Could there be a new Duggar show in the works? Last year, the idea seemed an impossibility, given the ongoing Josh Duggar scandals and his family’s fast fall from reality television grace. In 2016, though, new comments from network executives–including higher ups at TLC, the Duggars’ former home network–have made a new Duggar show look at least possible, if not likely.
It was only seven months ago that 19 Kids And Counting was canceled amid a firestorm of criticism stemming from Josh Duggar’s childhood molestation of several of his siblings and the Duggar family’s coverup of the story. The cancelation has cost TLC upwards of $20 million dollars, and subsequent fallout from the Ashley Madison hacking scandal led disgraced former moralist Josh Duggar to call himself “the biggest hypocrite ever” and flee to sex addiction treatment. Former family insiders have come clean about the “dictatorship” that Jim Bob Duggar, family patriarch, runs inside his family’s Arkansas compound. And Danica Dillon, one of Josh Duggar’s former mistresses, came forward with a story about the “traumatic” sex the two had, before suing Josh for $500,000 in civil court.
At the same time, TLC’s three-part Jill & Jessa: Counting On special, which detailed the lives of the Duggars in the wake of the mid-year scandals, drew big ratings for the network. While the miniseries focused primarily on Jill Duggar and Jessa Seewald, both of whom were molested by Josh Duggar in their youth, the episodes also gave Josh’s wife Anna Duggar a chance to speak for herself for the first time since the scandals broke. Speculation about the likelihood of a Josh and Anna Duggar divorce was rampant; while Anna ultimately decided that she wanted a “restored marriage” with the husband of her four children, she did at one point compare Josh to a baby, and said that the pain of his disgrace was worse than childbirth.
Furthermore, multiple reports of family infighting surfaced: members were said to be torn between supporting Anna’s decision to go in front of TLC cameras and share what she could of her side of the story, and feeling like Anna was being “paraded out” in order to satisfy the network’s craving for ratings. A side-argument quickly surfaced, with insiders claiming that Duggar family members were accusing each other of pandering to the network for whatever lost revenue they could make up via the Jill & Jessa specials.
And the biggest Duggar news of the end of 2015 was the story that Jim Bob and his wife are planning to expand their 19-child family via adoption: their intention is to make it 20 Duggars and counting sometime this year.
Keeping all of that drama straight has been difficult for fans and detractors of the Duggar family, and it’s one reason why TLC is reportedly considering bringing the family back to its airwaves in some capacity–possibly in the form of another Jill & Jessa special. At least one new report suggests that the network is in preliminary talks with the family, and Nancy Daniels, executive vice president of TLC, recently told reporters that the show’s audience “still cares” about the Duggar family girls, so she and her people are in turn “still talking” about new Duggar-based programming.
Regarding Josh Duggar and his many scandals, Daniels was more careful with her language: “Every decision we’ve made has been done very thoughtfully and very carefully about what is in the best interests of the people involved and the network.”
Daniels noted that the Jill & Jessa specials drew an average of three million viewers per night. She also defended TLC’s screening process for on-air talent–Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was also canceled, in late 2014, because of child molestation-related concerns–telling reporters “We do have a strong screening process, and I think, over the years, our screening process has evolved.”
(Photo credits: New Duggar show via Facebook)