Two different readers have brought up two different points/questions regarding the Duggars and I thought I might respond by putting the answers in one place. One reader asked about a post that was put on another Duggar blog that was written by Anna Keller's brother-in-law after the wedding episode, depicting what went on behind the scenes. He is careful to point out that he does not know the Duggars, but that his post is merely to clear up any misinformation out there about the Kellers and Kellers alone. He was not happy about having to sign a waiver to appear on camera, when he was first told it was optional, so he refused (he was there for Anna not to be on TV) and then when everyone was standing up on stage (he was a groomsman, his wife, Anna's older sister and owner of Anna's wedding dress, was a bride'smaid) was he then publicly confronted to sign the waiver or he wouldn't be in the wedding--apparently his wife never signed one and appeared, according to the brother-in-law, on the show illegally. There were other examples of staged incidents and questions of the Duggars being "in control" or not.
The entire letter he wrote is very long, so I copied and pasted it into the comment section, if you want to read it.
So the question was, are the Duggars puppets to TLC, especially with all the seemingly staged trips, or are they laughing all the way to the bank. The other remark was from someone who, like me, doesn't share in the Duggar's religious beliefs, but respects them, and enjoys watching them. I put these two together because it struck me as another case of "watching between the lines." I still, naive as it may sound, believe the Duggars are doing this show for honest and upright reasons. I also don't think they let it control their lives--otherwise it would be many many more shows than it is, I could be wrong, but doesn't the Kate show have many more episodes than the Duggars do?
I do think that the Duggars are put in situations that they normally wouldn't think to put themselves in since the show started--trips, outings, etc--and that is due to TLC, but I think they are enjoying them and using those trips to their advantage, not necessarily in a money way, but in a homeschooling way, behind the scenes--again speculation. I think a lot goes on behind the scenes we don't know about--I personally believe they have a "tv life" and a "private life" since this show isn't a documentary, it's set up "theme-style." I have no doubt that TLC pulls some strings. However, I don't believe for a minute that the Duggars would allow their morals, or Faith to be compromised for one moment--if that were to happen, I think they'd walk and walk fast. After all I think that's why Jim Bob's name is listed as a Producer, so he has final say--they said they would only do this if their Faith wasn't edited out. And this Producer credit is apparently new, he wasn't always listed as such, and that may be due to some things that have happened during filming that the Duggars weren't pleased with, or he's just a brilliant business man, or both.
I don't think anyone believes, even the real Duggar believers, for a moment that all the trips are Duggar-planned. While in Little Rock, I'm sure that Jim Bob does want to get the kids out of the house and keep them occupied, as well he should--it's best to remind them that they are still important parts of the family and that while Josie is sick and needs attention, they need attention too. I think TLC is just helping him find places to take them and making those trips easier to come by and making access easier--and in the stressful situation they are going through personally, I'd take the help and just go with it. Back before they had this personal trauma to deal with, I think they took TLC up on the offers of help finding outings, but still used those outings to their advantage on a homeschool basis--of course not all trips on their face will be appropriate for all age kids--but you can, if you work it right, can find something out of any of those trips, to make a valid project for any age homeschooler. Also, trips are trips and experiences are experiences, and regardless of whether they are relevant to school or not, they still are interesting and exciting for the kids and help build up who they are and where they've been.
Jim Bob is not a minister or a man of the cloth. He is a man of Faith, but he is not ordained. He is a real estate investor and former politician and former car salesman. He is a businessman. So, yes, I have no doubt he is constantly eyeing the bottom line. Why shouldn't he? He's in his mid-40s and still has kids in diapers! Even if he does have money coming in from TLC he still has to manage it wisely because he has a large family and it will be at least 20 years before Josie leaves the nest, plus he and Michelle have to think of their retirement.
I have said this before and I will say this again--they do not have a gauge for fame in the TV sense of the word. They don't watch regular television, they don't pay attention to modern media or music, so they have nothing to compare themselves to. Even when asked who Dolly Parton was, someone who had chart topping hits back when they were both in high school and able to listen to her music, didn't know what she was famous for. So when it comes to their own personal fame in regards to television, they have nothing to compare it to. They do, of course, know that they are a famous family, however it could be because you've seen them in People, or on the Today show. For all they know you're waving at them because they are a large family--remember in the first documentary, they said they always got approached long before TLC came knocking. In that respect, they can be naive to what "fame" is.
So because of that, I have no problem in believing that they are true to their word that they are really trying to be an encouragement for others---it's not about fame. I don't have a problem with them being paid a deserving wage for their time and trouble, after all it's not all wine and roses, as we've seen having a camera crew wake you up at 5am as you're leaving on a trip to the airport. I do think there are days they probably wish there wasn't someone following them around, even if that someone has become "part of the family."
That's my take--I will say this, I do feel for the brother-in-law. He was torn. He and his wife did want to be there to support Anna and the Keller family. However, I think he should have been a little more realistic...he and his wife knew going into it, long before they showed up for the wedding that it was going to be filmed for TV and they knew long before they showed up for the wedding that they didn't want to be filmed. I think he either should have signed the waiver without making a fuss about it or opted out of the wedding and done something else to support Anna and the Kellers. Obviously he was angry because he was reading things on the blog about the Kellers that he didn't like and he was blaming it all on TLC, I get that, but what I don't get is that Anna's parents knew from Day 1 that Josh and Josh's family were on a TV show--they said that in their first interview--we like them, not because they are on tv, but because they are great people, or something like that. So Anna's parent's knew what was coming--the rest of her family had to have known too. I think he was kind of out of line about it--did TLC deceive him about the waiver? We only have his word on how it happened, and if they did, that was wrong, but anyone knows, and he obviously seems to know how it works, that if you appear on tv you have to sign a waiver, and he said from the beginning that he didn't want to appear. So again, I ask, why even agree to be in the wedding? You can politely decline and give the reason "I don't want to be on TV." The Kellers, being the nice people he says they are, certainly would have understood. He could have been an usher, done something off screen. Is it just me?
Pulling this together, I think the Duggars have managed to stay on top of their world, without compromising their values, beliefs, or morals. The wedding episode aside, I do think that TLC probably has a lot to say about the episodes, but I do believe that Jim Bob and Michelle have veto-power over what happens and what gets onto the screen. I have no doubt that the wedding day was insane--even without a film crew show me a wedding day that isn't a mad house...no one ready for pictures? Sounds like my first wedding. Actually it sounds typical of any wedding, just add a camera crew and waiver signing. I do feel badly that the Kellers weren't portrayed as well as he feels they should have, I don't remember them being portrayed badly--however this show isn't about the Kellers, it's about the Duggars. Now, at least, we know why we don't see more of the Kellers--Mr. and Mrs. Keller aren't fans of being on film. I think brother-in-law was overly defensive over remarks on a blog by people being mean to his in-laws (the Kellers) and he vented at TLC about it, I probably would too if I saw my in-laws being called horrible names by faceless people who didn't know them. But when it comes down to it, I think the Duggars are not puppets of TLC and doubtful they ever will be. I think their entire mission is to be an encouragment to as many as they can--just the sight of them with Sara and Samuel in the NICU should prove that.