The Duggar family became massively popular almost overnight. The TLC show based on their lives, which was at first called 17 Kids and Counting and later renamed 19 Kids and Counting to reflect their expanding brood, captivated audiences from coast to coast. It leads former fans of the show to question – if everyone loved the Duggars so much, why did their show get canceled?
The answer comes down to money, as it usually does. Here’s what happened.
‘19 Kids and Counting’ showed a different way of life
Pop culture portrays modern life a certain way and if there ever was an opposite, the Duggars are it. This strict, Evangelical Christian family rejects the ways of society by imposing strict rules on their children and raising them in a sheltered bubble. There’s no dating before marriage, no kissing, no hand-holding, no hugging. Duggar women wear skirts exclusively. No one watches questionable movies or shows. The children are all homeschooled by Michelle.
The show premiered on September 29, 2008. At one point in time, it was TLC’s most popular series, boasting 2.3 million viewers per episode. Jim Bob and Michelle may have just been living their lives, but audiences couldn’t get enough of seeing how they did it.
A scandal rocked the Duggars’ world
The reason the show ultimately got canceled has to do with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s oldest son, Josh. On May 21, 2015, a police report from 2006 was leaked in the press and resulted in a media uproar. The report indicated that in 2002 and 2003, which is before the show was on the air, Josh was accused of molesting five young girls. Four of these accusers were his own sisters. The events supposedly happened while the girls were asleep and awake.
Even though Josh confessed that the allegations were true, his parents helped keep him from being prosecuted and he avoided going to trial for the sexual misconduct. Josh, who was married with three children when the news broke, made a public apology for “acting inexcusably” and resigned from his job at the Family Research Council. His wife decided to stay with him (divorce is not unheard of in the Duggar clan, but it is uncommon).
Advertisers distanced themselves from the Duggars
Once news of the scandal broke, advertisers couldn’t get away from the Duggar family fast enough. More than 20 sponsors including General Mills, Walgreens, Payless ShoeSource, Choice Hotels, Pizza Hut, Sweet Leaf Tea, and Crayola removed their ads from the show.
On July 16, 2015, TLC owner Discovery Communications announced that the show was canceled.
The Duggar family comes back to television
But thanks to their extraordinary popularity, TLC found a way to bring back the Duggars in a new way – this time, without Josh. The series Counting On, which focused on the lives of three married Duggar children (obviously not Josh), premiered as a temporary spinoff in December 2015. It was so successful that it got picked up for a full season and is still on the air today.
‘Counting On’ controversy
But just because Josh was removed from the TLC shows based on the Duggars, it doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing. Jill Duggar’s husband, Derick Dillard, was removed from the show Counting On following a series of homophobic tweets he sent out about Jazz Jennings. His wife Jill voluntarily left the show too as a show of solidarity with her husband. Fans speculate that she might come back, though.
Counting On Season 9 is expected to return sometime in early 2019.