Could Jim Bob Duggar be scheming to return his family to reality TV in some form?
Even TLC has some standards. They canceled the Duggars once, sneakily boiled the frog with a second show, then canceled that one.
But there are other reality networks that don’t mind catering to the less inclusive fringes of society.
Longtime Duggar-watchers (not to be confused with fans) wonder if a certain network that caters to too-conservative-to-watch-Hallmark viewers would give Jim Bob a new sinister platform.
Counting No More!
There are a litany of reasons for which the Duggar family should never have been on TV. Well, reality TV.
Court TV is really their niche — and not as paid cast members. More of a featured topic.
In fact, given that their whole motive for reality TV fame was to enrich Jim Bob by millions and promote a sanitized version of their extreme lifestyle, it’s pretty sad that we (as in, society) had those kids on TV instead of placed into better homes.
Unfortunately, both reality TV and the American legal system do very little to protect children — often waiting until it’s too late, if they do anything at all.
By the time that the law actually caught up to disgraced sexual predator Josh Duggar, he already had a string of child sexual abuse victims under his belt. And it was downloading child sexual abuse material (CSAM), not his personal victims, that landed him behind bars.
Josh’s interest in the abuse of prepubescent girls and the ensuing scandals precipitated both Duggar cancelations on TLC. Hopefully, they will never get a chance for a third.
Are the Duggars “Great American Family” material?
Recently, a Reddit post under /DuggarSnark (which differentiates discussion from the more nauseating “fan” forums) posed an interesting question.
“GAF (the Great American Family channel) launched in 2021 to present ‘family friendly’ (ie. conservative Christian) content,” the post began.
OP continued: “To audiences who felt the Hallmark Channel was becoming too liberal (you know, because they allowed an advertisement to run that had a gay couple in it).”
“It’s headed up by former Hallmark Channel CEO Bill Abbott, and now has an exclusive Christmas movie agreement with Candace Cameron,” the Reddit post explains.
“As I see it, that makes GAF the perfect place for JimBob to pitch the next iteration of his show to,” OP writes.
“Do you think he’s already made the pitch? Do you think GAF has approached JimBob?” the redditor asks. “Or are the Duggars now too problematic, even for a network like GAF?”
That is SUCH an interesting suggestion!
As we and the Reddit post note, Great American Family presents itself as the further-to-the-right alternative to Hallmark.
A lot of people consider Hallmark to be something that they watch ironically if at all.
Much of the network’s content has conservative Christian elements — nuclear families, Christmas everywhere (and this is treated as a positive), and more straight people than you ever imagined could exist in one place.
Great American Family projects also don’t feature things like sex or even particularly suggestive scenes.
In other words, it’s family viewing that even the most uptight parents might allow their children to watch.
That might sound like a perfect fit with the extreme lifestyle of the Duggars, where the cult’s strict rules dictate everything from what clothing people wear to which human rights women don’t have.
Jim Bob is toxic to any brand
However, and we truly hate to find ourselves in the position of “defending” GAF, but the network’s creepy saccharine church lady vibes might be exactly what makes them a bad fit for a Duggar family comeback.
A family that is perhaps best known in wider society for covering up their son’s crimes against helpless little girls — including several of their own daughters — is not wholesome entertainment.
We all know that. And it’s likely that, given everything that recent documentaries and tell-all books have exposed, the folks at GAF know that, too.
Great American Family isn’t courting controversy
In fact, while we are reluctantly defending GAF, we should note that the network has made some very mild statements to distance themselves from … Candace Cameron Bure.
Not too long ago, she more or less suggested that the presence of LGBTQ+ characters on Hallmark made her happy to work on Great American Family.
The implication? That GAF would only ever show “traditional marriage” (an inaccurate euphemism for marriage between two straight, cisgender people). Some actors even quit GAF in response to Bure’s homophobic dogwhistle.
However, in a recent interview with Variety, GAF CEO Bill Abbot distanced himself from Candace Cameron Bure’s words.
He didn’t confirm whether the network actually plans to include even a single LGBTQ+ character or storyline, but he also didn’t say that the network will continue to mandate that every character be heterosexual and cisgender.
Mostly, he just wanted to insert a disclaimer that Candace’s viewers are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the network’s. A largely meaningless comment, but it’s something. And not the words of a network about to court a disgraced former reality TV family.
Other disgraced TLC alums have made TV comebacks
That said, even if Jim Bob would alienate even most Christian conservative audiences at this point, that doesn’t mean that a comeback is off the table.
Just the other day, I was pointing out to a friend how Mama June Shannon cozied up in bed with a sexual predator who had preyed upon her own daughter. TLC canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
But then, she made a comeback on WEtv. There are often unscrupulous networks ready to scoop up anyone to attract viewers. Television is, after all, a business. And as Better Off Ted noted, there’s no Fortune 500 list of most moral companies.