If I ever get tired of reading about the Duggars, assume that I am gravely ill. There is just something about this family that never ceases to entertain me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I have followed them since it was just 12 Kids and Counting and they were just a one-off special on TLC. Michelle looked a whole lot different, and we weren't even thinking about the girls finding boys to court.
But as the world learned more and more about this religious family, we also learned about the strange rules they enforce upon their children. At first it seemed a little quirky and refreshing to see a family so set in their values, but as time went on, it seemed like the "we're the perfect family" schitck was getting laid on thicker and thicker.
Then, once the news of Josh Duggar molesting his sisters and seeking out sex on the Ashley Madison website broke, it seemed like there was a giant chip of the Duggar family armor. All of a sudden, people were looking for reasons to criticize, and rightly so. Fans started to take more in-depth looks as to what this family was doing, and whether or not the Duggars were being authentic or not.
There's been speculation about whether or not Joy-Anna Duggar had premarital sex, whether Jinger Duggar had fertility problems (or just didn't want kids), and of course, who can forget all the drama that Derick Dillard provided.
It got me thinking: are the Duggars really the way they seem? Or is it all just a facade so that they can keep raking in money? It turns out, it's a mixture of the two. These are some of the real moments that happened, and some of the fake ones they put on for the camera. Plus, I found some juicy secrets from former crew members!
1. Men Choose What Women Wear
Unfortunately, this is a real thing that happens in the Duggar world. As part of their religion, the family chooses to dress modestly.
"As we studied as a family, we found we could come up with our idea of what we thought modesty was, but we really wanted to see what the scriptures said about it," the Mother Duggar said.
"Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered. By keeping those private areas covered, there's not any 'defrauding' going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don't believe in defrauding others by the way we dress."
This also means dresses and skirts for the women, with no exception. That's why when Jinger Duggar began wearing pants after her marriage to Jeremy Vuolo, people were confused. But Vuolo later clarified that has long as the men are okay with it.
“It is your liberty as to whether you dress modestly with a modest pair of pants, or with a skirt, or with a T-shirt, or with a blouse,” Jeremy said. “It is not your liberty, women, to wear sensual, seductive clothing that is designed to draw the attention of your brothers."
Jill and Jessa also began wearing pants as their marriages went on, presumably because their husbands gave them the "okay."
2. Jinger and Jeremy's Engagement
Well, the engagement was real, but the "surprise" was not even close. The romance gets a little dampened when you have an entire crew following you, and you're fully aware of what's going to happen. In theory, the moment was beautiful. Jinger and Jeremy were on a New York City rooftop with a cello and guitar music providing religious music in the background.
But it became pretty clear that the whole thing was set up, after fans noticed something on the floor.
“Anyone else notice the J and V tape on the floor so they ‘hit the mark’ for filming? Not sure I like a proposal that scripted,” one person commented.
Sure, it's possible that the engagement happened in private, and that they were asked to re-enact it for the show, but when you realize that the "happiest moment of their lives" is more like "the happiest scene we have on schedule to film today," a little bit of the magic gets taken away.
DUGGAR SECRET: Michelle Got a Gay Crew Member Fired
According to a crew member from 17 Kids and Counting in 2008, the family was in New York City when she discovered that one of the crew members was gay. Michelle had concerns about the safety of the city and approached a group of crew members.
"Well, I hear the city is overrun by gays," Michelle asked. "Has that been causing a lot of problems?"
The crew laughed, and then told her that one of their co-workers was gay, and Michelle allegedly lost it. She pulled a producer aside and began screaming at him, as the Duggar religion frowns upon homosexuality. The crew member was immediately removed from the set and moved to a different location.
"They kept a very tight lid on this incident," the anonymous tipster wrote, "Because on future tapings when new crews would be swapped in, they were suspiciously more and more straight-edged Christian than you’d typically see on the set of a television show."
3. The Crew Being Like "Family"
The majority of the crew has been around for seven years with the Duggars, and most have become quite close with the family. The Duggars have been open about how the crew members have often helped out around the house, watched the kids, and even jumped into action when Josie Duggar, five at the time, suffered a seizure.
The director of the show, Scott Enlow, had been filming on a different location when Josie became unresponsive. Jana did her best to control the situation, but it was clear she needed the help of someone else. Enslow rushed to help out, and stayed by Jana and Josie's side until the paramedics arrived.
The family has also said that the crew will help out with dinner sometimes if things are getting hectic. Having people you can trust is always helpful to have around, especially when your house is filled with so many children!
4. Michelle's "Baby Voice"
The Mother Duggar may sound like she's consistently talking to a puppy, but that's not her real voice at all. The crew has said on multiple occasions that Michelle actually has a typical speaking voice, but that she uses the baby voice to sounds more innocent than she is.
Michelle has also admitted that she's got some anger issues, so the baby voice helps her keep calm and sound less upset. She claims to have learned this trick from a "wisdom book," and says that it helps her be more submissive and kind, which is what her religious views tell her to do.
DUGGAR SECRET: Josiah Says They Re-Shoot
Josiah Duggar, who recently became engaged under mysterious circumstances, told OK! Magazine that he and his siblings have often been asked to re-shoot scenes for the "reality show."
“The show has changed the way we live…We walk through a door, and [then] we have to walk through it again [because] we didn’t do it [right] the first time,” Josiah said.
Of course, that doesn't mean that everything they do is fake, but it certainly asks more questions than it answers.
5. Jinger's Car
During the episode "Jinger Flips," where the Duggar daughter buys a car at an auction, fixes and sells it, there's a whole storyline about a 'potential buyer' for the car, who agrees to purchase the refurbished automobile. Later in the episode, you find out that the deal fell through and it was never purchased.
There's actually two things wrong with the whole thing. First off, it's been widely reported that Jinger didn't have anything to do with the car, they just wanted it to seem like some of the kids had different hobbies than music, church, and babysitting their siblings.
The other issue is that this "buyer" for the car was staged. After friends kept hammering the guy with customers, the man who has hired to be interested in Jinger's car clarified his involvement on Facebook.
“A friend of mine works on the crew and invited me to play the role of ‘guy who wants to buy car,” Eric wrote. “The Duggars live and their show is filmed in this area of Arkansas (Fayetteville/Bentonville).”
6. $3,000 For Food
Michelle Duggar has talked about her food planning in past episodes, and the math is staggering. She tries to budget $5 per child, per day. For all 19 kids, that works out to about $95 a day. For one month, that means $2,850...not including parents.
Granted, not all the kids live at home anymore and have families of their own, but as the kids who are at home get older, and as prices increase, it can't be easy putting that kind of money towards groceries alone. The Duggars have often been open about their spending habits, though, admitting that they buy a lot in bulk and keep their own pantry of staples. Plus, the family doesn't put themselves into debt by spending money they don't have. Clearly it's working for them!
DUGGAR SECRET: Jim-Bob Caught One Of His Sons...Self-Pleasuring
One anonymous former crew member recounted the time he witnessed Jim-Bob find one of his sons masturbating, and the aftermath that followed.
"Jim Bob walked in; he caught him doing it," they wrote. "Jim Bob's screams made the crew run to where they were filming. Immediately they asked him what was wrong. All Jim could reply was 'idle hands are the devil's playthings.' Apparently, the whole next day [the son] was supposed to do chores around the house. But Jim Bob had tied his hands together so that doing anything was nearly impossible."
Sounds like more discipline than they gave Josh for molesting his sisters...but that's none of my business.
7. Giving Food To Charity
YES. I KNOW. It's mind-blowing. A big part of the Duggars and their show is how they portray themselves as giving and helpful to those in need. Not to say they're not, but it doesn't look good when you fake charity when the cameras are rolling.
In Touch Weekly reported that on multiple occasions, the Duggars would film themselves making tons of food for those less fortunate, and then bringing the food to charity organizations to donate. However, they never actually went in to the places to donate the food. The cameras would be shut off, and the family would load the car (bus?) back up and bring the food home.
It's understandable that they may not have the means to donate to others when they're already spending $3,000 on their own food, but it's not okay to stage yourselves as this giving family and then do a complete 180 when the cameras stop rolling.
8. The Tortilla Hat
This is just hilarious more than anything else. While Jill and Derick Dillard took a day-trip to a farm, they realized they have forgotten to bring a hat for baby Samuel. Not uncommon, as there's so much stuff to pack when traveling with a baby, it's understandable to leave something behind. But instead of using a different article of clothing as a hat for their litt guy, they used a tortilla.
I'm no expert, but I don't know that flour tortillas are UV protective. I will say it's great that they tried to find something to use, but I wonder how they had a tortilla more readily available than a hat. I guess we'll never know.
9. The Weddings Didn't Include Josh
After news about Josh Duggar's scandal broke. TLC vowed to not have him on their network ever again. There was just one problem...his family was still on TV. At both Jinger and Jill's weddings, Josh Duggar was apparently a persona non grata. He wasn't in any scenes, and he wasn't in any photos. However, it later came out that he was there, they just strategically shot scenes so he wasn't visible.
When Jill and Derrick leave the church after their wedding, the shot had to be redone up to a reported 20 times because Josh Duggar kept finding his way into the shot. Same thing for Jinger and Jeremy driving away after their wedding. At one point, it was inevitable that Josh would be in the shot, so they had to use a fake sun glare to blur him out.
DUGGAR SECRET: The Crew Was Told To Keep Their Distance
A former employee of the show, from back in 2008, said that when the show first started, they were told to keep their distance from the Duggars. The family had been so isolated from the rest of the world back then, they didn't want to upset them with any of their "normal" conversations.
"The producers of the show had instructed crew members to not ever engage in conversation on our own with Jim Bob or Michelle in fears that we may either say something normal that they would find objectionable or that they would say something to where we’d react funny because we weren’t used to their level of 'unworldliness' I think it was put," the employee explained to Gawker.
"We were constantly reminded that we were not to upset them or taint their version of the world, which is why they wanted limited conversation. Even a lighthearted conversation that might actually educate them about something they were horribly ignorant about was seen as tainting their view. It was very much like being told to not tell your little sister about Santa Claus."
A former production assistant on the show even said the crew thinks the family is as strange as everyone else does.
"I worked with the crew for a short time and in my experience, most of them seemed to think they were just as nuts as most of us do," he wrote. "I witnessed crew hiding smoking and drinking from the family for whatever reason and sharing stories about things they saw the family do that they thought was bizarre. There was a clear separation between the crew and family. The crew was just normal people doing a job and the family was just the talent they happened to be shooting.”