Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Slam Amazon Docuseries as ‘Derogatory and Sensationalized’

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar — the heads of the reality-TV famous Duggar family — have spoken out against Amazon Prime Video’s recent docuseries “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.” In a statement posted on their website, the husband and wife referred to the four-episode docuseries as “derogatory and sensationalized.”

“The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love. Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format. This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days,” the statement said. “We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting. We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one. Through both the triumphs and the trials we have clung to our faith all the more and discovered that through the love and grace of Jesus, we find strength, comfort, and purpose.”

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The Duggars first became a household name in 2008 with the premiere of the TLC show, “17 Kids and Counting.” Over the seven years the reality series was on the air, its title grew with the number of children Jim Bob and Michelle had, finally ending with “19 Kids and Counting.” The series followed a family of devout independent Baptists as they let audiences into their crowded home life. Half educational, half a lightning rod for morbid curiosity, the series would come to define TLC’s edu-tainment brand, which took off in full force during the mid-2000s.

Yet as the Duggars gained more and more fame, their perfect family facade began to crumble. In 2015, the series was suspended after the family’s eldest son, Josh Duggar, admitted to molesting five girls, which included his own sisters. Shortly after “19 Kids and Counting” ended, a spinoff series titled “Jill and Jessa: Counting On” premiered. That was then cancelled in 2021 after Josh Duggar had been arrested for possessing child pornography. He was later convicted and sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Those scandals are just the tip of what “Shiny Happy People” covers. The docuseries dives into the teachings of the Institute for Basic Life Principles, the ultra-conservative church the Duggars joined as a young couple. Described as a cult, the religious sect prioritizes what the documentary refers to as “instant obedience” from women and children. IBLP’s founder Bill Gothard, was eventually forced to resign in 2014 when it was revealed that he sexually harassed multiple women and covered up several child abuse scandals in the church.

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The docuseries argues that Josh Duggar’s actions were an extension of the lessons he was taught by this organization. It also claims there was physical, psychological and emotional child abuse within IBLP and the Duggar household and that the church routinely exploited children for manual labor.

IBLP wasn’t the only organization that “Shiny Happy People” targeted. According to Jill Duggar, she and her siblings did not get paid for appearing in either of the TLC reality shows, including her own spinoff series. Instead of paying the children directly, the network said they paid Jim Bob Duggar. This remained the case for years after the Duggar children became legal adults.

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