When the new season of Counting On premiered on TLC last week, fans immediately noticed something was amiss.
They already knew, of course, that Jill Duggar had quit the show when her husband, Derick Dillard, got fired in 2017.
But what came as a much greater surprise to card carrying members of Duggar Nation was the absence of Joy-Anna Duggar and Austin Forsyth.
Unlike Derick, Austin has no beef with either Jim Bob or TLC.
(Derick has been feuding with Jim Bob for months. He was fired by the network before that spat began, but the patriarch’s not gonna be fighting for Dillard to get his job back anytime soon.)
So the Forsyths certainly weren’t removed from the cast against their will.
And yet, they’re nowhere to be found on new episodes of Counting On.
Rumors of Joy-Anna quitting Counting On have been circulating for months, but the lack of an official announcement led many fans to believe she would continue to appear on the family show.
During the episode, Duggar fans on social media expressed confusion and speculation about the Fortsyths’ absence and many wondered if they would eventually return to the series.
Now we have an answer … sort of.
According to a new report from Newsweek, Austin and Joy will not be appearing on Counting On this season.
No one connected to the family has used the word "quit" yet, but that’s generally the term that’s used when one abruptly and voluntarily terminates one’s employment.
What’s also not being discussed is Austin and Joy’s reason for leaving the show.
If you’re a longtime fan of the Duggars, you’re probably aware that Joy and Austin are among the more private couples in the family.
As a result, there’s very little information out there about why they cut ties with TLC.
But that same introversion might provide all the info we need.
Joy-Anna suffered a miscarriage last year, and insiders say she wanted nothing more than to grieve privately, but found it difficult to do so while living in the public eye.
The experience reportedly left her feeling jaded with the demands of TV stardom.
These days, Joy-Anna is pregnant once again, and it seems she has no interest in televising the experience.
According to the Newsweek report, Joy and Austin will rely on renovating and flipping houses for income.
The outlet claims that their "departure from TLC was amicable," and there’s no reason to believe that any of Joy’s siblings will follow in her footsteps and leave the show.
There have been rumors that Joy left the show because she’s taking part in a rebellion against Jim Bob that’s being led by Jill and Derick.
But the truth seems to be something far less compelling — she simply got tired of being a reality TV star.
As for the Dillards, they generally keep mum about their connection — or lack thereof — to the reality TV franchise that made Jill’s family famous.
She most recently spoke on the matter back in November of 2019.
"We get asked that a lot.… No plans to [return to the show] currently," she told PopCulture dot com at the time.
Derick addressed the matter of his career future in a recent interview with The Sun, and he made no mention of returning to television.
"Our original plan from the time we married was to serve permanently on the international mission field," Dillard revealed.
"So, yes, we are definitely open to moving wherever God would lead us."
Jim Bob has described the Duggar media empire as a sort of televised ministry, so Derick’s remarks about performing actual missionary work could be a passive-aggressive way of thumbing his nose at his father-in-law.
The drama never ends with this family!