19 Kids and Counting Is Not Returning to Television, but Some of the Duggar Kids May Be

It was last July when all the scandals with the Duggar family finally hit the fan and TLC officially canceled their reality show 19 Kids and Counting. It was surprising, really, that it hadn’t happened earlier, immediately after it was revealed that Josh Duggar had been accused of molesting five girls (including four of his sisters) when he was younger — while some of them were sleeping, no less.

TLC stopped airing episodes of the show in May, when the story became national news, but there was question of whether the Duggars had appeared on TV for the last time.

As we soon learned, TLC wasn’t going to let this cash cow run dry anytime soon.

They aired a special in August called Breaking the Silence that focused on two of Josh Duggar’s victims, Jessa Duggar Seewald and Jill Duggar Dillard. You could make the argument, though, that this was okay since it was all about what the girls went through; the show wasn’t promoting their family.

That soon morphed into a three-part series called Jill & Jessa: Counting On. Again, the focus was on the victims and their lives. Not the full Duggar family.

But this week, news surfaced that TLC had announced the return of 19 Kids and Counting. Jess Dailo, writing for the Christian Post, explained:

After seeing the success of the short series, it was announced that TLC will be bringing back “19 Kids and Counting” to the small screen. Reports show that a camera crew was recently seen with the Duggar family. They were seen in several locations such as a lumberyard and a thrift store.

In addition, it was revealed that the upcoming focus of the new season will be on Jana Duggar. The premiere of the upcoming season will show her opening up about her sentiments on being single. Her younger sisters are already married and have families of their own, which causes her to compare herself to them.

“19 Kids and Counting” is expected to return to the small screen this 2016.

Holy shit. Seriously? After so many advertisers balked and TLC was at the center of a media firestorm?

A lot of right-wing watchdog websites saw that news and ran with it.

The problem is that it’s just not true.

Here’s how I know that.

First of all, the only publication reporting this news is the Christian Post. Are we really supposed to believe no one else is covering this? That alone should make you suspicious.

The Christian Post also doesn’t link to any official statement regarding the show. The article only says “it was announced” without saying by whom or where.

Second, TLC’s general manager Nancy Daniels announced at the recent Television Critics Association press tour that they were only considering bringing the Duggars back — and even then, it would be in a very limited capacity (i.e. just the non-controversial ones).

“We just aired the three specials [Jill & Jessa: Counting On] during the holidays. They did very well,” a clearly-frustrated Daniels said, citing the viewership of more than three million. “The audience clearly cares about these girls.”

As for the possibility of more episodes or a series centering around the sisters, Daniels said, “We’re still talking and considering it, but we have not made a decision yet.”

Third, Christian Right leader Bryan Fischer retweeted the Post’s article. And if Bryan Fischer says it’s true, it’s probably bullshit. (Commandment #11: Thou Shalt Not Tell a Lie, Unless You’re Doing It for Jesus.)

Fourth, the Christian Post‘s article cites “reports” that a camera crew was following the Duggars. But those reports were focused on Jana and Jinger Duggar, who may also be getting their own spinoff series.

In short, TLC hasn’t severed its ties with the Duggar family. They may very well air more episodes — maybe even entire shows — around the 18 Duggar kids who aren’t mired in scandal.

But 19 Kids and Counting, the show that focused on the entire Duggar family (including Josh), doesn’t appear to be returning to television anytime soon, no matter what the Christian Post says.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.