Jun 18, 2020
19 Kids and Counting: Say No to the Dress!
It doesn’t take much for 19 Kids & Counting to roll out an extra special hour-long episode. In fact, last season we had nine weeks of hour-long episodes and just four weeks of half-hour fillers. Considering “Jessa burns the rolls” is pretty much all it takes to fill 60 minutes, I want you all to take a moment to consider just how lame the assembled footage has to be before the producers pull a Sarah Palin and say, “Fuck it. Let’s just quit halfway in.” That’s the level of suckitude we’re dealing with this week.
Half-hour episode #1 is here. Half-hour episode #2 starts now…
Open on Bentonville, Arkansas, which was taken away from the Osage people, had the Cherokee people marched across it as part of the Trail of Tears, served as a staging point for the separatist army fighting to keep black people in slavery, and is now home to Walmart’s world headquarters. American history, everybody.
Jessa and fiancé Ben are taking a tour of the First Baptist Church, where they will enter into lawfully wedded bliss. The women in charge of the tour are pretty gleeful about the largest wedding in their church’s history, what with somewhere north of 1,000 guests expected, until Jessa drops the surprise bombshell that they’re planning on hosting the reception there as well. The church’s gymnasium can only hold a tightly packed, standing-room-only crowd of about 500, the women warn.
The conversation is dropped for now as the tour enters the sanctuary. They have pews!!! Jessa is so excited. If you don’t get why she’s excited about pews, you don’t attend an evangelical mega-church with stadium seating and its own Starbucks (inevitably called “He-Brews”).
The church may be quaint enough to have wooden pews, but Ben is most excited to discover an awesome full-spectrum dancing laser lighting system worthy of Madonna (the pop star, not the Mother of Christ, although perhaps both—no, wait, definitely just the first one). REDGREENPURPLEREDORANGEBLUEGREENPURPLERED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The wedding planner’s mortified face almost makes the episode worthwhile. Jessa is also less than thrilled. A sheepish Ben tells the camera, “We’ll have to see what we can get away with.”
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Jessa isn’t about to put her foot down about anything, so she’s immediately making peace with the Pink Floyd-ization of her wedding. She’ll also hold the reception in the parking lot since there’s no room in the church, which is a pretty big gamble for November in Arkansas, which could be anything from 80 degrees and sunny to 20 degrees and tornado-y.
Jessa’s only going to serve ice cream, no wedding cake. A Duggar Fact pops up on the screen: The Duggars eat 1,500 pints of ice cream a year. Doing the math, that’s about a pint a week per Duggar, which seems altogether like a good way to live your life. Nice to see we’re on the same page about something.
While Jessa’s talking to the camera about ice cream, Ben interrupts to say, “We don’t want to offend any cake makers out there.” Won’t someone please think of the cake makers! We all know how delicate they are, weeping and gnashing their teeth over gay people trying to pay them money in exchange for their goods and services. A slight from the Duggars on national teevee just might lead to a rash of fondant-related suicides.
It’s Jill time. She’s near the end of her first trimester, so it’s almost too late for that abortion she’s had her eye on. Jill calls the first twelve weeks of pregnancy “the waiting period before you get the super fun stuff.” Hey, what chick doesn’t like buying a whole new wardrobe, right? Especially when it’s because the buttons and zippers on all your old clothes look like Spider-man trying to stop that train in the last good Spider-man movie.
Jill and Derick are meeting with a pair of midwives, a master and apprentice, kind of like Sith lords, that Jill met through the Fellowship of Midwives, who, coincidentally, also hate “the ring” and would like to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom forever. And as you consider whether or not that’s the geekiest sentence ever written, I’d like to point out that it comes right after a Spider-man reference. Sometimes I have to make my own fun in these recaps.
Anywhoo, the midwives stick a Doppler thingy up to Jill’s belly to hear the rhythmic contracting of heart tissue, although that heart tissue has not yet actually formed a heart and is not responsible for pumping anything yet. Biology, everybody!
The midwives urge Derick to talk to his child, and he tries to rise to the occasion. “It’s your daddy,” he says. “How you doin’? Come on out.”
“Not yet!” shout all the women in unison. Ha ha, men are idiots.
Fortunately for Ben, his little proto-tyke can’t hear him yet. The fetus won’t have the inner ear components capable of potentially registering sound for another month or the brain power to process sound for another month after that. Still, any daddy who lets that stop him from talking to his baby momma’s belly is lame, so good on Ben for trying. Better luck next time on not sounding like an idiot.
Jill tells us she’s doing natural child birth at home—no drugs, no hospitals. Fucking hippie.
Then the midwives pull out a rubber fetus doll, which is kind of neat. They don’t show it much on camera though, probably because it looks less like a pre-born American citizen and more like raw ginger root.
Back to Jessa. She gets on a walkie-talkie to ask older brother Josh if he’ll design the wedding invitation, because he’s the one who designed Jill’s. Josh lives in DC, so I guess it’s one of those cell phone walkie talkie things that they used to advertise all the time but apparently only the Duggars bought.
Cut to Jessa transforming Ben’s hair into a walnut shell via hairspray. They’re about to head out with Jinger to shoot their engagement photos, because she’s the one who shot Jill’s. Joy Anna and Johannah are chaperoning because… Jinger pointing a camera right at them isn’t enough to keep Jessa from going trouser diving, I guess.
They head out to an abandoned church with a whitewashed wood exterior, which is actually pretty cool for a backdrop. Jinger says she’s got to get creative to create a sense of romance and intimacy between the couple without them actually coming into physical contact other than their hands. How’d that work out for her? Who the fuck knows—the show barely flashes a few photos on the screen. Hope you weren’t emotionally invested in the outcome of these scene.
The bridesmaid’s dresses Jessa ordered last week are here! And they’re all wrinkled from shipping, so Jessa steams them. Yep, that made it into the show, and it’s only a half-hour episode. The other sisters gather around to try them on.
“They’re weird, that’s what I think,” says Joy Anna. Holy shit, a disagreement! A conflict that creates dramatic tension! Jana won’t even come out of the bathroom because she doesn’t want to be seen in the dress. Could the producers have accidently fallen ass-backwards onto a scene worthy of being on television?
If Jessa had a personality, maybe. But she’s not going to make a fuss. She’ll just go along to get along, as always—even with her own wedding.
Eventually they coax Jana into opening the bathroom door, and… it’s not flattering, but not horrible. The sisters quickly suss out how to raise the hemline and unbunch the stomach so it looks better. When Jinger tries on her dress, it actually looks good, although she says it’s uncomfortable.
Jessa shrugs. “I’ll just leave it with y’all,” she says, without even a hint of passive aggressiveness in her voice. “You can return it and order your own,” she says. No tears, no slamming the door, no sign of emotion whatsoever. She’s completely detached, but not in a Buddha-like way. IT’S OKAY TO WANT THINGS, JESSA! YOU CAN EXPRESS AN OPINION!
To the camera, Jessa says she hopes the dresses she ordered work out for convenience sake, but the bridesmaids can find something else if they want. What’s left unsaid: when you’re one of 19 kids, insisting on anything is something only bad kids do.