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TLC finally decided to cancel 19 Kids & Counting, but wait…

TLCTLC has cancelled 19 Kids and Counting six weeks after news broke that, as a teenager, Josh Duggar molested young girls, including his siblings–and the family responded horribly.

The network will now air a documentary about survivors of child molestation that will feature Jill and Jessa. And, well, they may still air another series starring the Duggars that’s just not called 19 Kids and Counting.

While this is ultimately the correct decision, let us not pretend TLC is deserving of great praise for the cancellation itself. Why?

  1. It took six weeks to do this. Absolutely nothing new has emerged since then, nor did the network suggest new information affected their decision. Why, then, did it take six weeks? Either decide you do not want to be in business with this family, or stay with this source of cash. Waiting out the controversy was cowardly, not “thoughtful consideration.”
  2. TLC may just shift its focus away from the larger family and and instead focus on some of the kids. CNN reports that “a spokesman for Discovery Communications, which owns TLC, said the channel is not ruling out a spin-off show featuring some of the Duggar children in the future.” In other words, TLC is not yet finished making money off of the Duggars.

The Duggar family had time to craft a statement that framed this as TLC “will not be filming new episodes,” and mostly repeated the kinds of arguments they’ve made before.

“Over the last several years people have said to us, ‘We love your show!’ We have always responded, ‘It’s not a show, it’s our lives!’ Our desire in opening our home to the world is to share Bible principles that are the answers for life’s problems.

With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become.

It is our prayer that the painful situation our family went through many years ago can point people toward faith in God and help others who also have lived through similar dark situations to find help, hope and healing, as well.”

Here is TLC’s full statement:

“After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting. The show will no longer appear on the air.

The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection.

Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims’ rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.

TLC has been especially concerned for the victims in this situation, including the Duggar family, and it is our hope that this effort will help those in need learn where to turn for information and help. The documentary will be commercial free, and we anticipate it will air later this summer.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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