It’s real talk time about my beloved Duggar family and their show that I recap every week– 19 Kids and Counting. I know we all laugh week in and week out at the exploits of these differently-minded people and how hilarious/awful it is that they want to repopulate the earth with their babies. All along, I hope it has been obvious that while I am entertained by their shenanigans, I do not agree with their views on abortion, gay marriage, family planning and about 12,000 other things. Just because I watch the show does not mean I agree with or support their views. I will concede that I “support” them by contributing to their ratings by watching their show but I can’t help that this “alternative” lifestyle is fascinating to me. It is on, so I watch it. Whether that is right or wrong, I cannot say.
All of that said, the family is now under fire as a Change.org petition is being circulated to cancel their TV show because of their views against the LGBT community. As much as I completely agree that giving the Duggars a platform with their TV show is probably not TLC’s best move, I can’t say that I think the show should be canceled. Namely, because other than ditching the TV show, it won’t change much of anything. The Duggars are already famous and even if the show is canceled, they still will be. They are interviewed by major media outlets every week. They are all over social media. They’ve written several best-selling books. They already have a super dedicated fan base. Pulling the show now would not change any of that and would likely only serve to rally their existing fans around them to protect their “free speech.”
The problem with the family’s views on these topics is not necessarily that they have them to begin with- although I find it abhorrent that anyone feels the way that they do about homosexuality. The beef that the petition signers have is the fact that their show gives them a very public platform and has made them incredibly famous. They are not just some reality TV family in whom our interest wanes between seasons. They are legitimately famous. They are on the cover of People magazine for every marriage and pregnancy, in the manner of Brangelina or Beyonce. This translates to a lot of clout and visibility. And boy, are they using it.
The Duggars have always held their “family focused” views and years before they were made TLC-famous, Jim Bob Duggar ran for Arkansas political office. However, their increased fame has now made it possible for them to transmit their poisonous and discriminatory views to the masses more easily than ever before. For example, Josh Duggar, their oldest son, holds a directorship with the Family Research Council, a Christian public policy group with discriminatory views toward homosexuals. I’m sure the TV show is what made it possible for Josh to be in this role. Although this is disturbing, I still highly doubt they are changing the minds of anyone who already disagrees with them, but they do lend a certain influence that cannot be denied and definitely serve to get their base riled up.
Since TLC has so creatively and carefully edited the TV show to not expose any of the behind-the-scenes facts, many casual (and even voracious) viewers of the show likely have no idea what lays beneath. They do not bring up their more controversial viewpoints on TV and viewers are left with the impression that they are a wholesome family with well-behaved children and nothing more. This is troublesome for many reasons, chief among them, it disguises their hatred and bigotry. People see a cadre of beautiful, smiling daughters and it becomes easier to forgive them for wanting to discriminate against a large community of fellow human beings by not allowing them to share in the same privilege they hold so sacred- marriage. However, canceling the show, though a good PR move on TLC’s part, still won’t change the fact that many people agree with them. And always will.
Bottom line, I think TLC canceling the show is probably the right thing to do but I don’t think it will change a thing. And as my colleague Maria Guido says, “I like to know my enemy”. I know the Duggars being famous has certainly educated me on the fact that this kind of viewpoint even exists and the reasons why. It makes it easier to stand up for my own beliefs when I know what I’m standing against. Let them spew their hatred and defend “the traditional family”- it won’t change a thing. We can all laugh and be entertained and at least be aware of the tactics people like the Duggars employ so we can play a good defense.
(Image: Brenden Hoffamn/Getty Images)