Apr 30, 2020
19 KIDS & COUNTING: Another Wedding to Plan, Another Season to Mock
19 Kids & Counting launches its new season with Jessa planning her wedding, Jill getting knocked up, and the rest of the family barely existing in the background. Ah, the more things change
ZOMG, did you hear?? Jill and Derick asked for, BUT DID NOT RECEIVE ANY, Dr. Pepper at their baby shower!! This is what passes for Duggar gossip in the tabloids between seasons. But don’t worry—19 Kids and Counting is back to quench your thirst for glacial reality TV action and whitewashed religious extremism.
Our opening voiceover is slightly changed this season—new son-in-law Derick’s name has been added to the roll call of kids and Ma Duggar no longer asks “Have you lost count?” before bragging about delivering every one of them. (Adopting kids is for lesser women, apparently.)
It’s never too early for a flashback, so we kick things off by rehashing Jill’s wedding. Remember how much fun we all had? Remember how emotional Jim Bob was? Okay, great, that was a wonderful use of time.
In present day, Jill and Derick are putting the top layer of their wedding cake into the freezer to save for their first anniversary, should the marriage last that long. Hey, now that Derick’s gotten his willy wet, he just might get curious what it’s like to be with someone who knows what the hell she’s doing. In the meantime, 13-year-old James tells us, disgust in his voice, “Jill’s gonna be kissing.”
“And things like that,” 12-year-old Justin adds. “That’s just weird.”
You’re too old to think kissing is weird, Justin! Come on, kid… You’re in Arkansas and Cousin Amy’s reasonably cute… Get practicing.
Jill and Derick are, in fact, kissing—stealing pecks on the lips periodically as they fix some food and clean up the kitchen. There’s even a kiss counter in the corner of the screen. It’s reasonably cute.
Jill’s freezer is filled with frozen leftovers because she hasn’t quite got the hang of cooking for just two people yet. She also talks too loud because she’s a woman used to the constant background noise of roaming hordes of unattended children. We’re treated to a montage of Duggar children crosstalk so you can get a real sense of the hell Jill has just escaped.
Speaking of, it’s time to check in on Jessa at the Duggar Family compound. Don’t worry, we’re not recklessly going to dive into new material. First we have to rehash her entire engagement day. In voiceover, Jessa pretends to have been excited about the whole scavenger hunt thing, but at the time, she soooooo over that shit about 10 minutes into it.
Fun fact: Jessa is 22 years old, has lived at home her entire life, and has never held a real job. As a result, she’s incredibly easy-going. To say the least. It’s amazing what a complete absence of responsibility can do for your attitude. Fiancé Ben is in for a real treat.
Ben’s gets a taste of his future when the two of them sit down alone to start the wedding planning. They’ve got only two-and-a-half months before the big day. What’s our budget, Ben asks. Jessa has no dollar figure in mind; she’ll just always choose the cheapest option and let the numbers fall where they may. What’ll we do for decorations, Ben wonders. Reuse whatever Jill used, says Jessa.
Passive is an understatement. Oblivious is closer to the mark. Being one of 19 kids has taught her that decisions take care of themselves if you don’t bother to get involved in them. Of course she’s going to fall in love with and marry the first serious boyfriend that comes into her life; it wouldn’t occur to her she had the choice to do otherwise.
Suddenly it makes sense why she completely froze at the scavenger hunt. She couldn’t handle having to figure things out for herself. Jinger had to lead her by the hand. I’m very sad for Jessa right now. As mercilessly as I mock the Duggar kids, I’m not without sympathy for them. Hell, I was much older than 22 when I realized how much power I had over my own life. And I wasn’t even raised into a cult.
The scariest part is that Ben makes Jessa look decisive. He’s living in room provided by Jim Bob, working at a job provided by Jim Bob, marrying a girl provided by Jim Bob, and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being raised by Jim Bob from birth.
Ma Duggar comes in to see how the wedding plans are coming. Jessa tells her she’s thinking maybe a thousand guests… 1,300, tops… and there’ll be “no cake, no punch, no mints.” Even on her wedding day, she wants to be as unobtrusive as possible and minimize how many decisions might fall back on her.
Next, we take a field trip to the house where Jessa and Ben are going to live when they’re married. (No, they didn’t pick it out themselves, why do you ask?) The home is owned by Grandma Duggar, and it’s the same one eldest son Josh and his wife Anna moved into after their wedding.
A tour of the home reveals mold everywhere. Oh well, a few phone calls from the producers will turn up a company that’ll fix the problem in exchange for getting their logo on national TV, I’m sure. That’s how the Property Brothers do it, right?
We also get to see the toilet where Anna shit out her first kid, with the TV cameras rolling. Flashback time! Yep, that’s a toilet baby, alright. (But I’ve got no grudge against little Michael. Just don’t get me started on that snot-nosed booger-face Mackynzie.)
Returning to Jill and Derick, we’re out shopping for silly costumes for the four youngest girls to wear when they come over for a sleepover. Derick’s got no sisters and only one brother, so Jill considers this job training for the day he’s patriarch of his own litter of evangelicals. Just to remind us Jill’s mind is never far from her uterus, she makes a stop in the baby clothes aisle for a little sightseeing. Derick tells the camera he expects their new home to be filled with the pitter-patter of little feet soon, which he thinks will “give it some culture” (?).
Back at the compound, 17-year-old Joy-Anna just had her wisdom teeth removed, and the little kids are assigned to wait on her hand and foot. They stomp around like a herd of pygmy elephants, supplying her with ice packs, snacks, and all the noise Jill escaped. Joy-Anna is recovering in Jill’s old bed, which she’s claimed for her own, although what makes it better, I don’t have any idea, since all eight remaining daughters still share a bedroom.
With Joy-Anna laid up, it becomes obvious why the four youngest girls are being shipped off to Jill’s for a sleepover. Ma Duggar can’t possibly be expected to look after all her children at once, and Joy-Anna’s the one who had taken Jill’s role as second chair Mom.
Jinger scoops up kids Johannah-through-Josie in a sack, drops the sack on Jill’s doorstep, rings the doorbell, and runs.
The agenda for the sleepover is:
- Dress up like princesses
- Eat fondue
- Painting fingernails
- Bible study
- Go to sleep
It sounds like blast—if you’re a four-to-nine year old girl. And since they are, it is. Tiaras and tutus are pretty much can’t miss with that crowd. And it’s not clear if there’s any actual dinner fondue; we only see cupcakes and marshmallows being dipped into melted chocolate. Another easy win.
While they’re eating, the little ones start singing something called the “Dirty Dirty Dog” song—and let me stop you right there. As much as I’d love to jump on that horse and ride it for all its worth, I’m going to remind you that these are four-to-nine year old girls, so no. The “Dirty Dirty Dog” song gets a pass for now. (At least until Jessa sings it…)
Derick paints 4-year-old Josie’s nails, and it’s sweet.
“Derick’s really good with kids and just joining right in,” says Jill. Well, no shit, Jill—it’s pretty easy when the cameras are on. Let him spend a couple of hours with them at a Chuck E. Cheese with no recording devices, then you’ll see the real Derick.
Derick grins and says, “I enjoy spending time with little girls,” and I take it back: Don’t leave this guy alone in a Chuck E. Cheese with no recording devices, not now, not ever.
On to Bible study. Our verse for the night is Judges 5:26:
“Jael reached out her left hand for the tent peg, and her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. Then she struck Sisera and smashed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple.”
Ha ha, no, just kidding. We don’t get to see Bible study, which is too bad—I’d be curious what parts they teach the little ones and how. But, of course, anything I’d find interesting is strictly verboten on this show.
The next morning, Derick has already escaped to work before the little girls wake up. Josie somehow manages to find a trumpet and a pogo stick somewhere in the house, two things you never want a four-year-old to have access to. So if this really is job training for parenthood, it’s Jill who fails the test.
Back at the compound, Jessa is searching for bridesmaid dresses online.
Her colors are coral, navy, and gray—which are fairly bold picks, so good for her. Then she explains that the groomsmen are going to be wearing gray slacks, navy shirts, suspenders, and bow ties… Well, maybe it’ll look better in real life than in my head. I’m picturing a Civil War barber’s shop quartet.
There will be nine bridesmaids: three Duggar sisters, three of Ben’s sisters, and three friends. Jessa hunts for dresses with three must-haves in mind: coral, modest, and $50.
In the interview booth, the producer asks 4-year-old Josie what “modest” means, and she pulls her sleeve up to her shoulder. “It’s not modest,” she says. The little trollop.
Pa Duggar says, “In our family, we believe modesty is important for everyone. Guys normally wear jeans or pants or whatever.” Well, thank heavens for that.
Jessa finds a dress that meets all her criteria and is reasonably cute—at least in the photo. She places the order, and her first real wedding decision is made!
Jill and Derick have a big, surprise confession to make. They wonder how their families are going to take the news. The show tries everything short of creepy organ music and CGI lightning to make it sound dark and mysterious, but this show doesn’t do dark and mysterious. It does weddings and babies, and since this couple is already married, you can guess what’s happening now.
Jill decides they’ll ambush her family at Bible study that night. Which they do. Sort of. Ambushes are hard to pull off when you need an entire camera crew set up inside the house to shoot your arrival. Pa Duggar makes a show of being fake-surprised when Jill and Derick show up, but no one in this family is much of an actor. Everyone else just kind of sits there.
Jill and Derick join the Bible study circle and confess that they stole something from Ma Duggar yesterday. A pregnancy test. Ma Duggar keeps so many piled up in the bathroom that she’d never notice one missing, apparently. And of course, it came back positive. JILL AND DERICK ARE THE PROUD PARENTS OF A PRE-BORN AMERICAN CITIZEN!!! HURRAY!!!
“Jill and Derick are going to have a baby!” squeals Ma Duggar to Josie and any dogs within a half mile.
“They work faster than we do,” says Pa Duggar. “They may end up having more than you,” he taunts his wife.
Jill took the pregnancy test yesterday, and tomorrow is their “one-month anniversary,” so she’s guesses it’s a honeymoon baby. Since zygotes are people too, there’s no reason to wait to make the announcement. (It’s been just under one year since Jill first met Derick, for those of you keeping track on your calendars at home. Hey, maybe there’s hope for poor spinster Jana yet.)
How many kids will Jill end up with?
“Ten!” guesses Josie.
“Seventy!” says Johannah.
Pa Duggar agrees with Josie that ten’s a pretty good average for his various offspring to fill their quivers with. “It’s very likely they might have ten each, which would be 190 grandchildren, which would be really amazing,” he says. Because who wants to be able to remember the names of all your grandkids, right? Fuck personal relationships. That shit’s for whiny liberals with their participation trophies and self-esteem workshops. Numbers are all that really matters.
Next week, Jessa picks out a wedding dress… And the recap is here!