Joy-Anna Duggar is courting, and while most of us don’t find our teenage kids’ dating relationships worthy of a public announcement, the stars of Counting On, released a pair of short videos to tell the fans. Then, not many aspects of 19-year-old Joy’s relationship will be like what the general public sees as typical. Among other things, most teen relationships don’t result in public debate about whether there’s actually already an engagement that the family just isn’t yet making public, or whether the announcement was timed for ratings.
So, the facts: has Joy-Anna Duggar been secretly courting for a long period of time, and the relationship kept under wraps, either so the release could be timed as a promo for the third full season of Counting On (which premieres in January), to evade embarrassment (after a previous Duggar courtship failed quite publicly), or for Joy’s comfort?
Without a statement from Joy, there’s no certain answer, but we have a lot of hints in the public actions and announcements from the families and network. Here’s what we do know.
After the announcement of Joy’s courtship with Austin Forsyth, during the season finale of Counting On, fans and critics alike headed to the internet to find out more about Joy’s new beau. Many of them eventually landed on the page for Fort Rock Family Camp.
There, viewers learned that Austin’s parents are the founders of the camp, where Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have attended multiple retreats and even presented marital advice to couples. In fact, the landing page at the site features a photo of Austin with his parents, Terry and Roxanne, his sister Meagan and her husband Bobby Ballinger Jr. — and Joy Duggar.
Further, the image is labeled — “The Forsyth/Ballinger Family.”
That doesn’t seem to insinuate a short relationship, or one the families aren’t pretty confident in. Notably, the cover photo was updated sometime since August, at which point the photo still showed only Austin, his parents, and his sister, according to snapshots by the Internet Archive. The full import of this may take some understanding: Meagan’s marriage to a local politician last year didn’t net an update for the family photo, but Austin’s mere courtship to a Duggar earns her a place in the family portrait?
The Duggar family has been featured on the site, and the camp’s Facebook page, before, with Michelle Duggar supporting the Forsyths through a testimonial about For Rock Family Camp, and the camp in turn publicly thanking the Duggar kids for showing up to volunteer.
Though it’s clear there has been a long relationship between the families, it’s never before warranted adding a Duggar to the Forsyth family portrait!
Other clues to the length of Joy’s courtship: there appears to be fall color behind her in the announcement video, and Austin makes a reference to ‘August 2015’ as a time in the past. That doesn’t definitively place the start of the courtship in the past few months — there isn’t even a certainty that the video was filmed upon the courtship agreement, rather than a re-enactment — but it’s one strong hint.
Of course, Joy’s family and the network haven’t been truly hiding her courtship, so much as just not overtly announcing it — the first video about Joy-Anna’s possible courtship was months ago. In fact, before the second full season of Counting On began, several Duggar courtships had been dangled before viewers as current or imminent.
Is keeping the announcement back really about ratings, though?
Last year, right about the time that Josh Duggar’s police report was released and 19 Kids And Counting was pulled from the air, a similar announcement was made of a courtship for Josiah Duggar — a courtship which ultimately fell apart.
It could be that the family is being careful about making announcements now — waiting until the relationship is quite solid before releasing it to the public. Of course, Joy and Austin note in their video that they’ve known each other for nearly fifteen years, and have been good friends for a while, so they may have felt quite confident in the relationship immediately.
Perhaps Joy-Anna, who only turned 19 last month, might have wanted to wait to announce her courtship, simply for the sake of privacy.
Then there’s the second announcement, from Joy-Anna’s family. Only 24 seconds long, more than a fifth of the video is taken up with Jim Bob Duggar’s utterance of the single sentence,
So tune in to TLC for more about Joy and Austin.
According to Premiere Date, Joy-Anna Duggar’s courtship will be a primary feature in season 3 of Counting On.
[Featured Image by TLC/YouTube]