19 Kids and Counting RECAP: Watching Jill Grow Up... Again (S14:E12)
We’re taking a trip down memory lane this week on 19 Wacky Christians Fell Out of My Vagina, because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier than shooting an entirely new episode and we needed filler to stretch this season out one more week before the wedding.
So here we go, one full hour, “All About Jill,” a retrospective on Jill Duggar’s life so far.
Has Jill led an interesting life? Well, yes, actually. If this show were allowed to show us any of the crazy brainwashing “Quiverfull” cult shit this family has shoved down her throat, that’d actually make a pretty fascinating hour. But this ain’t a documentary, and the good stuff’s off limits.
Instead, it’s just more of the same excruciatingly dull “Oh my gosh, Jill is so wonderful, and family is so wonderful, and let’s make tambourines out of dried beans and paper plates” crap we get every week. This show is the Dick and Jane of television. Painfully repetitive, insultingly sanitized, plotless drivel. The worst of what emotionally stunted 1930s conservatives thought America was supposed to be like.
We begin at a bridal shower for Jill being hosted by her friend Venessa, whose name is only appropriately spelled in Redneckville, Arkansas, or a Game of Thrones novel. At the shower are a gazillion babies that Jill has had a part in delivering. Jill is allegedly studying midwifery, but she doesn’t seem to be in college so maybe it’s some sort of medieval apprenticeship program. She’s attended 70 births, the show says… but no nursing school classes as best I can tell. Eh, all science is just lies from the pit of hell anyway.
(Eldest daughter Jana—who I guess will officially become a spinster once baby sis Jill gets hitched—is training to be a duela because if you’re gonna let women work, it better have something to do with pushing out babies.)
Anyway, Momma Duggar is so excited by all the little ones at the shower she can barely squeak. I almost worry she’s going to have a stroke. We don’t really see her again so they may have had to lead her away in a straightjacket before she pulled a Raising Arizona. But before she goes, there’s a giant picture of a tree that all the guests are supposed to sign, and she writes the word “Mom” using a heart for the “o.” Fuck me, she really is an eight year old.
Now it’s time to start the retrospective. Jill was born at a very early age—sorry, stole that line from Steve Martin. She’s the fourth child and second daughter, which would have been a nice stopping point for most American families. Momma Duggar tells us Baby Jill never cried and always smiled and her eyes made the flowers bloom and a strand of her hair cured a St. Bernard of rickets.
We see photos of one-year-old Jill, three-year-old Jill, six-year-old Jill… and then a video clip of Momma Duggar starting a home school lesson in which she says, and I quote, that today they’re “learning about bankruptcy laws” and not one of those children is possibly over 10 years old at that point. But that’s not nearly as disturbing as what Momma Duggar is wearing, which I can only describe as “Mennonite dress with a Pilgrim bib.”
Second eldest son John-David tells us that Jill was a big ol’ snitch growing up, a real fuckin’ narc. Jana says, nah, Jill wasn’t really a tattletale, she just wanted to “keep us accountable.” Really, Jana? That’s what you’re going with? I think you’ve got some repressed childhood anger you haven’t come to terms with yet.
Momma and Daddy Duggar tell us that as their psychosis grew worse and they kept having more and more children, it was up to Jill to step in and start raising some of them. Ya think?! Two people couldn’t properly keep up with 19 puppies and they shit in the yard.
What one word best describes Jill? “Giver” says one of the younger kids. “Useful” says another, which pretty much the same thing but a little more on the nose. Holy fuck, this poor girl has been living in a Dickens novel.
We go to commercial, and… oh, hell yes. A Playtex TruSupport ad. Easily the best part of show.
Coming back, Joy-Anna tells us she can’t believe it’s almost time for Jill’s wedding! She’s at least the fourth person to say so, and she won’t be the last.
All the bridal shower guests brought recipes for two people because all of Jill’s recipes were designed to feed the French Foreign Legion. But that’s all just background noise because we’re quickly back in retrospective land.
Jill and Jana laugh about the time they had frizzy perms and giving all their sisters frizzy perm, but we never get to see any funny photos of frizzy perms so what’s the point of this shit. Then it’s Daddy Duggar’s turn to say he can’t believe it’s almost wedding time, and that shit just never gets old, let me tell you.
Next, we get some child-rearing tips for the masses. And when I say “masses,” I don’t mean the general public; I mean the masses of children you better be pumping out of your uterus if there’s going to be a point to our Heavenly Creator putting you on this planet, you little harlot. With 19 kids, you’ve got to assign the newer, lesser offspring so some of their older siblings. Jill was put in charge of Joy-Anna, James, and Jennifer as her “Buddy Team,” which is a fine enough euphemism for “forced servitude as an au pair to all these children we can’t possibly keep track of alone.”
Once Jill gets married, who’s going to step up as the new leader of the Buddy Team? Joy-Anna is pretty sure it’s going to be her, but James puts in a plug for John-David because he doesn’t have a girlfriend or any prospects or a life so why not? If James was saying any of this on purpose, he’d be my new favorite Duggar.
Momma Duggar tells us she can’t believe the wedding is almost here. Thanks for the update. Daddy Duggar talks about Jill having a servant’s heart, and I’ve always found it bizarre that evangelicals have romanticized the word “servant” while despising actual servants, you know, people who do menial jobs for money because they’re poor as dirt. Instead, they make “servant” into a voluntary out-of-the-kindness-of-your-heart thing that people do when they’ve got enough money and free time that they won’t miss either.
We see some video of Jill on a mission trip to Honduras, and Jill cries while waving goodbye to a friend she made among the locals. Huh, some genuine emotion. It’s kind of refreshing to see on this show, even if it’s just for a second. I never like watching people cry, but how much stilted voiceover of side hugs and arts & crafts projects can one person take?
Back home in the good ol’ USA, Jill and Jana take an emergency response training class with the local fire department. And they showed us that to show us this: Jason, somewhere around age 12, falls into the orchestra pit while rehearing for… something at a theater in Orlando. Holy shit, there’s screaming and blood and everything.
Jill rushes in to keep him calm and keep him from moving until the paramedics can show up and take him away on a back board. Good on Jill, but once again the show is back to its old tricks of sanitizing the scene of any real emotion. Daddy Duggar’s voiceover through the whole thing is chipper as can be as he talks about Jill’s bravery. He’s not choked up by the memory of his son’s injury or even particularly awed by Jill’s reaction. It’s just amiable chit-chat. See Jason fall. Fall, Jason, fall. See Jill respond. IF YOU CAN’T BOTHER TO GET EMOTIONALLY INVESTED IN YOUR PIECE OF SHIT SHOW, DADDY DUGGAR, NEITHER CAN WE.
What do you think Jill is looking forward to most about getting married? “Uhhhhhhhhhhh,” says Daddy Duggar, “How do I say this tactfully?” It’s clear what he’s thinking. His little girl wants the D.
And everyone else is thinking the same thing. Joy-Anna comes up with the appropriate euphemism: “The honeymoon.”
Grandma agrees: “Being alone on the honeymoon.”
Momma Duggar: “Not having a chaperone.”
And back to Daddy, who finally has figured out how to phrase things for the camera. Jill is undoubtedly looking forward to “the ceremony,” he says, while Derick is looking forward to “after the ceremony.” Because only guys wanna get laid, of course. Keep telling yourself that, Jim Bob. Everyone else I the family knows Jill is a randy little minx and she’s ready for a little nekkid sexytimes.
Immediately after this awkward conversation, we cut to a commercial for pills to make sex enjoyable again after menopause. I fucking laughed my ass off. Then, the commercial told its post-menopausal target audience not to use the pills if they’re pregnant—and I laughed my ass off again. Okay, maybe I’m just starved for entertainment this far into the show.
Back to the Duggars, we’ve got video of Joy-Anna being born and they show the nurse cutting the umbilical cord. AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH!!! What the hell, show?! We do not want to see that! I just watched my wife give birth three weeks ago today, and even I don’t want that on my TV screen. Yeah, it’s natural and miraculous, but so is a human spleen and I don’t wanna see one of those either.
Fast forward 13 years: a pregnant Momma Duggar is on the phone. “Is this Josh?” she says, because when you’ve got 18 kids and one more on the way, you can’t possibly be expected to recognize all of their voices. She tells Josh the good news (about the baby, not the messiah)… but then we jump forward a few months to Momma Duggar being rushed to the hospital. Josie is born 15 weeks early, weighing only 1 lb., 6 oz.
Okay, grading on the curve, this segment of the show is pretty good. Even though we know Josie is a healthy four year old now, the birth story is compelling and the photos of Jill holding and caring for the not-fully-formed ultra-premie are touching. We now have a grand total of three minutes of acceptable television so far this season.
Momma Duggar talks about how good and fearless Jill was with Josie, and how this led Jill to pursue midwifery, just not through a reputable nursing school. We’re treated to a montage of home births that Jill was a part of, including all three of her sister-in-law Anna’s deliveries… one of which happened on the toilet, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant-style. I’ll admit I was curious enough to look up what that was about. Apparently Anna was in labor forever without much progress until she decided to go for a poop, and out came baby.
It turns out this episode isn’t actually all about Jill because we do get one segment on fiancé Derick’s life to date. He was born and raised about 30 minutes from the Duggars, and he had only one sibling—a brother who he fought with like a normal family. Derick’s dad died suddenly when he was a freshman in college (he simply went to sleep and didn’t wake up), and that pretty much wraps up the segment on pre-Duggar Derick.
Derick got involved with the Duggars when he reached out to Jim-Bob to serve as his “prayer partner,” whatever the hell that is, while he was off in Nepal bringing the Gospel to the heathen natives. Jim-Bob took a shine to the young man and introduced Jill to him over internet video chat. And, yes, all their video chats were chaperoned lest some virtual hanky-panky break out.
Eventually, Jill tells her parents, “I think I’m in love with someone I’ve never met,” and requests a plane ticket to Katmandu. Momma and Daddy Duggar are like, “Sure! Sounds great!” because they’ve clearly already gotten the entire trip approved by TLC. This conversation couldn’t be any more faked if you could see the cue-card boy waving at the camera.
Daddy Duggar and Jill head to Nepal where Derick “enjoyed getting to give her a sidehug.” This guy’s going to last about 14 seconds on his wedding night. Just before Jill heads home to the states, Derick asks her to start an “official courtship.”
Derick’s mom informs us that this whole courtship ritual isn’t really a thing in their family, although she did encourage Derick not to date around because it was “expensive” to go “from girl to girl.” Romance is great and everything, but what’s really important is value. It’s much cheaper just to marry the first girl who gives you a little side-hug action.
Any advice for Jill before she gets her first ever kiss on her wedding day? “Ew!” says four-year-old Josie. “It’s gross!” Sister-in-law Anna is a bit more practical: “Short and sweet. And don’t miss.”
After another Playtex TruSupport commercial, we get to relive Derick’s coming home celebration. It’s been two months since Jill left him in Nepal, and he’s finally returning to Arkansas with his horizons broadened. Jill, family, and camera crew are waiting for him in the airport… Jill and Derick see each other… Derick breaks into a run… and smooch! Total girl-boob on man-boob contact! The full-frontal hug that shocked a nation.
They claim they both turned the same way when attempting a side hug, but we all know they’re just wanton lustful beasts who can’t control their respective boobage.
Two months later, it’s the scene I think they’ve shown in every episode this season. Jill and Derick enter a park, a douchey guitar player serenades them with a play-by-play of their relationship, and Derick pops the question: “Jill, will you submit to my authority for as long as we both shall live?”
“Yes, totally!” she says. And they hold hands for the first time.
Back in the present, it’s Derick’s turn to say how much he can’t believe the wedding is almost here. Then all the people at the shower attempt to suffocate Jill under a mountain of crying babies. She sits on the couch while parents position their squalling offspring beside her, behind her, on top of her. One photo later, and the shower is finally over.
“I can’t believe the wedding is only one week away,” says Jill.
Bastards just had to shove that in there one more time, didn’t they.