Oct 2, 2020
19 Kids and Counting RECAP: Jill's First Marriage (S14:E13)
The bastards started an hour early! The show’s half over by the time I tune in, which is distressing for two reasons. First, it means there’s two hours of this mess this week. Second, now I’ve got watch the 11/10 pm re-airing instead. The heartless, godless, liberal masses are depending on me to mocking the living crap out of Jill’s wedding for them, and I’m not going to be able to get started on this recap until the morning. Won’t someone think of the heartless, godless, liberal masses?!
Okay, take two.
This time, I flip over to TLC a few minutes early and am treated to a six-year-old boy dressed like a cowboy in the middle of an evangelical church singing something about “Getting’ Ready for the Roundup in the Sky,” which it turns out is not about weed killer but cowboy heaven, because it’s never too soon to get your child obsessed with death. I really should have known better than to watch even one more minute of TLC than I have to.
I’m apparently watching the end of Home Sweet Bus, yet another a reality teevee program about wholesome religious extremism. Three generations of this family live in a bus and travel around the country singing at the kind of churches that host Kirk Cameron film festivals. Suddenly I’m inspired to pray that this show never gets popular enough that I have to recap it, so whaddayano, it really did help my faith.
And onto the big show. Jill and Derick are getting married!!!
Jill kicks things off by telling us we’re 36 hours away from the “I do’s.” “It seems like it’s taken forever to get here,” she says. Amen, sister. And with two hours to fill, it’ll seem like another eternity before we get around to walking down the aisle.
In the reception hall at the mega church, the wedding planner is gathering all the volunteers together for a training session. More than 200 people have volunteered to help out, thinking maybe this’ll be their big chance to make it on the bewb tube. Too bad, suckers! The scene ends before the meeting even gets started.
(I’ve learned not to try to figure this type of pointless scene is included at all; that way lies madness.)
It’s 26 hours until vow time, Jill tells us. Holy shit, that volunteer meeting lasted 10 hours? I’m guessing the first four were instructions on how to hang the decorations and the last six were cleaning up the splattered brains of all the volunteers who offed themselves from boredom.
“Tell us how you met,” an off-screen producer instructs Jill. They to keep the producer unseen seen so angry mobs to hunt her down with pitchforks. They’ve recapped it EVERY EPISODE THIS SEASON, including an entire one-hour special retrospective last week! But Jill dutifully obeys (the ultimate in womanly virtues).
They took a walk! Some faux-John Mayer douchebag with a guitar was hanging out in the town square! He sang an ultra-literal song about their life!
Hey, are we not going to have to listen to the song? We’re just going to watch him singing under Jill’s voiceover? Thank you, thank you, thank you. I actually feel gratitude towards the show for this slight mercy, and I realize this is exactly how Stockholm Syndrome gets started.
We’re now 25 hours away, Jill says. I guess that flashback took a full hour.
Jill and Derick remind us they’ve only been engaged for three months, which isn’t much time to pull off a wedding, especially one with 1,500 guests. Jill describes the wedding theme as “vintage shabby chic” presumably because she isn’t entirely sure what those words mean. What she’s trying to describe is the random assortment of hokey wooden signs with wedding clichés on them and other Old Time Pottery clearance decorations. It’d be easy to dismiss it all as “cheap and tacky,” but I’ll be charitable and call it “rustic eclectic on a dime.”
Now we introduce the one and only plotline I care about. Derick’s mother is currently in the hospital recovering from chemotherapy for lymphoma. She hasn’t been seen—nor has her cancer been mentioned—since episode 1 of this season. That kind of reality no place in this sanitized teevee world. But now the show’s got no choice but to address the issue. We see some photos, and somewhere behind Jill looking cute in her scrubs and filter mask is a very frail, very ill woman.
Miss Cathy, as Momma and Daddy Duggar calls her, is not well enough to be discharged from the hospital tonight to make to the rehearsal dinner, and it’s up in the air whether she’ll be allowed to come to the wedding tomorrow.
In the interview booth, Derick plays up the drama of “will she or won’t she be able to come” without displaying any real emotion about it. It’s horribly crass. When a mom might miss her son’s wedding day because of cancer, there’s no need to hype this up like a melodrama. We’re ready to be emotionally invested without being so tactlessly pushed. Ugh.
I have to assume Jill and Derick’s interviews were actually shot after they returned from their honeymoon because they’re wearing different clothes than we see them in today or tomorrow before the wedding (plus Derick’s hair and beard look longer). So I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that, even though they’re talking about everything in the present tense, the actual emotion of the situation is long past for them.
Meanwhile, on stage in the mega church’s sanctuary, volunteers are putting the finishing touches on a gazebo-like structure made of white tulle. It’s pretty enough, but the rest of the cavernous room looks like an underfunded high school auditorium. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s old gum under all the pews. This maybe the most utilitarian-looking church I’ve ever seen, but I’m sure it’s because all the church’s money goes to feeding the poor and caring for the si—HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Then it’s time to arrange where all the bridesmaid and groomsmen will stand on stage. Everybody has an opinion, but we don’t get to hear any of them because the show rightly assumes we don’t care. Instead we just get to watch all the mild bickering from a distance. Wow, they’ve really captured the tedium of day-before wedding preparations. I can feel it from my living room. Reality TV lives up to the name for once.
Next, we get a story from 20-year-old Jinger, who tells us about Daddy Duggar hanging out in the Duggar daughters’ bedroom last night (the girls all share one 900 sq. ft. room), sobbing his poor widdle eyes out over Jill getting hitched. Creeeeeeeeepy.
Eldest son Josh notes that Daddy didn’t shed any tears when he got hitched and moved away. Yeah, and Daddy didn’t hand you the keys to a giant house he flipped as a wedding present, either. We see who Jim Bob really loves. Time to grab that rifle and head for a clock tower, Josh.
Back in the reception hall, volunteers are ditching up 3,000 cups of ice cream so they’ll be ready for root beer floats tomorrow. This was Jill’s one and only special request—that there be root beer floats at the reception. The stakes are high, people!
Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the float drama soon, I promise. But now it’s time for Daddy Duggar to practice walking Jill down the aisle. Jill takes off her shoes because she plans to go barefoot tomorrow. They make the “barefoot and pregnant” joke before I get to, but whatever, I don’t care, it was obvious anyway, grumble.
In an interview that got shoved into the middle of this scene because it had to go somewhere, Ben—who is courting 21-year-old Jessa—tells the TV audience, with Jessa sitting right next to him, that he’s going to propose in the not-too-distant future. Since getting engaged is the only topic of conversation Jessa and Ben have ever had, I worry that actually popping the question may kill the young couple’s passion chemistry tepid infatuation.
Holy fuck, what is that noise?! It’s the most bombastic wedding march ever performed by mortal hands. I almost start to worry the Phantom of the Opera is about to burst in and kidnap Jill for his own. This can’t be what they’re planning to play tomorrow, is it?
Daddy Duggar and Jill walk down the aisle, and we learn that he’s going to be the one who gets to say, “You may kiss the bride.” You know, lest there be any doubt about who is in control of this young woman’s body and giving the permission around here.
Derick says some of the younger kids have advised him out to practice the big kiss without actually touching lips, but he says that would defeat the purpose of restraining. Aw, it’s so cute, he thinks there’s purpose to restraining at this point.
Now, we’re less than 24 hours away. Momma Duggar is giddy, and Daddy Duggar can’t stop tearing up.
Suddenly, TRAGEDY STRIKES!
Someone left the door open to the walk-in freezer and all 3,000 cups of ice cream have melted. The wedding planner emphatically assures us she’s not going to tell Jill. She’ll fix it, damn it, because THAT’S HER JOB!
Step one to rectifying the situation, she decides, is leaving the freezer door closed so the ice cream can refreeze. Ewwwww… root beer floats are gross enough when you’re not making them with icy, reconstituted sludge. This is so not gonna go well.
Commercial time… and it turns out Ben will be proposing next week on yet another hour-long 19 Kids special. YOU MEAN THIS FUCKING WEDDING ISN’T THE SEASON FINALE?! I THOUGHT I WAS FREE!!! Stockholm Syndrome cured; I’m back to hating each and every one of these people.
We’ve made it to the rehearsal dinner, and Derick leads everyone in a prayer for his mom. In a voiceover interview, Josh helpfully informs us, re: the rehearsal dinner and wedding day, “These are big moments in Derick’s life.” Everybody up to speed now? This show isn’t getting too complex for you, is it?
Derick’s dad died when Derick was a freshman in college, and since the rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom’s family, they’re honoring Derick’s dad by serving his prized brisket recipe. It’s actually very sweet. (The gesture, not the recipe.)
Now it’s time for speeches and toasts. Daddy Duggar kicks things off by promising that Jill’s sisters and brothers are going to embarrass her with all sorts of secrets that Derick needs to know before they get married because, he says, “I don’t want there to be any surprises.” Really, Jim Bob? Then maybe they should see each other naked. What if Jill’s clitoris is three inches long and shaped like the Virgin Mary? That’s probably going to come as a bit of a shock.
Sadly, no secrets of any kind are revealed, clitoral or otherwise. All we learn from the toasts is that Jill’s family loves her, and Derick’s family loves him, and everyone thinks they’re perfect together.
Last but not least, Momma Duggar sets up the video reenactment of Jill and Derick’s engagement that the little kids made a few episodes ago. Four-year-old Josie is adorable as the cop who doesn’t recognize the happy couple and tries to block them from the town square because it’s closed off for an episode of My 19 Kids Better Be Just as Extremist As I Am Or I’ll Send Them Away to Brainwashing Camp For an Entire Season. Nine-year-old Johannah was servicable if uninspired as Jill, but I simply didn’t believe 10-year-old Jackson as Derick. His performance was wooden, and he brought absolutely no gravitas to the role. The producers should have held out for Nicolas Cage.
Anyway, “Jill” and “Derick” come across 11-year-old Justin as the douchey guitar player, and… fuck me, it’s the song. The actual song. Justin is just lip syncing along. “Well, you grew up about thirty short minutes down the street. But we had to go 8,000 miles away to meet.” Why, yes, you can buy the song online, and the Duggars do make money of it. What, you think that’s why they cram it into every damn episode?
The next morning, everyone returns to the church for hair and makeup. Jinger can’t believe how many times Daddy Duggar burst into tears after they got home last night. Gosh, you don’t think this guy has any hidden control issues about his daughters, do you?
Where in the Bible does it say a bride and groom can’t see each other before the ceremony? Nowhere, that’s where! Jill ain’t wasting time with that silly old tradition because she’ll be so much calmer and less nervous with Derick by her side. Okay, that’s a pretty nice sentiment so I’ll withhold the snark.
The wedding planner checks the ice cream, which has in fact refrozen but is a totally disgusting and unusable sludge. Well, duh. Whatever will they do?! They’ll scoop 3,000 more cups of ice cream, that’s what. The army of volunteers is on the job, and the crisis is averted. Whew. That was close.
What, that wasn’t the loose end from yesterday that you were most concerned about? You care more about that cancer lady than the root beer floats? Oh, huh, sorry, who would have guessed. Jill and Derick plan to call his mom during their morning devotion, which is some sort of prayer ritual they hold together every morning whether in person or on the phone. They plan to find a private room for that, so Daddy Duggar checks to make sure they’re taking a chaperone. Good call, Jim Bob—this is probably the moment they’ll succumb to their passions, in a church, with her entire family wandering around just outside the door, just four hours from when they’re biblically allowed to know each other biblically. Jill assures him that Joy-Anna will be there to keep an eye on things. Joy-Anna likes to watch, that naughty little minx.
They find a room for their devotion, but before they reach out to God the Father, they place a call to Cathy the Mother. Miss Cathy is excited, chipper, and putting on her makeup to head over to the church at noon. I’m genuinely happy for her.
Let’s talk dessert. There’ll be 30 wedding cakes cut into 3,000 pieces, plus 1,500 cupcakes as well. Ever notice that there’s nothing that makes food seem less appetizing than seeing it in mountainous quantities?
Now it’s time for everybody to get dressed. Jill trims Derick’s beard for him to make sure it’s just the way she likes it. He looks even more like Aaron Rodgers than ever.
Daddy Duggar shows up in a spearmint toothpaste-colored tie, which of course matches all the bridesmaids’ dresses, which of course are a color you’d never see in any other item of clothes outside a wedding.
Jackson is following Derick around telling him how nervous he looks. Derick does a good job of not popping Jackson in the face. Instead, Jill and Derick start using Jackson to pass notes back and forth to each other from their separate dressing rooms. “What are you wearing,” he asks. “Uh, khakis,” she answers.
Not, not really. The actual notes are sooooo incredibly boring. “Miss you!” she says. “Can’t wait to see you!” he says. I guess being homeschooled they never got the chance to practice writing mash notes. Hopefully neither of them asks the other to talk dirty to them tonight because creativity is not their strong suit.
Finally, Jill has on her wedding dress, and she looks stunning. The two littlest girls, Josie and Jordyn, are absolutely mesmerized, as is their five-year-old niece McKenzie (Josh’s daughter). Everybody oohs and ahhs, then they lead her outside where Derick is waiting to see her in the dress for the first time. He tells her how beautiful she is, and she tells him how handsome he is in his tuxedo. She doesn’t mention that his jacket is much too big, but he’s practically swimming in it. Whatever, he’s a dude and it’s just a rental. No one really cares what he looks like.
“The countdown is over as far as days go, and now it’s down to just minutes and hours,” Jill tells us. Helpful as ever, Jill.
Miss Cathy arrives, and she looks so much stronger and healthier than in the photos we saw earlier. She’s got kind of a Jane Curtin thing going, and she looks very dignified in her wheelchair. They keep her away from the auditorium from now because her weakened immune system can’t handle so many different people. Derick is going to wheel her in as he walks down the aisle to take his place on stage.
Everyone lines up outside the auditorium doors to begin the procession, except Jordyn is hiding against the wall, crying. She doesn’t want Jill to get married and move out. Awwww. Daddy Duggar does a good job of consoling her, and the chaotic march down the aisle begins. All the older Duggar girls are crying except for Jinger, that cold-hearted bitch.
Soon only Daddy Duggar and Jill are left. He cries and whines, and she plays the role of the adult. I suspect this is not role reversal but the way it’s usually been in the Duggar household. I’m suddenly wondering who is going to step up into the role of parent once Jill is away. Jinger and/or Joy-Anna might be in for a rude awakening.
The organist begins his cocaine-and-seizure-inspired wedding march—the same cacophonous version one we heard yesterday, with a flourish between every note. A barefooted Jill and her father start down the aisle, and up on stage, Derick begins to cry.
Daddy Duggar’s got one line when he gets to the front, and he manages to flub it. The preacher asks who gives this woman to this man, and Jim Bob says, “I do. NO! Her mother and I do.” Way to forget you’re married, Jim Bob.
The wedding proceeds as weddings do, and we get to hear a painfully long among of the service and vows. It’s as boring as any other generic wedding service. They only point of interest was listening to see if “obey” was in Jill’s vows. It wasn’t. Oh well, this marriage is doomed.
We here all the “repeat after me” stuff as they exchange rings, and then they light a unity candle. Now it’s Jim Bob’s big moment. He’s damn well going to have his time in the spotlight. If he has to give up ownership of this young woman, he’s going to milk it for all its worth. “You may kiss the bride,” he announces…
And here they go! Derick takes her in both arms. Jill immediately leans in for the kiss and misses!—but that’s only because Derick’s got something a little more spectacular in mind. He dips her and plants a passionate, closed-mouthed smooch on her lips.
They literally sprint back down the aisle out of the auditorium. Gotta go, gotta fuck!
Then they keep sprinting through the halls of the church. Um, aren’t you forgetting about the reception? I’m not sure where they end up because they simply disappear for a while.
In the interview room, Derick tells us they were “happy to have those moments after the ceremony without a chaperone. We enjoyed it.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.
Actually, maybe do say some more, because I’m not sure what we’re supposed to think happened. Presumably a little making out. Maybe not even that, because all the kisses we see between the couple from now to the closing credits are chastely tongue-free.
Back in the auditorium, Jessa starts to walk off stage with whatever groomsman she’s been assigned to, but Ben jumps up and rushes the stage. He ain’t tolerating this shit. He takes Jessa by the arm and walk her from the auditorium. There’s nothing particular aggressive about it, other than the fact that he does it at all. I want to point and laugh, but I’m more weirded out than amused. At least it becomes clear that he had cleared this plan with Jessa beforehand, and it wasn’t just a sudden burst of jealousy. Still.
We run through the various Duggars’ reactions to the first kiss.
Momma Duggar: “I thought Jill almost dove into the moment.”
Josh’s wife Anna: “Practice makes progress. And progress makes babies.”
Josie and Jordyn: “Have babies!”
Justin: “Be fruitful and multiply.”
First rule of 19 Kids Club, ONLY TALK ABOUT BABIES. There is nothing else anyone might ever want to hear about.
Derick and Jill reemerge, and we watch them cut the cake. Seen any other couple cut a wedding cake? It looked a lot like that.
Each of the kids tells us whether they ate a cupcake, a piece of wedding cake, a root beer float, or some combination thereof. Riveting stuff.
As Jill and Derick drive away, we learn Jill never got her root beer float.
Episodes 7-8: (INCOMPLETE)