The announcement ends weeks of speculation about the fate of the show after the Duggars’ oldest son, Josh, apologized in May for molesting multiple young girls, including some of his sisters, more than a decade ago, when he was a teenager. Duggar, 27, also resigned from his job at the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm in D.C.
“Years ago, when we were asked to film our first one hour documentary about the logistics of raising 14 children, we felt that it was an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God,” the Duggar family said in a statement Thursday.
They continued: “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.”
The latest season of “19 Kids and Counting” concluded two days before Josh Duggar’s May 21 apology. But TLC still had reruns on its schedule until the May 22 announcement that the show was being pulled indefinitely.
Then came the advertiser exodus, with more than 20 brands publicly declaring that they had no interest in advertising with “19 Kids and Counting” in the future.
Thursday’s announcement indicates that while “19 Kids and Counting” is off the air for good, the Duggars have not completely severed their relationship with the network: TLC is planning to air an hour-long, commercial-free documentary on childhood sexual abuse — a program that the network says will “include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.”
Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, two of Josh’s younger sisters, told Fox News in an hour-long June interview that they were two of their brother’s molestation victims.
“With God’s grace and help Josh,
“We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many.”
The Duggars’ first major television special, “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” aired in 2004. The family starred in a handful of specials over the next several years, featuring the births of the 15th, 16th and 17th Duggar children, and a move into a larger home. The TLC series, originally called “17 Kids and Counting,” had its premiere in 2008.
Until its removal from the air in May, the show’s audience had been growing, as recent seasons featured the courtship, marriage and pregnancies of some of the Duggar women. One episode from the latest season of “19 Kids” featured the gender reveal of the child Josh and Anna Duggar are expecting.
Last fall, a petition to cancel the show in the wake of the family’s stance against LGBT discrimination protections gained more than 100,000 followers. But the show’s substantial fan base rallied in response to that petition, and circulated a counter-petition on LifeSiteNews asking TLC to keep “19 Kids and Counting” on the air.
This post, originally published at 10:21 a.m., has been updated several times.