Josh Duggar came out of hiding shortly before the Jill & Jessa: Counting On finale aired, and he quickly discovered that the general public isn’t as quick to forgive sexual molestation as his family members are. Unfortunately for the Duggar family, they don’t just have to worry about rehabbing Josh’s image now that he’s back home from a faith-based rehab center and ready to resume his life — the ratings for the finale of Jill & Jessa: Counting On dropped significantly, so the Duggars also have to worry about the future of their TLC reality series.
On April 29, Josh Duggar and his father, Jim Bob Duggar, were photographed together at the Old MacDonald’s Farm mini-golf course in Sevierville, Tennessee. In Touch Weekly published a picture of the pair posing in front of a sign that reads “Porky Butts,” and they both have smiles on their faces. However, other families weren’t smiling when they spotted Josh enjoying one of his first public outings in months.
— ExtraTV (@extratv) May 4, 2016
Two months ago, Josh Duggar returned home from a six-month stint at a Christian recovery center. As Hollywood Life reports, the former 19 Kids and Counting star enrolled in the treatment program after he confessed to cheating on his wife, and his family hoped that it would help him kick an alleged addiction to sex and pornography. However, families at the mini-golf course weren’t treating Josh Duggar like the plague because of these issues — they were likely more concerned about his confession that he sexually molested five young girls as a teenager. As The Inquisitr previously reported, four of Josh’s victims were his younger sisters, one of whom was five years old when she was molested.
“Three families with young girls were unhappy Josh was so close to them and left the golf course when they saw him and Jim Bob,” an eyewitness told In Touch.
“The parents were not comfortable. The staff tried to be as polite as possible to the angry parents, but it seemed there was little they could do to stop Josh from being a customer.”
Josh Duggar and his massive family were reportedly in Tennessee for a homeschool graduation party being thrown by the Bates family, stars of the UPtv series Bringing Up Bates. However, according to the Duggar Family News: Life Is Not All Pickles and Hairspray Facebook page, Josh did not attend the party with the rest of his family members. There’s no word on whether this was because the Bates family didn’t want Josh there.
The Duggars don’t just scare off mini-golf customers—they also make TLC viewers flee. According to Zap2it, the May 3 finale of Jill & Jessa: Counting On was down by around 200,000 viewers. As The Inquisitr previously reported, TLC desperately tried to get viewers to tune in to the finale by promising that they would get to witness a “life-changing” event like a courtship, pregnancy, or adoption announcement. However, nothing life-changing happened, and the recap-heavy episode was mostly composed of previously-aired footage of Jill Duggar’s courtship, engagement, wedding, and failed attempt at a home birth. TLC made sure Josh was not visible in any of the recycled footage from 19 Kids and Counting.
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 13, 2015
Fans who did tune in to the Jill & Jessa: Counting On finale complained about the lack of new content, which was also an issue with the April 26 episode.
“I will continue to record your show in support of your family, but much of the show was reruns of past episodes so I fast-forwarded through a lot of the show,” Phyllis Bacon wrote on the Duggar Family Official Facebook page.
“Out of the hour show it would be lucky if we had 15 mins of new footage,” Marcia Cloud complained.
Other fans said that they miss the 19 Kids and Counting format.
“I like the show but I miss the WHOLE family! That’s including Josh!” Brandy M Shepherd wrote.
According to the Wrap, 4.4 million viewers tuned in to watch Jill Duggar’s wedding special in 2014, but only 1.1 million viewed the Jill & Jessa: Counting On finale that featured reused footage from the special. The Counting On specials that aired last December premiered to 2.2 million, so viewership has been cut in half since the Duggars were first given a second chance to be reality show stars.
Do you think TLC will take a huge risk by filming a Josh Duggar redemption special in a last-ditch effort to get the Duggars’ old ratings back, opening the door for a potential 19 Kids and Counting revival? Or are the Duggars’ TV careers over now that the Jill & Jessa: Counting On finale has aired?
[Image via Josh Duggar/Twitter]