Jun 11, 2020
19 Kids and Counting: Getting Toasted with Jessa and Ben
It’s the rehearsal dinner time on 19 Kids & Counting. As Jessa and Ben count down the final hours before the wedding, brownies get baked, make-out opportunities get wasted, and the happy couple gets toasted.
“Today is the day before the big day, and I’m about to marry the love of my life,” announces Jessa. She says she’s super excited but trying to stay calm, and I’ve gotta say, she’s doing a bang-up job of it. I’ve seen more excitement at a Josh Hartnett film festival.
The pastor who’s performing the ceremony has called the couple in for a perfunctory pre-wedding counselling session. For some reason, Ben calls him “Pastor Mike” and Jessa calls him “Mr. Schadt.” I guess Jessa knows her place.
Apparently Pastor Mike (as I call him since I self-identify as male) is a bit of a celebrity among the hyper-evangelical movement for founding SOS, which is not the same SOS as last episode, but a “convert the brown-skinned heathens” organization that is definitely a better place for your tax-deductible donations than, say, clean water, basic medicine, and economic development. After all, once they become Christians, those other problems will simply go away thanks to the grace of our almighty creator. Just look at the U.S. Or Liberia.
Hey, where did this soap box come from and how did I get on top of it? Sorry, I’ll save the sermonizing for Pastor Mike. He’s got some great Biblical advice, such as just fucking kiss each other already. He assures us “it’s not in the Bible” to avoid a vigorous pre-marital makeout session in the back of a 1986 Chevy Nova (which is of great relief to me personally) or even to avoid kissing at all. After all, no one wants to see this at the altar:
“Hopefully, I’ll know how to do it right,” Ben says. “I’ve seen a few movies.” I bet you have, Benny-Boy. Just a heads up though, even non-virgin girls won’t do some of that stuff you see online.
“We’ve been getting a lot of advice. ‘Let me show you how it’s done,’” Jessa says. Hey, she got my email! “My dad always says it’s not that hard. You kids’ll figure it out.” Yeah, that’s kind of why abstinence only education doesn’t work, but whatever.
Next, the producers line up the Duggars in the interview and ask them to describe Jessa and Ben in one word.
Ma Duggar: Cute.
Jill & Derick: Fun.
Pa Duggar: Dedicated.
Lisa Simpson: Cromulent.
Louis Carroll: Tulgy.
William Shakespeare: Dewberries.
Over at the Bentonville First Baptist Church, Sierra the Wedding Planner is meeting with a small army of volunteers from among the 1,300 guests expected the following day. She’s asking them to sign up for various work crews, such as manning the registry table, handing out programs, and keeping Kirk Cameron the hell away from the camera crews.
The most popular crew is sundae servers, which is a good thing, because Sierra needs 72 of them. True story: there weren’t 72 people at my wedding, including the caterers.
Over in the church gymnasium, Momma Seewald is preparing for the rehearsal dinner, where more than 200 people are expected. She’s trimming roses for the centerpieces and telling the camera, “This is our chance to say goodbye.” You know he’s not dying, right? Hell, he’s not even the one changing his last name.
“I can’t believe that tomorrow I’m actually getting to marry Ben Seewald,” says Jessa. I wish I’d kept a “can’t believe” counter this episode, because I bet it’s like the fifth time already. “I can’t believe Jessa’s about to move out,” “I can’t believe I’m about to give away another daughter,” “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” What a family of non-believers.
Ma Duggar tells us, “Jessa has really tried to stay on budget for her wedding.” Wait, when did Jessa ever have a budget in mind? She blew off Ben when he asked for a dollar figure. Last we saw, she was simply picking the cheapest option for everything and hoping for the best. Kind of the same way she chose Ben.
Sierra is in the kitchen, getting the brownie brigade going. They’re making 1,500 homemade brownies for the sundaes, requiring 544 eggs, in case you care.
How would you describe Jessa in one word, the producers want to know.
Yeah, “simple” and “special” sound about right. Because the word “retarded” will get you in trouble with Sarah Palin.
Ben is explaining once again that they’re having a sundae bar instead of a wedding cake. “Cake is not as refreshing. Ice cream, it’s cold and moist,” he says. Ew, stop talking.
Various Duggar kids answer the questions, “Cake or ice cream?” They all say ice cream, except five-year-old Josie, who says, “Ice cream and macaroni and cheese.” Somebody better tell Sierra to start boiling water.
Ben says, “Tomorrow is definitely one of the most important days of my life. I mean, it’s my wedding day. It’s, like, a milestone.” Yeah, thanks for the insight. Didn’t I tell you to stop talking?
Jinger tells us that the happy couple don’t seem to be nervous. Or excited, or interested, or interesting, she fails to add.
For some reason, Jessa says she has 11 bridesmaids, but Ben says he has 10 groomsmen. Maybe he’s not counting the best man?
Pa Duggar says he’s going to try not to blubber as much as he did at Jill’s wedding. “It’s a little scary giving them away to another man, but I just know it’s God’s will for their life,” he says. After all, the whole point of their existence is to make babies, and people would frown upon it if they were his. He knows; he’s asked around.
It’s rehearsal time. Jessa and Pa prance down the aisle together while Ma Duggar tells the camera, “I think Jim Bob is feeling a lot of emotions He’s about to walk his second daughter down the aisle.” Wow, you’re almost as insightful as Ben.
When Pastor Mike asks who gives this woman away, Pa Duggar says, “We all do,” gesturing to the family, which is think is kind of nice, but it’s WRONG. Sierra is quick to tell him the correct line is, “Her mother and I do,” which I suppose is still a step above, “Me! She’s mine! I own her!”
Ben tells the camera that he totally doesn’t give a shit what Pa Duggar says or any of the rest of it. The pageantry isn’t important to him; only the poontang at the end of the night. “Jessa might be a little more concerned with it,” he says. “I hope it goes well for her.”
On to the rehearsal dinner, where the Seewald family is providing 200 lbs. of chili. For 200 people. That’s too damn much.
Grandma Duggar tells us she was married to Grandpa for 48 years before he passed away. The secret is sacrifice, she says. Mostly small animals, but occasionally a sheep or goat. The Seewalds have set up a table of remembrance with photos of Grandpa Duggar and Michelle’s father as well, which is very sweet.
It’s time for the toasts. The generically handsome Poppa Seewald is first to take the mic, and he gives a pretty generic dad speech. Pa Duggar is next; he starts off with the traditional “two families coming together” stuff, then segues into flattering the two soon-to-be mothers-in-law, and it’s actually a pretty nice toast. Damn it. Help me out here, Jim Bob—I’ve got a humor column to write. Can’t you at least drop in one creepy demand for a grandchild before the year is out?
Maid-of-honor Jinger takes the mic and quickly tears up.She can’t talk at first but eventually spits out a touching toast about Jessa always being there for her. Since neither of them are allowed to leave the house or have their own bedrooms, I’m not sure how much choice Jessa had in the matter, but it’s a nice speech anyway.
Then it’s Ben’s turn to say a few words. The sound quality takes a sharp turn for the worse, but the show has never worried about quality before, so why not air 30 seconds or so of what sounds like Ben talking over a jet engine? I couldn’t tell you what he said, but I guarantee you it was pointless.
Jessa’s audio is only slightly better. “Going from a house of 20 people to a house of two will be really strange,” she says. It’ll almost be like she’s not in a crazy cult family at all!
And on that informative note, hour one of the Jessa Duggar wedding extravaganza is in the books! Here’s Part 2!