TLC and the Duggar Family Situation: More Lies And Counting

'19 Kids & Counting' is just the latest embarrassment that TLC won't learn from.
TLC

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that TLC, the most socially irresponsible channel on the planet — and growing! — has yet to officially cancel 19 Kids and Counting, another of its dubious creations to find itself in trouble.

Why? Because TLC is probably too busy counting the money before sussing out the PR damage and whether the Duggar family can keep on selling its particular brand of religious double-standards and moral finger-pointing after one of its 19, Josh Duggar, admitted his involvement in a sexual molestation scandal involving five underage girls in 2002-2003, which reportedly included his sisters.

Where other channels or companies might think that the stink and heinous implications of a sexual molestation “problem” involving someone on their TV show would be the perfect time to run in the opposite direction, TLC is about as worried about public opinion as it is whether the shows it peddles are reprehensible. In short, it doesn’t.

You might remember that TLC not only put on Toddlers & Tiaras, a trainwreck of bad parental decisions involving their children and the exploitation thereof, but the far worse spinoff, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which was child exploitation taken to a new level, where the show managed to laugh at fat people, rednecks, the South, personal hygiene, ignorance and, well, what’s left? The show worked until Honey Boo Boo’s mom, known as Mama June Shannon, was reportedly dating a convicted child molester who allegedly abused her daughter, Anna.

TLC canceled the show. No doubt, regrettably, since it was really printing money off of it. (In a strange twist to TLC’s newest problem, Mama June is joining the voices of others calling for TLC to cancel 19 Kids and Counting).

At some point, you have to wonder how much TLC knows. Since the channel profits on exploitation, how much of that has it let fester despite warning signs? Certainly there wasn’t a need for some kind of genius to look at the Honey Boo Boo situation and surmise that it was a disaster waiting to happen. So, basically, TLC execs only had to watch their own show for a short period of time and think, “This will end badly.”

It did.

In the case of Josh Duggar and 19 Kids and Counting, the statute of limitations has run out on filing charges against Josh, 27, who fessed up his part of the molestation to his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, who in turn chalked the whole thing up to teenage mistakes. Ahem.

But the Josh Duggar situation only took off in the news when In Touch Magazine got records of the initial police investigation. The question, then, is when did TLC know they had a child molester on their hit TV show, which preaches family values? Beyond that, now that TLC — and everybody else — knows, why wasn’t there a swift cancelation of the sham that is 19 Kids and Counting?

It seems kind of obvious, yes?

The Duggars have regularly gone out of their way to rail against other people not living up to their “traditional family values,” which looked like a freak-fest on the very surface but was apparently so much uglier underneath. Michelle Duggar reportedly recorded a political “robo-call” that compared transgender people to child predators. Josh Duggar himself, working for the conservative Family Research Council (long after his involvement with the five underage girls), took issue with the LGBT community and strongly opposed gay marriage, among other proclamations of the just. When patriarch Jim Bob, who was an Arkansas State Representative, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002 (note the timing as it relates to Josh Duggar’s “teenage mistakes”), his campaign, as detailed by Gawker, which went back over old campaign material, advocated for rape and incest to be capital crimes, which could be punishable by death.

Luckily for Josh, Dad didn’t win.

All this does, unsurprisingly, is thoroughly out one famous TV family of religious bigots as sanctimonious liars and, ahem, sinners, themselves. History is littered with the righteous having all kinds of dirty secrets. And who knows, maybe TLC wanted those to come out eventually because then the show would be even more of a gross curiosity and Americans would tune in to rubberneck. Ratings would rise. Profits would rise.

It’s pretty much the business model at TLC to put on schlock and let everybody else praise it or loathe so long as they watch it.  TLC is or was home to My 600-lb Life, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, America’s Worst Tattoos, Breaking Amish, Gypsy Sisters, Hoarding: Buried Alive, Kate Plus 8, four shows about “Little People,” My Five Wives, My Strange Addiction, My Big Fat Fabulous Life, Sex Sent Me To the ER, Sister Wives and, well, a colossal collection of other crap.

Once you get in the business of producing shows like that — shows meant to be little more than a televised circus — perhaps you lose the capacity to know when it’s time to pull the plug on one where sexual molestation and perhaps incest have taken place, right under the series’ mantra of pure conservative values.

There is currently a sustained push to shame TLC into abandoning the Duggars and their sanctimonious lies and horrible family secrets. But that’s the thing. I’ve written a lot of these “TLC is the worst channel in the universe” columns through the years, but guess what? Nothing changes. You can’t shame TLC and the people who run it because they don’t have any shame left.

Whatever happens to the Duggars, trust me, another scandal will follow. And TLC will once again pretend to be shocked.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine

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