Feb 2, 2021
19 Kids and Counting: A Plastic Sword Is Not "Cutlery"
This week on 19 Kids & Counting, Jessa and Ben get physical… and Jill tries to spice things up with Derick after admitting she’s been ignoring her wifely duties since she got knocked up.
It’s another double dose of Duggars this week. Episode #1 is here. Episode #2 starts now!
We start with a humble apology to the Duggars—ha, ha, no. This apology is to you, dear readers, for skipping an entire scene in Episode #1 this week. In my notes, it looked like Johannah’s ninth birthday was the first scene in Episode #2, but now I realize, to my horror and shame, the birthday party actually closed out the previous half-hour. Oh well, we’re all just human.
In my defense, the scene has absolutely nothing to do with anything that comes before or after it. Other shows would called it “filler.” Here, it’s called “the show.”
We start this recap, if not this episode, with Johannah turning nine years old. Being the first of four girls in a row—and right after six boys in a row—Johannah is sort of the captain of #TeamPrincess. She’s also a bit of a tomboy, we’re told. Which means, at nine years old, she’s already got twice as many layers as any other Duggar. (Two.)
Pa Duggar tells us there’s a birthday every month in the Duggar family, which is a lie, because none of them were born in February (because of black people) or June (because the summer solstice seemed a little too “pagan”).
Johannah is at a ranch with her family to go horseback riding for her birthday, so everyone gets plastic cowboy hats and bandanas. BANG! Right off the bat, Jennifer’s horse gets spooked and kicks the gate! Is she okay?! Yeah, she was roughly 50 feet away at the time. It’s not even clear she knew which horse had been assigned to her yet. The family tries to play this up as drama for the camera, and bless their hearts for trying, I guess. Normally they don’t even do that.
Johannah has a long, flowing dress that allows her to ride western style, which would appall Lady Mary from Downton Abbey in no less than two ways. She mounts her steed and is led around the barnyard.
Hey, it’s Cousin Amy! Still waiting for the public to get their shit together and demand she get her own spinoff, I guess. As she mounts her horse, she declares, “I’m gonna kick it, and I’m gonna make it gallop!” She’s led around the barnyard on a lead.
Grandma comes next. It takes her 20 minutes or so to mount the beast, but she’s still a sport. She’s led around the barnyard on a lead.
Various Duggars shout, “Happy birthday, Hanny!” into the camera, even though the show doesn’t air until five months later. And that’s the actual end of episode #1. I am so sorry to have deprived you of that previously.
Episode #2 begins with 19-year-old Ben walking into the Duggar home for breakfast while talking about “living on my own” for the first time in his life. Yeah, aside from the family that’s providing you with a roof, a bed, food, a job, money, a supporting role on a reality TV show, and a wife, you’re the very model of independence, champ. You’re just barely ahead of Josie on the self-sufficiency chart, and that’s only until she learns to wipe her own butt.
According to 12-year-old Justin, everybody used to look at Ben like, “He’s the guy going after Jessa. But now he’s like a brother.”
Ma Duggar assures us that there are “about 17 chaperones at all times,” so we can rest assured there’s no hanky-panky going on.
Much like last episode, we’re kicking off the show with a morning workout routine. This time, Ben is leading the team, which is always a red flag. “Working out with him is a lot of fun,” says Jessa, with all the inflection of a dirty joke that goes right over her own head.
“We wear workout skirts when we work out,” says 17-year-old Joy Anna, and sure enough she’s wearing a calf-length skirt that’s as modest as it is impractical. Rounding out the workout team is 14-year-old Jason, who’s allowed to wear pants, because only women need suffer for modesty’s sake. It’s in the Bible.
First up, Jessa has to push a pickup truck up the driveway. Ben hits a stopwatch, and Jessa completes the job in 38 seconds, or about twice as long as it’ll take Ben on their wedding night. Jason and Joy Anna each take a turn pushing the pickup truck as well, and while I’m sure it’s strenuous, pushing a heavy object one time for 38 seconds is entirely worthless as exercise, either aerobic or muscle-building.
Next, Ben gets the three sibs to run up a hill, one time. It takes even less time than the pickup thing. I suspect Jason gets a more vigorous workout any time he thinks he’s got a full 38 seconds to himself. But Jason sings his praises, saying, “Ben is a great trainer. He’s got that sort of iron fist.”
We cut away to 25-year-old spinster Jana, who is helping Jill make dinner for her husband—and she’s managing to do it without bursting into tears at her pointless, wasted existence, so good for her. “Our family is known for making tater tot casserole,” Jana says without a hint of shame. Oh, Jana, this is why you can’t find a man.
(If you care, Google tells me tater tot casserole is a pile of ground beef and green beans under a pile of tater tots and cheese, making it some sort of white trash shepherd’s pie.)
Jill knows better than to try that tater tot casserole shit. She’s making a dal bhat, a.k.a. Nepali lentils and rice, with sides of tarkari (vegetable curry), saag (curry spinach), and tomato pickle. Her full recipe is here, courtesy of People magazine, and it’s less complicated than I would have guessed, although still a hell of a lot more effort than ground beef, canned veggies, and frozen tots.
We get a flashback to Jill and Derick meeting for the first time in Nepal, and Jim Bob asks Derick, “So, is she the most good-looking girl you’ve seen in Nepal, because Asian women are ugly. Derick says yes, of course. What else would he say? “Top three”? “I like my women like FloJo”?
Back to the workout, which is actually turning into a workout. The team has arrived at the gym and is working with weight-lifting equipment. That’s not the usual for a bride preparing for her wedding day, but okay. Maybe Jessa is more worried about biceps than waistline, which would be kind of refreshing, although Occam’s Razor says she’s just an idiot.
“How much can you bench press?” the producers ask various Duggars.
Jessa: “Around 65.”
Pa Duggar: “Josie.”
Jinger: (gives a WTF face) “For real?”
Jason lifts what appears to be an empty bar five times, then it’s time for pushups. Jessa and Joy Anna do “girl pushups” on their knees rather than their toes. Okay, they’re all pretty impressive for once. Ben even shows off for the camera a little, pumping away well after the buzzer.
And that’s all for that subplot.
“What is dal bhat?” the producers ask various Duggars.
Jessa: Is it noodles or something?
Justin: Doll bottle?
Eh, the producers should have quit while they were ahead. Jinger’s face on the bench press thing was genuinely funny.
Back in the kitchen, Jana says she’s not used to working with so many spices or so many little dishes. Quantity, not quality, is the Duggars’ watchword in cooking as well as children. While Jana discovers a whole new culinary world beyond salt and pepper, a “Duggar Fact” pops up on the screen to let us know that family usually cooks 15 cups for rice for one dinner, and Josie gets the lash if she lifts her little bowl in her little hands and asks for “more.”
Jill confesses that she hasn’t been in the kitchen much since she got pregnant because the smells triggered her morning sickness—or “all-day sickness,” as she calls it. Fortunately, baby-making trumps home-making in the Duggar hierarchy of needs, so she won’t be stoned unto death.
Back at the Duggar compound, it turns out 12-year-old Justin and 6-year-old Jordyn are the unfortunate souls assigned to Jessa’s “Buddy Group,” which are teams of younger kids outsourced to an older one because hell if Ma Duggar has time to parent ‘em all. Today, the Buddy Group is forgoing its usual “how to be invisible” lesson and “not giving a shit” practice to go register for wedding gifts at the Walmart.
Duggar Fact: By the time all 19 kids get married, they’ll register for over 11,000 wedding gifts. Let’s see… carry the one… that’s an average of 579 items per kid. Which is both fucking ridiculous and understandable if you’re inviting 1,000+ people per wedding (because that’s fucking ridiculous).
What would you register for? “Peanut butter… bread…” says Josie.
Jessa and Ben’s actual list is not much better. Take a look at the actual registry here (h/t @MrRichPeoples). Most of the items left are hunting knifes, batteries, and duct tape… ah, to be young and in love. I just sent the happy couple a pack of Energizer Ds because the zebra-striped “Duck” tape is available in-store only. It’ll be worth every penny if I get a thank you card. I’ll keep you updated.
Since Jessa has never lived anywhere but home and Ben lives in a guest bedroom at the Duggar compound, neither of them own a single kitchen item. Forget the gravy boat; they’re starting from the ground up with plates, bowls, and silverware.
In the interview room, Jordyn says, “I scanned a lot of cups.”
Josie says, “I scanned a million jillion billion birdie—”
“You weren’t even with us,” interrupts Jordyn. Damn, girl—call a bitch out why don’t you. We can only assume the hair-pulling, face-spitting cat fight that ensued was left on the editing room floor.
While Jessa and Jordyn are filling up the kitchen, Ben and Justin are focused on what really matters—plastic swords, shields, and footballs. “I don’t know how Jessa’s going to take this,” admits Ben. Well, Ben, you apparently don’t watch the show. Predictably, Jessa doesn’t bat an eye. She calls it “give and take,” but it’s pure conflict avoidance.
The weird “Nepali” music signals that we’re returning to Jill’s house, and I have to put “Nepali” in quotes because it sounds more like 1982-era Wham! taking their best guess what Nepali music sounds like. Derick is home now, having driven himself home from work today, and he declares it “smelled just like my apartment back in Nepal.”
It’s kind of cool to see Derick eating in authentic Nepali fashion, rolling up little balls of rice with his fingers and dipping them into the sides. Jill gives it a shot, but it’s a tad too pagan for Jana—she’ll use a fork, thank you very much.
Derick says it tastes “just like dal bhat I would have had in Nepal,” and a good time is had by all. The end.