Oct 14, 2020
19 Kids and Counting: The Pot Pie Is Delicious, Everything Else Sucks
Today on Chopped… Two Duggar boys must cook dinner for 20 people using these basket ingredients: chicken, steak, cheese, and pie crust.
It’s the second half-hour of a Duggar double header. Episode 1 is here. Episode 2 starts now!
We’re in the kitchen with 14-year-old Jason and 13-year-old James, baking pot pies. Only we’re using casserole dishes instead of pie pans because there are so many mouths to feed. And if the boys are successful, there’ll be an even larger crowd. This is a trial run for Jessa and Ben’s rehearsal dinner.
“If Ben and Jessa like the pies, we could be cooking them for hundreds of people,” says James, adding a deadpan “Yay.”
Assuming the giant pies work out, cooking the rehearsal dinner will be the two boys’ wedding gift to the happy couple. Pretty cool gift idea, actually. Jessa likes chicken, and Ben likes steak, so we’re making a giant pie of each.
James is using kitchen shears to snip the chicken into bite sized pieces as it sizzles in the pan, which is the first genuinely useful thing I’ve learned from this show. I’m totally going to start doing that. Ma Duggar says the boys cook like they’re in a garage, not a kitchen, which is pretty much true. There’s grease everywhere, and I hope no one’s wearing clothes they care about.
A couple of the younger girls are helping with the pie crust, cutting it into hearts and stars for the top. “For the stars in their eyes,” squeaks Ma Duggar.
If I seem surprisingly positive about all this, well, it’s actually one of the best ever scenes on the show. It’s not a good scene, not by a long shot—there’s repetitive and unnecessary voiceover of various Duggars telling us over and over again that this is a trial run for the rehearsal dinner—but there’s a clear point to the action, there are stakes, there’s uncertainty, and the video is assembled in linear fashion to contribute to the narrative (as opposed to, “The Duggars are cooking in this scene; just throw together random shots of Duggars cooking, scrapbook-style, so the screen’s not black).
I doubt the producers have suddenly figured out how television is supposed to work (and, in fact, the rest of the show proves they haven’t), so I’m going to guess that it’s merely the step-by-step nature of cooking that forced these blind squirrels to a pile of less-than-rancid nuts for once.
Whew, glad that’s over.
Now we’re off to D.C. to visit the execrable McKynzie, five-year-old snot bubble and my personal nemesis. The sound of me choking on my own bile drowns out whatever it is McKynzie says to start the scene, but three-year-old Michael immediately interrupts her to say, “NO! Daddy and me are the best cooks in the house!” Yeah, you tell her, champ!
Josh—eldest Duggar son and father of three—wants his kids to appreciate music, so he’s taking McKynzie and Michael for lessons at a music shop. Teaching them music, says Josh, “opens up a Pandora’s box of opportunity.” I guess Ma Duggar didn’t spend a lot of time on Greek myths back in Josh’s home schoolin’ days.
McKynzie’s apparently got a violin lesson scheduled, and a Duggar Fact pops up on screen to let us know that that the various Duggar kids and grandkids have spent a collective 20,000 hours practicing violin. Holy crap, that’s an actual fact about the family and not just a random statistic multiplied by 19 (“If all the Duggar children laid a dozen eggs, they’d have 228 eggs.”)
Anyway, McKynzie rosins up her bow and plays her fiddle hard, ‘cuz hell’s broke loose in D.C., and Obama deals the cards. Wow, does she suck. Just horrific. GET OFF THE STAGE! I mean, sure, we only hear her play a single note, but it was a lame note. Like probably an E flat or something. Total crap.
Josh and Michael are toying around with some instruments, and Josh starts talking about Beethoven and Bach playing music when they were just three. “Hey, buddy, you could be the next… one of those guys,” he says. The half-second when he totally blanks on the name of a third composer is sheer awesomeness. The editor who stuck that soundbite in the show is a total dick, and I thank him for it from the bottom of my heart.
Oh great, McKynzie is back. *exasperated sigh* She and Michael immediately gravitate to the drums. See what a bad influence she is on him?!
(How do you know you’ve got a drummer at the front door? He never knows when to come in. How do you get a drummer to leave your front door? Pay him for the pizza.)
Josh knows kids and drum sets are a bad idea, so he—
WE’LL NEVER KNOW. The scene ends there. I hope you can live with the suspense.
Back at the Duggar compound, Ma Duggar announces lunch over the PA system. Holy shit, they have a PA system to announce lunch. The giant pot pie casseroles are served. Jessa assures us they’re amazing.
Five-year-old Josie agrees: “I was like, yummmm, yummmmmmmmm, yum, yum, yum, yummmmmmmm!”
Six-year-old Jordyn adds her two cents as well: “I was like mmmmm, yum, yum, mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm, yummmm, yummmmm!”
Thanks, girls. Very helpful. I feel like I can almost taste it now. Looks like the boys are on the hook for cooking rehearsal dinner.
Later, Ben heads to Wyatt Jewelers to give the owner another blow job exchange for Jessa’s wedding band. Figuratively, of course. (Probably.) The Duggars get all their fine jewelry here, always on camera, and always mentioning the name of the store about 56 times. Sure, it completely flies in the face of the frugality the Duggars preach everywhere else, but show me where in the Bible it say anything bad about being a hypocrite.
Mary then took a perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. But Judas Iscariot, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” And Jesus said, “Dude, it’s cool. It’s total product placement. We just have to mention ‘Wyatt Anointing Oils’ three times in the Book of Matthew.”
Ben has a bunch of sketches for a customized band he’d like Mr. Wyatt to make Jessa. Why, yes, that’s totally a service we provide here at Wyatt Jewelers, plus free sizings and layaway! Mr. Wyatt just needs the engagement ring to make sure they fit nicely together. Ben did not think of that.
At the Duggar compound, 25-year-old Jana and 17-year-old Joy Anna are trying to get all the little ones dressed for a trip to the flower store. This is best accomplished before they’ve woken up and you can just jam their sleepy bodies into whatever the hell you want, says Joy Anna. But it’s too late for that now.
Twenty-one-year-old Jinger’s phone rings. It’s Ben asking if she can grab Jessa’s ring and run it down the jewelry store for him. No problem. Jessa hands it right over, no questions asked. Talking to the camera, Jessa explains that Ben’s been all secretive about the wedding band, and she thinks it’s sweet so she’s willing to go along with whatever. Which is pretty much her M.O. anyway.
Jinger shows up at the jewelry store and is excited to get to see Ben’s sketches. We, however, don’t get to see shit. (Other than one quick glance of a massive, manly, Godfather pinkie ring-sized monstrosity.) They pick something. Screw you if you want to know what.
End of scene.
Let’s compare this to the cooking plotline at the start of the episode. We had James and Jason performing a clear task: cook pies. We knew their goal: to impress Jessa and Ben. We knew what was at stake: getting to cook the rehearsal dinner. We knew their emotions: nervous about failing—and also nervous about succeeding, giving the scene and the characters a hint of complexity. Then we watched them carry out their plan, and we got a clear resolution—Jessa and Ben loved the pies.
Now the wedding band plotline. What’s Ben’s task? To choose Jessa’s wedding band design. Okay, that’s a fine task. What’s his goal? To amaze Jessa. No, wait, that’s a long way down the road. The only goal here is to complete the task, which means NOTHING is at stake. If he doesn’t choose a band today, he’ll come back tomorrow. The jeweler will still have plenty of time. Jessa won’t be upset; she won’t even know. There’s no ticking clock and no emotional urgency. Speaking of emotion, how does Ben feel about all of this? No fucking clue. He doesn’t seem anxious, or excited, or hopeful, or anything really. He’s just doing a chore. Lame. Do we watch him carry out his plan? Nope. They look at the sketches without letting us in on what’s going on, and then they announce that the task is complete. Super lame. How about a clear resolution? Hell, no. We have absolutely no idea what was decided.
And that’s the typical Duggar plotline.
That’s why—beyond the family being a bunch of wacko, bigoted religious extremists—this show sucks great big tyrannosaurus cock. Gay tyrannosaurus cock. (Not that that makes it worse. I just know they think it’s worse.)
Believe it or not, our half-hour isn’t over yet.
We cut away to FLOWERAMA. Jessa tells the nice lady behind the counter that she needs bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and all that jazz. What color, the lady asks. It’s like she just shined a spotlight in Jessa’s giant doe eyes.
She doesn’t know what color. She doesn’t know what kind. It’s clear that it never even occurred to her that these questions might come up. Off-white or maybe light pink, Jessa eventually stammers.
Fortunately, forty-thousand sisters are in tow to help out. They’ve all come to FLOWERAMA for a bouquet-making class, which has clearly been arranged in advance, although not mentioned previously. Jinger shows up just in time, and the older girls are paired up with the younger ones to arrange flowers.
“Our parents have encouraged us to get as many life skills as we can,” Jessa tells the camera. Apparently bouquet arranging counts as a “life skill” in Duggar world. If you care, you start with two middle flowers and then start wrapping the other flowers around them. If you’re using roses, blow hard into the middle of the bloom to get them to open up a bit. When Jessa does this, she somehow chokes herself. Maybe this life skill is a tad advanced for her.
“These last moments together as sisters are bittersweet,” says Jana, who may or may not think Jessa is dying. Maybe this explains why she’s still a spinster.
Jessa think it would be good to have a florist in the family because there’s at least 16 more Duggar kids to get married after her. Business Administration is probably not a life skill she’s going to acquire any time soon either. And somehow, that’s the big finish. FLOWERAMA!