Duggar Family Reality TV Return: Is It Really Happening?

The Duggar family is dropping grim hints of a possible TV return.

First, there was Jana’s abrupt return to social media. Then, Jessa heaped undeserved praise on Michelle Duggar, of all people.

To some longtime Duggar-watchers, this could just be normal social media comebacks. It happens.

But others see these as part of a series of red flags that could herald the family’s return to television.

Jesse Duggar, Michelle Duggar, and Jim Bob Duggar
Counting On star Jessa Duggar sits down with her villainous mother, Michelle Duggar, and father, Jim Bob Duggar, to discuss how they ensure that their children remain trapped within the cult into which they were born. (Image Credit: YouTube)

Why do fans speculate that the Duggar family could return to TV?

As we noted, Jana Duggar took to Instagram. Why? To wish a Happy Mother’s Day to Michelle Duggar.

That seems like appropriate timing. It’s hard to think of someone who is more wholly deserving yet undeserving of Mother’s Day honors. By quantity? She’s such a mother. By quality? That’s another story.

But it’s more than Mother’s day. Not only did Jana return after a two-year hiatus, but Jessa reemerged after months of silence to spam posts on multiple platforms, vlogging about her kids.

Obviously, it’s possible that a resurgence in two Duggar daughters’ social media accounts could be a coincidence.

But, in general, there are two main reasons for reality TV personalities to strategically post.

The first is because they want to do product endorsements and similar ads, for money. And the other is because they have a project — like a TV comeback — coming up.

Michelle Duggar on YouTube
Michelle Duggar made a very rare public appearance today. Like the rest of her family, Michelle has been keeping a low profile since the arrest of son Josh. (Image Credit: YouTube)

Why did the Duggars have to leave TV in the first place?

In 2015, the world learned about Josh Duggar’s scandals.

This went beyond his “pornography scandal,” which was a controversy within their cult, and him cheating on his wife, which was a cruel thing to do.

When Josh was a teenager, he molested five young girls — including several of his own sisters. His parents covered it up, putting him into their cult’s idea of counseling without reporting the crime or actually addressing the problem.

Now-disgraced criminal Josh Duggar sits beside wife Anna Duggar on 19 Kids and Counting.
Now-disgraced criminal Josh Duggar sits beside wife Anna Duggar on 19 Kids and Counting. (Image Credit: TLC)

At the time, TLC simply pulled a bait & switch. The network canceled 19 Kids & Counting and replaced it with Counting On … bringing back almost the entire Duggar family and continuing to enrich Jim Bob, but without Josh or his parents appearing on screen.

It soon became apparent that TLC was boiling the frog with viewers. Little by little, Jill & Jessa’s disgraceful parents began inching their way back onto the show. Fans feared that i was only a matter of time before Josh reappeared.

Fortunately, that did not materialize. In 2021, Homeland Security officials arrested Josh Duggar for receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Later that year, he received his conviction. He is currently behind bars, where he belongs. And the Duggars have, since then, been off of TLC.

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A wide-eyed Michelle Duggar makes a memorable expression on YouTube. (Image Credit: YouTube)

How could the Duggar family return to TV?

After such a grisly scandal — especially one where so many victims and accessories (at least, people who covered up Josh’s crimes) were Josh’s castmates — how could the family return to TV?

We would love to believe that it’s impossible.

But networks seldom cancel shows over personal moral horror. These are business decisions. Fleeing viewers, protesting viewers, and especially pressure from advertisers changes more TV exec minds than any amount of right and wrong.

So what would it take to make a Duggar TV comeback happen?

Unfortunately, it’s just for people to “forget” and “move on.” There are elements of our culture that are almost pathologically obsessed with “letting go” of wrongdoings.

It could happen. If people shrug off wrongdoings, they’ll watch the Duggar cult on TV again and brush off moral outrage over it. Worse — many of them will pretend that it’s fine to watch Jim Bob and Michelle and their brood, because Josh is behind bars.

Josh Duggar in an ugly yellow polo shirt on 19 Kids and Counting.
During his time on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Josh Duggar was hiding dark secrets. (Image Credit: TLC)

Was it really just about Josh?

In a sense, sure, this is all about Josh. Josh’s scandals led to the Duggar family reality TV careers tanking not once, but twice.

But Josh didn’t cover up his crimes as a teen. His parents did.

And the abusive ideology of IBLP and the Duggar family made a perfect hunting ground for predators like Josh. He benefited from that, but it didn’t start with him. Josh was just the tip of the iceberg.

Derick Dillard and Jill Duggar for Shiny Happy People.
On the “Shiny Happy People” documentary, Jill Duggar tried to convey the complex emotions that she still feels towards her horrible parents. Husband Derick Dillard was by her side. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime)

There are also very different issues with the Duggar family. Things that truly do not connect to Josh’s crimes against children.

Jill and Derick have raised the alarm about Jim Bob pocketing checks from TLC and then doling out limited payouts to his adult children.

For years, he has used money and gifts — like houses — to control his adult children, even after they marry. To tune in to watch the Duggars stage a comeback means helping Jim Bob to do that again.

Josh Duggar and Anna Duggar on 19 Kids and Counting.
There was a time when TLC’s cameras caught Josh Duggar pretending to be an upstanding man and a good husband to Anna Duggar. Those were lies. (Image Credit: TLC)

Have any other reality TV stars come back from something this bad?

It is with a heavy heart that we note that other reality stars have returned to television after awful scandals and grim revelations.

Obviously, the first people to come to mind are some of the more vile Real Housewives of 90 Day Fiance cast members. It’s not like they had their own shows, and producers clearly felt that including toxic scumbags would do more good than harm to ratings.

But one reality TV figure seems especially relevant. Her family had their own show on TLC. And after her scandal, involving a sexual predator who targets children, led to the show’s cancelation.

Mama June Shannon wears thick eyelashes on a 2024 episode of Mama June: Family Crisis.
On Mama June: Family Crisis, the titular June Shannon speaks to the confessional camera. (Image Credit: WEtv)

Despite that, Mama June Shannon has a reality show again. It’s not on TLC — it airs on WEtv, where apparently cuddling in bed with the man who abused your daughter is water under the bridge.

As we noted, executives only rarely make moral, ideological decisions on purpose. Pressure from viewers, especially on advertisers, is what tips the scales more times than not.

Could the Duggars stage a return, on some fringe streaming network or on WEtv or something like that? Absolutely. But we would love to believe that there are enough decent people in the world that it wouldn’t work out.

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