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This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Discovery hasn’t just yanked its reality series 19 Kids and Counting from U.S. airwaves after star Josh Duggar, 27, admitted he molested girls. “All episodes were pulled, in the U.S. and abroad,” a Discovery rep tells THR, including from TLC nets in Europe and Asia. But overseas, the Duggars are just one of many large broods on TV. The “big family” format has proved popular in Europe and Australia (less so in China, where the one-child policy makes such families illegal). THR surveys the shows’ success.
Die Wollnys, RTL2, Germany
The Wollny family — matriarch Silvia, 49, and her 11 kids — are the country’s favorite trashy indulgence. The series, now in its fifth season, averages upward of 2 million viewers for the cable channel. Silvia is a proud Catholic, but she didn’t marry partner Dieter until the fourth season. Scandals have included allegations of welfare fraud and a fistfight between Dieter and a daughter in a McDonald’s parking lot.
17 Kids and Counting, Channel 4, U.K.
Billed as “Britain’s largest family living under one roof,” the Radfords run a bakery and live with their 16-strong brood. Unlike the Duggars, the Radfords aren’t conservative, and fans of Sue Radford, 39, praise her organization and cleaning skills more than her morals. Last season followed Sue preparing for a 17th child, which she lost to a miscarriage. A December episode drew more than 1.5 million viewers.
11 Kids and Wanting More, Lifestyle You, Australia
The controversy surrounding this reality soap has less to do with the number of kids Darren and Dale Chalk have than with how they were conceived. Using IVF, the Chalks birthed two sets of quads back-to-back, drawing fire from medical experts and the public for their alleged abuse of reproductive technology. Banned from fertility clinics, they used a private sperm donor to conceive again.
Mom’s a Medium, CMT, Canada
This hybrid series fuses the “big family” format with the paranormal subgenre. Mother Carmel Baird, 42, has six kids and three grandkids living under the same roof on her farm in rural Alberta. Between running the facilities and the family, she speaks to the dead and gives psychic readings to Canadian celebrities and rural folks. Season two is outperforming the primetime average by more than 30 percent.
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