ETWA #1: 19 Kids and Counting (…the Days ’til the Apocalypse)

The Duggar family at the birth of their 17th of 19 children. Photo from

Let’s begin the Everything Wrong with America series with one of TLC’s most popular series, 19 Kids and Counting. Just a bit of background: this show is about Jim Bob (no, really) and Michelle Duggar and their slightly misguided (Evangelical) decision to have a gargantuan pile of children–only 19 so far. Number 20 is supposedly on its way. They don’t take money from the government, but they also don’t pay taxes, considering their household resembles a non-profit shelter: The Shelter for Unfortunate Children Whose Names All Cruelly Begin with the Letter J.

First things first: folks, your nineteenth child was born three months early and has been in the hospital for months. You don’t think this is a sign from God (or whomever) to maybe STOP HAVING BABIES? Secondly, I hope the Chinese have banned TLC (what am I saying? of COURSE they have) from entering the country’s cyberspace. If I was required to halt my babymaking after the first go-around, I would be infuriated by some crazy white people in Arkansas cranking them out faster than you can say “overpopulation.”

But most importantly, let’s just use our imaginations for a second. Imagine, in a weird, “diverse” world, where 19 Kids and Counting featured an African American family. Or a Latino family. Or an immigrant family. Can you see this show going on the air? And if so, how would the average viewer see this family’s massive number of children? We all know one racist or another would start the conversation with the word “welfare,” even if  no welfare was involved. All of a sudden, the zealous 19 Kids and Counting ain’t exactly as “quaint,” is it?

Would you watch a show about this family?

And what if the family lived anywhere but the U.S.? What if they lived in Argentina? Or Peru? Would the same appeal still apply?

But they all play ORCHESTRA instruments, so they MUST be all right! Photo from

On this channel, we get to peek into the adorable lives of these devout, Creationist-teaching, Bible-hugging baby machines. Aren’t those kids cute? But sooner or later, we get down to the bottom of it: Aren’t those totally harmless little white, home-schooled, super-Christian, super-American kids cute? It seems so foreign, so different–but a black family? My goodness, not THAT different!

Thanks for that opportunity, TLC!


Jim Bob Duggar, as Jim Bob Duggar. Wikimedia Commons

Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, Wikimedia



4 responses to “ETWA #1: 19 Kids and Counting (…the Days ’til the Apocalypse)

  1. I always forget about that show, but every time it resurfaces, we’re always on a sequel. Didn’t it start as like… a one hour special about 16 kids? I mean… it’s worse than THE LAND BEFORE TIME. Was it always “____ and counting”? Because that seems to encourage their behavior.

  2. Devon!

    Love the new site with the new .com!

    And, er, not that I’m totally obsessed with the Duggars or anything, but your first photo is of the birth of the 17th child, Jennifer, not the 18th, Jordyn.

    I remember watching “On the Road with 16 Children” back in 2007, and thinking they couldn’t be a bigger family. I was seriously, seriously wrong.

    • Correction noted and edited. This has been embarrassing for no one but you, Lauren. Shame on you.

      • Dude.

        I worked at People Magazine. I don’t want to tell you how many times I’ve had to count the Duggars.

        As a side note, from memory excerpt of my favorite People letter ever:

        “Dear People Magazine,

        Enclosed you will find a $1 donation to found a ‘Get Jimbob a Box of Condoms Fund.’ I would appreciate it if you would notify other readers, so we can reach out to him and let him know there are other options.”

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