At first glance, it looks as though the Duggars are different from your typical reality TV family.
But on closer inspection, the Counting On clan has more in common with the Kardashians than they’d probably care to admit.
For as much as the Dugz talk about their religious beliefs and moral rectitude, there have been plenty of indications that their number one concern is the family business.
And the family business, of course, is fame.
In particular, reality television is the Duggars’ bread and butter, and business hasn’t exactly been booming lately.
In addition to its mediocre ratings, Counting On has proven to be a public relations nightmare for TLC.
Several advertisers have not only pulled out of the show, they’ve cut ties with the network altogether in direct response to the controversy surrounding the Duggars.
Ratings have rebounded slightly in recent weeks, and it seems there are two main factors driving the resurgence:
First, news that Jinger Duggar is engaged to Jeremy Vuolo prompted an uptick in media coverage of the beleaguered family.
Shortly thereafter, reports that Jessa Duggar is pregnant with her second child seemed to trigger a slight increase in viewership.
These developments were incredibly fortuitous in their timing, and now many fans are wondering if that’s no accident…
No one is saying that TV ratings were Jinger’s sole motivation for getting engaged, or Jessa’s only reason for getting pregnant.
But maybe the timing of the events has been orchestrated to give the Duggars a much-needed popularity boost, just as TLC execs are weighing their options with regard to the show’s third season.
Part of the speculation from fans has been prompted by the way in which the engagement and pregnancy were teased and "drawn out" over the course of the season.
We’ve known for months that Jinger plans to marry Jeremy, but the proposal wasn’t shown until several weeks into the show’s current season.
At one point, producers even hinted that Jeremy would pop the question on the next episode, only to pull a shameless bait-and-switch and hit viewers with an "engagement special" clip show instead.
Similarly, Jessa hid her pregnancy from fans for as long as possible, even going so far as to post old photos of herself on Instagram, so that fans wouldn’t take notice of her absence.
It’s not unusual for pregnant women to avoid talking about their pregnancies in the first trimester, but Jessa took these precautions well after her bump was showing, and she spoke about being knocked up in episodes of Counting On that taped several months ago.
So is all this a coincidence, or are the Duggars truly living their lives for the cameras?
We may never know, and frankly, it seems their fans don’t really care.