Josh Duggar was never supposed to be shown on the family's reality show, Counting On. At least, that's what viewers thought TLC had promised. Images picked from the latest Duggar wedding special, though, are calling this into question.
Did TLC actually vow to never include Josh in the show, or was there a somewhat more vague promise that was misunderstood? Is it fair to expect Josh, who has completed a rehab program and is reportedly repairing his familial relationships, to stay away from, or out of sight during, his sister's wedding? Can we be sure it was even him?
Here's what we know.
On Sunday, three weeks after Jinger Duggar wed Jeremy Vuolo, the Pickles and Hairspray Facebook page, which has followed the Duggar family through scandal and triumph alike, posted an episode recap covering the wedding special.
It included a small image from the wedding and this description.
And Josh hides behind Marcus. Seriously, Marcus is standing on Josh's lap at one point to completely block him from being seen on camera. What a life that guy has now.
If it's Josh, it wouldn't be the only time his family has brought him back into the public eye lately. In the past week, he has shown up on social media pages, both with the Duggar family and his in-laws.
We know Josh did attend Jinger Duggar's wedding -- Us shared photos of him leaving, alongside wife Anna Duggar, and holding their son.
The photo spread across the internet before the wedding episode even aired, with Josh grinning widely, but would he actually appear in the wedding episode? After all, the reality show centering on the rest of the Duggar siblings wasn't supposed to include Josh, right?In screenshots from the episode, there are multiple glimpses of the back of a man's head, and one view of a jawline, partially blocked by the face of a child. How sure can we be that the man in question is Josh Duggar?
It certainly looks like Josh's jawline and forehead, peeking just slightly past the baby's head, but with only a sliver of face on camera, it's really impossible to say for certain. So, did Josh Duggar appear on Counting On? Viewers think so, and images from the episode seem to bear it out, and of course, Josh seems the most likely person to be holding Josh's son while Anna is a part of the wedding party, but there's just enough uncertainty, just enough of a possibility that it could be someone else, that we cannot say definitively that Josh appeared on camera.But was there really a promise from TLC that Josh would never return to programming? That's less clear.
When rumors circulated that Josh would appear in Season 2 of Counting On to tell his side of the story, the Duggar Family Blog responded with a piece noting that TLC had denied this, and saying that Josh wouldn't be part of any future programming. However, that's not quite what the People article the blog cites actually says.
Instead, the story cites TLC execs calling the rumors of Josh Duggar appearing to tell his story "absolutely untrue," and declares that
...he won't appear on Counting On in any formal capacity.So, if that's actually Josh, slightly visible on camera at Jinger Duggar's wedding, did TLC break a promise to viewers? On that, the answer is a pretty firm no.
The moral questions -- should Josh have been allowed to attend this major Duggar family event at all, and should he be allowed back on television -- are matters for each individual to judge, of course, though they are also decisions that may determine how the viewing audience feels about the Duggar reality show going forward.
That leaves one primary set of questions: was (a small peek of) Josh Duggar included deliberately in the episode, and will he be included further in future episodes? Since it's very clear that Josh was present during the filming of Jinger Duggar's wedding, that's a question that very well may be answered when Season 3 of Counting On premieres in January 2017. It's already been promised that more of Jinger's wedding will be featured.If he's included, we may also find out just exactly to what extent Josh Duggar remains persona non grata with TLC audiences.
[Featured Image by TLC/YouTube]