Ten Things Reality Television and Christian Patriarchs Have in Common – Duggar Edition

Ten Things Reality Television and Christian Patriarchs Have in Common – Duggar Edition December 13, 2015

A screen cap from an early Duggar family special. Michelle is wearing a 'countenance-enhancing' big collar with her red sack-like jumper. Oh how much she's changed.
A screen cap from an early Duggar family special. Michelle is wearing a ‘countenance-enhancing’ big collar with her red sack-like jumper. Oh how much she’s changed.

by Suzanne Titkemeyer cross posted from her blog Every Breaking Wave

Editor’s note: I know many here have recently emailed me and I have not replied. I still cannot bend my thumb or several fingers or parts of my right hand and am having to get others to type as I dictate or update NLQ. I will attempt to answer all emails this week. Thanks for your understanding!

For over two weeks now I’ve been mostly in the bed due to a systemic infection that nearly caused me to lose my thumb and part of my hand. I haven’t been able to do much, except watch television between my bouts in the hospital. While I was horizontal and unable to use my right hand I started thinking about reality television, something so many people put down as trashy and worthless and what it has in common with good Christian Patriarchs.

1. Men Only Want ‘Good’ Girls – Three different seasons of ‘Rock of Love’ starring 80s hair band singer Bret Michaels reinforced the CPM notion that good girls are the most desirable for long term relationships. While all three times the show was filled with attractive women willing to perform varying degrees of sexual acts with Bret Michaels ultimately he always chose the women would did not sleep with him.

This dove tails with the Patriarchal insistence on modesty and virginity being the only way.

2. Men Compete For Alpha Male Status – During my recent bout of ill health one of the things I was stuck doing was rewatching a lot of bad television, including some ancient reality game shows from VH1, like a pile of competitive dating shows, including ‘Rock of Love’ loser who scored her own show Daisy De La Hoya – ‘Daisy of Love’. During ‘Daisy’ and various other shows like ‘Mr. Personality’ plus various incarnations of ‘The Bachelorette’ it becomes obvious that if you put 20 men together in a house to complete for the love of one woman that they will immediately start engaging in bad behavior and crazy stunts to prove what an Alpha male they are. On ‘Daisy’ we saw men doing things like back flips off lighting rigs to drinking competitions to prove masculinity. Now it didn’t always work out well for everyone, particularly one man that ended up with a bloody gash on his head and another that got so drunk that the only way he could communicate with Daisy was by dolphin-like clicks and squeals.

While drunken antics are frowned upon in the CPM how many times have we witnessed the desperate attempts to prove Alpha male status in crazy ways? Steven L. Anderson insisting on carrying his wife Zsuzsanna Anderson around the house and claiming that real he men only pee standing up? What about all the insane claims of Michael Pearl about men, manhood and the types of men? His treatment of Debi during that Honeymoon From Hell they took along the Gulf Coast that ended with Debi collapsing from exhaustion? His attempts to have more sex that first night than any of his peers? Tim Bayly’s frequent temper tantrums on his blog over any slight thing that might possibly threaten his sense of masculinity. Von Ohlman’s control of his family? Biblical Gender Roles advice to rape your wife if she says no, but not to look on her sinning unhappy face while you do the raping?

3. Appearance Matters More Than Reality – We’ve seen this one even in Christian reality shows, so I don’t have to cite things that have happened in reality television that involve liquor and horny contestants. Best example of this is the cover up by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of their eldest son Josh Duggar’s many transgressions against his sisters and another girl during the filming of their reality show. When these things were exposed the family and their supporters have told everyone to shut up.

4. Holding Out For The Big Payout At The End – See above. Anyone remember the reality show ‘Fear Factor’? On ‘Fear Factor’ you had to perform a series of challenges, usually at least one of them involved having to eat something pretty disgusting on camera. Very rarely would someone refuse to eat the pig rectum or thousand year old pickled egg. Why? Because to refuse is to risk losing out on the final prize. This has been repeated again and again on so many of the competitive reality shows, contestants risking life, limb and dignity to keep their chances of winning high.

Holding out of the big payout is a little different in the CPM, it’s not so much swallowing your disgust or fear to accomplish a feat of daring-do. It’s more a doubling-down on the message or core beliefs because you believe that the big payout is going to be a large family of righteous believers you’ve spawned or your possible crowns in heaven.

Or, if you are one of the Duggar family, you hang in there through sex scandal, media scrutiny or whatever in order to get back on television and earn those big bucks. With tonight’s special Jim Bob and Michelle have made it clear that their children, their children’s needs and emotional needs are all fungible, on sale to the highest television bidder. That says more about what they actually believe in that any amount of Bible verses they may spout.

5. Being Forced To Deal With Less Than Optimal Conditions – Anyone remember Colby Donaldson falling face first into the fire on ‘Survivor’? On ‘Survivor’ the game is played in a remote location without much in the way of help or resources. You have to rely on your own skills to advance on the show, but other reality shows aren’t much better. You might be in a ‘mansion’ on some of the competitive reality shows, squashed in with assorted strangers and you are not allowed any outside contact. Total control over aspect of your being including the power over if you receive medical treatment.

How is that any different than the patriarchal control exercised by many patriarchs over their women and children? Does anyone remember the early days of the Duggar shows when the family was in a tiny rental home and the children were shown routinely eating things like white bread and baloney sandwiches? And they are hardly the only ones. Many CPM guys cannot provide a decent sized home for their growing brood, like Steven L. Anderson and his family living in a little over 1,500 square feet with one bath for all of them. Patriarchs always harken back to olden times when entire large families lived in a small log cabin with their animals, but all they are doing is trying to self justify providing a substandard environment for their family. Remember the Pearls and feeding their children animal feed?

6. There Are Enforcers Who Limit Access To The Outside World – The reality television shows always have lurking staff rarely seen on the show to keep some sort of order, make sure that everyone abides by whatever rules are, and to keep everyone away from friends, family, social media and all news.

In CPM families many times the father is the enforcer, the one that keeps the kids off the internet and social media, the one that insists on limiting contact with the outside world. Which is another reason why homeschooling is pushed so hard in the CPM. Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy doesn’t believe in even allowing your children to attend youth groups or any function, church related or not, where children might be exposed to anyone different than them.

7. You Have To Hide Your True Self To Survive – Without even looking at other reality shows you can see this is particularly true with the Duggar family. How long did Josh hide his love of porn, his infidelity and lies? Had he simply been allowed to be sexual curious at adolescence, be his genuine real self, things might have worked out much differently.

8. For Every Success There Are Lots of Disappointed People – On ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice’ there are always tons of very talented folks that vie for a spot on the show, only to end up being cut before they’ve even started. That’s not even considering the ones that do manage to compete on the national television stage and get quickly voted out. For the thousands that try out for those shows there is only one winner per year.

Even as many patriarchs point at the success of their broods it seems like only one or two, if any, ever manage to carve out a life that is successful, a credit to how their parents raised them. Look at the offspring of Geoffrey Botkin, Michael Pearl, or even Nancy and Colin Campbell. There’s not much there to be held up as a shining example of a life that is something to aspire to. There is a lot of living without heat, or basic needs being met. Not such a great example of how their theology always works out.

If it were not for the reality show money that the Duggar family has received none of their children would have what little they possess now. Was Josh Duggar even remotely qualified for his position with the Family Research Council? Well, no, he barely had a basic education. The married daughters, Jill and Jessa, seem to be married to men who don’t actually have real jobs. That’s not success by any measure.

9. There Are Very Few Genuine People There – In many of the competitive dating reality shows the ones vying to win sometimes seem like two different people. One extra charming personality when around the object of their desire and someone else entirely different when hanging out in the group away from the love interest. That’s not even taking into account that being locked in a location and being filmed twenty four hours a day is such a strange situation that it can cause one to behave in an entirely different false manner.

In patriarchy children learn very quickly to put on a fake manner or false front and reflect back to the enforcer parent only those attitudes and behaviors required. So many times when someone finally manages to escape the family they go into a completely contradictory direction than how they were raised. So far most of the Duggar children who’ve gained adulthood have kept with the family line, with the exception of Josh. Josh learned early on to put on the false piety that fooled his parents all the while indulging his carnal sexual nature for many years behind their backs.

10. It Changes You, Not Necessarily For The Better – It seems like every man associated with one of the Kardashian ladies on ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ has suffered some lessening of stature and wrecked career after they leave the show. All you have to do is look at the plastic surgery nightmare that is Clay Aiken’s face, see how many people from “Celebrity Rehab” are now dead and how many “American Idol” winners have filed for bankruptcy to know it’s true. One of the few that I have seen manage to change for the better is ‘Honey Boo Boo Child’ matriarch June Shannon, she’s lost over a hundred pounds as a result of the television show putting her in contact with help with her weight.

We’ve seen first hand how many patriarchs start off not too differently that most folks, only to become more and more controlling and restrictive towards their families and followers as time has gone on. Reality television sure changed the Duggars. Gone are the jumpers with huge face-enhancing blouse collars and slight makeup. Gone are all mentions of blanket training. Gone are feeding the kids baloney sandwiches on white bread. As time as gone by the Duggars have become outwardly more worldly in dress and behavior.


Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin of NLQ and also the wife of a man who had sense enough to recognize their church as a cult before dragging her out. She is a crazy old cat lady keeps busy with her grown children, her rescue animals, foster care animals and her love of all things art. Contrary to Fundy-Belief she’s usually smiling, laughing or smirking while swilling diet coke and dispensing sarcasm. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape


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