’19 Kids and Counting’: 3 Moments From the Series That Duggar Family Critics Think Are Heartbreakingly Sad

For decades, TLC captured the Duggar family’s best and worst moments. Initially, the supersized family seemed benign enough. As years passed and scandals piled up, that all changed. Just as they once amassed fans, they began to garner criticism. Duggar family critics note that even the family’s show, 19 Kids and Counting, which aimed to show the family in a positive light, had tough moments. There are three moments from the now-defunct series that made their hearts break for the Duggar kids.

Jill Duggar panicking at a dental appointment is sadder now that fans understand the context

By the time she was 17, Jill Dillard was a seasoned television personality. She managed to hold her emotions in pretty well for most of her reality TV career. Still, back in 2009, she unraveled on camera when she needed dental surgery. The 19 Kids and Counting episode “Duggars Under the Knife” captured Jill grappling with the thought of being put under anesthesia. Family followers walked away from the episode feeling bad that TLC’s cameras captured an emotional moment and that the network decided to air it. They also felt like Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar didn’t offer Jill enough support and comfort.

Jessa Duggar, Jinger Duggar, Jill Duggar, and Jana Duggar of the Duggar family standing next to each other at 'Extra' studios
Jessa Duggar, Jinger Duggar, Jill Duggar, and Jana Duggar visit ‘Extra’ at their New York studios | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

Years later, they feel worse and worse for the then-teenaged Jill. The episode aired in 2009, several years before the media revealed that Jill had been molested by her older brother. Police reports related to the incident said the victims. Which included Jill and several of her sisters were touched, in some instances, while they were sleeping. Duggar family followers wonder if Jill’s reaction to the procedure was a trauma response rather than general anxiety.

’19 Kids and Counting’ viewers were horrified by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar after Jason Duggar had a scary accident

With 19 children running around, accidents tend to happen. While Duggar family critics have pointed to multiple moments they’ve found negligent, no moment is more referenced than Jason Duggar’s fall through a trap door. TLC cameras captured the scary scene back in 2011. During a music rehearsal, Jason fell about 12 feet into a darkened room under a stage. John David Duggar and Jill were quick to respond and offer Jason some first aid and comfort while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Jim Bob and Michelle were late to the emergency. Even once they came, viewers argue, they didn’t seem to take the situation seriously enough.

Duggar family followers point to Jason’s fall as another moment highlighting how little individualized attention each of the Duggar kids was given. They also note that Jill and John David appeared more concerned about Jason than his parents. The entire situation was sad. Thankfully, Jason, now 21, made a full recovery.  The Duggars have never commented on viewer concerns.

The birth of Mackynzie Duggar had ’19 Kids and Counting’ viewers feeling sad for Anna Duggar

Josh Duggar, the family’s eldest son, was the first to get married and the first Duggar kid to become a parent. Seeing a chance to capitalize on the romance, TLC captured Josh’s proposal and the early days of his marriage to Anna Duggar. Within a year of their wedding, Anna was preparing to give birth to her first child, Mackynzie Duggar. TLC cameras captured that, too. While the birth of a child is, generally, a joyous occasion, 19 Kids and Counting viewers walked away from the TV special feeling a little sad.

Josh Duggar poses with wife Anna Duggar in 2015
Josh and Anna Duggar in 2015 | Kris Connor/Getty Images

Duggar family critics have long argued that The Duggars exploited Anna for ratings during her early marriage. Those same critics think Anna looked uncomfortable with the cameras chronicling her labor. All in all, viewers walked away from the birth special feeling awful for Anna. Their concern for the mother of six has only increased with each new scandal involving her husband. 

RELATED: ’19 Kids and Counting’: How the Duggar Family Landed Their Original Show