob’s neice, Amy King, recently blogged about cyber bullying.
As a part of her post, she opens up about negative comments she recieved back when she was appearing on episodes of 19 Kids and Counting.
“…calling me fat, fake, ugly, or an attention whore.”
She goes on to say that, before logging on to social media, she prays for strength to not be hurt by the negative comments she knows she’ll see, and to give her strength not respond harshly.
It took me awhile to realize that when someone says something hurtful to me I have a decision to make. I could cuss them out and show them a thing or two, or I can respond in a loving way. I try my absolute hardest to refrain from firing back and it takes everything in me to turn the other cheek.
She also says that at some point, she ma just decide to really tell the ‘haters’ how she feels:
… my human nature wants to throw a middle finger up in the air. and just tell so many people off. One day I just might do it!
Of course, as Amy states in her post, appearing on a reality show is bound to draw some attention, both positive and negative. For Jill, Jessa, and their parents and siblings, though, much of the negative attention isn’t about reality tv, but about their political activity and the cover-up of Josh’s crimes.
Still, it’s clear that the backlash, which has grown with the airing of Jill and Jessa: Counting On, is starting to really get to some Duggar family members, which may not bode well for the idea of a full new series.
[Image via TLC]