TLC debuts 17 Kids and Counting even as Jon & Kate Plus 8 criticism increases

Tonight at 10 p.m., TLC debuts another show about an overpopulated family. 17 Kids and Counting follows the Duggar family and their 10 boys and seven girls–and Jim Bob and Michelle, who are pregnant yet again with a baby that will undoubtedly be named something that starts with J, because every single one of their kids has a name that starts with J. (And yes, the father’s name is Jim Bob and they’re from Arkansas and they have 17 kids.)

TLC says they have “values rooted in their strong personal faith” and “believe that every child is a gift to be cherished.” According to a 2001 profile of the family in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, he is “lifelong Springdale resident who has been known as a one-issue politician–a conservative Republican who cares only about stopping abortions.”

Meanwhile, TLC’s other reality show about kids that belong to people who don’t know when to stop having babies, Jon & Kate Plus 8, is being criticized. The docudrama has been widely criticized primarily due to the sometimes dysfunctional relationship between Jon and Kate, but now former child star Paul Peterson is criticizing the show for the effect it’ll have on those eight kids.

“It’s no longer a documentary of anything except the obvious and substantial distortions that the presence of filming can have on children. … When you turn a child into a celebrity, you are asking for trouble,” he told the National Enquirer, which the anti-Jon and Kate blog Truth Breeds Hatred linked to.

Peterson says other kids will one day use it against the show’s stars. “Imagine the Gosselin girls in 10 years, getting taunted and teased by their classmates, showing naked images of them.” He wants “Jon and Kate to demonstrate true character and call a stop to this.”

17 Kids and Counting [TLC]
Reality Check [Truth Breeds Hatred]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.