19 KIDS & COUNTING RECAP: If you can't try foreplay, why not try gun play? (S19:E2-3)
Imagine my excitement when I found out that regular episodes of 19 Kids & Counting are only 30 minutes long! Imagine my horror when I realized they play two new episodes each week back to back!
Last week’s season premiere was an excruciating full hour, which I assumed was standard. Then there was about 10 beautiful minutes this week when the sun was shining and the birds were chirping and the chipmunks were fucking and all was right with the world… lasting from the time I saw that episode 2 was a mere half hour until I noticed episode 3 immediately followed. It was shortly thereafter that I began cutting myself.
Episode 2 kicks off with Jessa and Ben preparing for a date at the shooting range while Jill and Derick get ready for a birthday outing on a hiking trail. I wonder if sisters 2 and 3 have always been the stars of the show or if this season is centering around them because of their romances. As best I can tell, anyone who wants screen time better be talking about our courting couples or they can find themselves a great big bowl of dicks to eat.
“I love you,” Jessa says to Ben the moment he walks in the door. They side hug, and then it’s off to the pickup truck with 14-year-old Jason in tow as chaperone. Kiddo has to ride in between the two lovebirds lest a sudden turn to right lead to some accidental side boob grazing. The ride to the shooting range is entirely dominated by “Once we’re married…” chatter, with Jason happily chiming in.
We cut over to Jill, who is celebrating her 23rd birthday with fiancé Derick and counting down the weeks ‘til they’re finally able to see each other naked (11!). Thirteen-year-old James is chaperoning, because an entire camera crew watching their every move isn’t enough to make sure these two soon-to-be married 20-somethings don’t blow off the hiking and go find a no-tell motel for some light pecking on the lips. James bellyaches about being carsick the entire car ride to the trail, which only feels like it takes forever.
Once we reach the trail, Jill and Derick are determined to hold hands the entire time, which is difficult enough to do while hiking even if you know how to hold hands correctly, which they don’t. How fucking virginal do you have to be not to know how to let your arm go loose while holding someone’s hand? Instead, they both keep their hands at shoulder height, elbows bent 90 degrees, like they’re mid-air arm wrestling the entire time. Which means every time they’re walking on a slope or around a bend or on a narrow path where they can’t be side by side (which is the whole time because that’s what hiking is), they’re jostling each other like they’re each trying to pry the last KitKat bar from the other’s hand.
We break away from both happy couples for a few minutes to accompany 7-year-old Jennifer to the eye doctor to pick out glasses for the first time. Momma Duggar refers to Jenny as “stoic,” and that’s a pretty good description because we get no hint of reaction whether the kid is thrilled or horrified or nervous or what. Nor do we get to watch them shop for glasses, which could have been played up for comic potential, but instead we watch Jenny put on the one pair of purple eyeglasses the family has clearly already decide to buy… and scene. Now I’m not above making fun of a 7-year-old little girl to get a cheap laugh, but the truth is she looked pretty damn adorable in glasses. Good for her.
Over at the shooting range, Jessa is first to discharge her weapon. She does pretty well, judging by how much the shooting range instructor and Jason hype up the pressure on Ben. You’re not some quinoa-eating pussy, are ya, Ben? Go show that girl how a real man shoots his gun. And this is the first moment of genuine (if EXTREMELY mild) drama of Season 19. We have a character facing a challenge with an uncertain outcome while other characters are making clear the stakes. Can Ben outshoot a girl, or will he lose face in front of the woman he loves? BAM! BAM! BAM! The shots are fired… The target is examined…
And yep, Ben is a total sissy loser.
Of course Jessa is totally sweet about it and gives the whole “I bet he let me win” speech even if that’s lying and lying is a sin. Yay, happy ending. With some better editing, there might have been an actual worthwhile scene hiding in the raw footage somewhere.
Meanwhile, on the hiking trail, “I think Jill and Derick are a good match because Jill always wanted someone that’s tall and Derick fits that description pretty well,” opines James. Ah, live and love through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy. Pretty soon, Jill and Derick are sitting down to lunch at a scenic overlook along the trail. What’s this? Hummus and couscous?! Sounds like terrorist food to me. James is likewise skeptical, giving Jim Carrey a run for his money with his rubber-faced expressions. And that’s apparently our big finish because those are credits on the screen.
On to episode 3!
Jill and Derick are at a cake tasting for their upcoming wedding. “This is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning because you get to eat a lot of cake,” Derick helpfully informs us. Jill says she leans towards vanilla, which is obvious given her choice of husband.
Oh noez!! Jill and Derick like two different kinds of cake! Except that neither of them really care so there’s nothing to work out here (at least not on camera). We’re not even told who liked what so we’re left completely in the dark who won or if they compromised or what. In the end, they pick a French vanilla cake with strawberry filling and an off-white buttercream frosting. Off-white, huh? I guess that cake was a bit of a hussy before the wedding.
Off in Washington, DC, oldest child Josh’s wife Anna is making and decorating stepping stones for the back yard with their three young children. How you make a stepping stone, I have no idea, but it involves some sort of goop that “looks like cookie dough but don’t taste it,” says four-year-old Mackynzie. How precious. The other two kids are Michael and Marcus so they apparently kept up the stupid “M” thing for another generation.
Quickly we’re back in Arkansas, where Momma Duggar is taking Jill and Derick around to look at potential wedding locations. Option one is a classy outdoor venue called Magnolia Gardens, but it only holds a maximum of 300 people so we’re wasting everyone’s time. (The guest list is 1,500.)
And we ping-pong back to Washington, where the little tykes are setting their names and handprints into the stepping stones. Except precocious Mackynzie doesn’t like getting her hands yucky. BEAT HER! BEAT HER WITH ROCKS!
Hey, it’s Arkansas again. We’re touring Spring Hill (or maybe Spring Dale?) Country Club, but the Duggars just “aren’t country club people,” says Momma so again we’re just wasting everybody’s time.
And now we pick up a new plotline back at the Duggar homestead. Daddy Duggar has ordered three soapbox derby cars for the kids to put together and race. Opening up the cartons, they quickly realize that wheels aren’t included. Oops. So racing the cars is out, but we can still race to see which team completes their cars first!
“The idea of building them sounded fun until we started to do it,” says 13-year-old James, summing up every arts-and-crafts project my dad ever forced me into as father-son bonding. And much like my own dad, Daddy Duggar gets three and a half hours (!) into building the soapbox derby cars before realizing he’s taught all three teams to install the axles on the top instead of the bottom of the frames.
As all the cars are disassembled again, 10-year-old Jackson and 7-year-old Jenny wisely wander away. But soon the frames are flipped over and construction is starting again, nearly from scratch. An unknown number of hours later, the first of the wheel-less, non-functioning cars is finished! JOSEPH WINS!
Wait, who the fuck is Joseph?! Wikipedia says he’s 19 years old and the seventh child. But I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’d seen him all season, so who gives a rat’s ass.
Okay, back to the great wedding venue search. Last on the list is Cross Church, one of those evangelical mega churches easily capable of seating 1,500 people on the floor level alone. Gosh, do you think these kids might be interested in being married in a church?
And it’s not just any church. This is where Ma and Pa Duggar got married in 1984. It’s such a fucking obvious choice that it’s clear our previous venue visits were perfunctory, at best. After a nanosecond of soul-searching, Jill and Derick make their decision: Las Vegas.
No, it’s the damn church, of course.
So now I’m three episodes in, and I still haven’t figured out which of the Duggar kids is going to turn out to be gay. The numbers say there’s gotta be at least one. Maybe Jennifer. Girls can’t be stoic, can they? Clearly a lesbian.