Goodbye to the amazingly fertile Duggar family, or at least for their reality show on TLC.
The network permanently canceled the family’s enormously popular 19 Kids and Counting show on Thursday.
It was a long time coming but it wasn’t a surprise.
After tabloid revelations in May blared news that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s eldest son, Josh, had admitted to molesting five underage girls, including his own sisters, when he was a teenager and that his parents had kept it secret, the show about the family and their many progeny had been in jeopardy.
“After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting. The show will no longer appear on the air, the network said in a statement on its website. “The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection.”
Marjorie Kaplan, group president of TLC, Animal Planet and Velocity networks, told the Associated Press that the network spent weeks trying to decide what to do with the show. The network and the Duggars had been under enormous pressure for weeks on social media to cancel.
“We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here,” Kaplan said.
“We took it as an opportunity to step further than just ‘How do we protect ourselves?’ and step into ‘How do we protect our audience and protect children? Our hope is to do more of that, in a way that’s thoughtful and respectful of the victims of child abuse.”
Jessa Seewald, who identified herself to Megyn Kelly as one of the victims, insisted that Josh Duggar’s behavior was not as bad as the media made it out to seem.
“I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong. I’m not going to justify anything that he did or say it was OK. [It was] not permissible,” Seewald said. “But I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester, or a pedophile or a rapist. … That is so overboard and a lie, really.
The network said it plans a documentary about sex-abuse with some of the Duggars, including oldest daughters and self-described victims of Jose, Jill and Jessa.
“We are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue.” the network’s statement said. “TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.”
The Duggars responded by thanking the film crew that worked on their hit show as well as fans in their statement reflecting on the end of their hit series.
With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become,” the family said. “It is our prayer that the painful situation our family went through many years ago can point people toward faith in God and help others who also have lived through similar dark situations to find help, hope and healing, as well.”
“We appreciate the love, support, prayers and kindness extended to us by many of you. You have deeply touched our hearts and encouraged us, during this time,” the family continued. “We know Who holds the future and are confident that He will work all things together for good.”
— by Maria Puente | RNS
CNJ staff added to this report