TLC Still Hasn’t Canceled ’19 Kids And Counting’

The Duggars (Josh is second from right) having a drink with "presidential candidate" Rick Santorum
Getty Image

The Duggars (Josh is second from right) having a drink with "presidential candidate" Rick Santorum

Last we heard from TLC in the wake of the Josh Duggar molestation revelation (worst prog-rock band name ever) was that they’d pulled 19 Kids and Counting from the schedule, saying:

Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.

The important distinction here being that they’d pulled it from the schedule, not canceled it altogether. And sure enough, today comes a report from Variety quoting an unnamed source that says TLC hasn’t decided to cancel 19 Kids and Counting yet, and may decide to keep it going, albeit with Josh off the show.

The Discovery Communications-owned network has not canceled the program in the wake of the recent disclosure that Josh Duggar, one of the central figures in the show, admitted to molesting teenage girls 12 years ago.

The company has not yet decided whether the show should continue or be cancelled, according to a person familiar with the situation. If the program were to continue, this person added, it would have to do so without Josh Duggar and with an emphasis on other members of the Duggar family. The most recent cycle of the series concluded in mid-May, but Discovery has pulled it from TLC and the Web. [Variety]

TLC famously canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after allegations that “Mama June” was dating a convicted child molester (Mama June has since threatened to sue TLC if they don’t cancel the Duggars). So why the hesitation this time around? Well, 19 Kids and Counting has better ratings than Honey Boo Boo at its peak, and was declining by the time they canceled it. Hmm, make money, or risk being seen as the network that supports child molesters, tough choice.

Advertiser support for the program appears to be wavering. General Mills, Choice Hotels Intl. and Payless Shoe Source have all indicated they are working to keep their ads separate from “19.” In most cases, advertisers put in place a larger deal with the network or even an array of outlets owned by Discovery, rather than buying a particular program. None of the advertisers said they were puling ads from TLC or Discovery in general. [Variety]

Jeez, what would a show have to do in order for advertisers to actually pull out?

“19 Kids and Counting” isn’t the first controversial program Discovery has had to scrutinize. In 2011, TLC launched “All-American Muslim,” a reality program that followed Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe’s, the large home-improvement retailer, pulled its support of the show within weeks, after being contacted by an advocacy group known as the Florida Family Association. [Variety]

Ah yes, the US of A, where you can televise child molesters and no one bats an eye, but depicting everyday Muslims can lose you advertisers.

Honestly though, TLC should keep the show going and no advertisers should pull out. To quit now would be to say that they were too stupid to realize that something sexually weird was going on in an Arkansas family with stone age views on sex and 19 siblings, all with names starting with J (the real shock would be if one of them ended up well-adjusted). No one that stupid should be allowed to drive a car, let alone run companies. It also perpetuates the myth that gawking at these freaks was somehow an endorsement of their values. If you pull out because one of them touched his sisters, does that mean you thought it was okay that these parents were basically running a cult? Just be “TLC: The Network That Makes Freak Shows.” Anything else would be a lie.