‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’: A Disturbing Docuseries

'Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets': A Disturbing Docuseries

The four-part Prime Video sequence Shiny Joyful Folks: Duggar Household Secrets and techniques, which premieres June 2, is structured like a double helix. On one aspect is an excavation of the “shiny, completely satisfied,” and God-loving picture that the prolifically breeding Duggar household put out into popular culture through its TLC specials and eventual sequence, the latest iteration of which was known as 19 Children and Counting. That sequence was famously halted in 2015 upon reports that the household’s eldest son Josh Duggar had sexually assaulted 5 ladies—a few of them his sisters, together with Shiny Joyful Folks topic Jill Duggar Dillard—previous to the household’s TV deal(s). The followup TLC sequence, Counting On, which targeted on a few of the grown-up Duggar siblings as they procreated, was additionally canceled after one other bombshell: Josh’s 2021 arrest for the possession of kid intercourse abuse materials. He was convicted and sentenced to greater than 12 years in jail the next yr.

The opposite aspect of the docuseries considerations the Institute of Fundamental Life Rules, the Christian umbrella group that the Duggars have been part of and (typically subliminally) evangelized through their TLC reveals. They homeschooled their youngsters through the IBLP’s curriculum, which was created by then-IBLP chief Invoice Gothard. Like Josh, Gothard confronted intercourse abuse allegations—in 2014, greater than 30 girls accused Gothard of harassment and sexual abuse, and in response he stepped down from IBLP management. Gothard was then sued in 2016 by a lot of alleged victims, although they withdrew their case in 2018 partially as a result of the statute of limitations for the allegations had been exceeded.

Shiny Joyful Folks: Duggar Household Secrets and techniques – Official Trailer | Prime Video

The allegations intercourse abuse within the Duggar household and their bigger non secular group are however one parallel explored in Shiny Joyful Folks. There’s, after all, the Gothard instructing that ladies are subordinate to males, one thing the Duggars have been extraordinarily open in training (hardly a shock when abuse outcomes from such a doctrine). There’s additionally the IBLP’s advocacy of kid labor for constructing numerous constructions, mirrored in not simply the Duggar youngsters’s hands-on work, but in addition of their participation in a present that they didn’t precisely consent to be in. The docuseries’ ping-ponging between IBLP teachings and Duggar practices “naturally advanced as we began discovering all the similarities,” mentioned Shiny Joyful Folks govt producer Cori Shepherd Stern in a latest Zoom interview with Jezebel. “It was like, ‘Wait a minute, these interview topics are speaking about little one labor, after which we’re discovering out all of this little one labor stuff [about IBLP].’”

Shiny Joyful Folks co-director/govt producer Olivia Crist described the Duggars because the “poster household” for the IBLP, and although their direct connection to the church wasn’t at all times specified on their reveals, its teachings have been exhibited matter-of-factly within the Duggars’ presentation of their life-style. “Whenever you watch it by means of this lens of understanding how the IBLP operates, you’re going to see stuff on the present that’s immediately from IBLP,” mentioned Crist. Different examples embrace the modesty requirements, which had the Duggar women and girls sporting sack-like attire (typically with bloomers), the method of courtships, and the expressed notion that one’s first kiss ought to be saved till marriage.

“It’s like these virtually bullying establishments or people who actually exert a substantial amount of energy over quite a lot of people—often girls, youngsters, different weak populations,” mentioned Shiny Joyful Folks govt producer Blye Faust. “Oftentimes these items simply flourish and conceal proper there in entrance of us. And it takes lots of people to look the opposite option to enable them to amass the ability and affect that they do.”

Whether or not or not TLC was conscious that it had been distributing efficient propaganda for IBLP, it’s plain that the community and the Duggar reveals’ producers performed a job in blasting out their covert messaging of Gothard’s values. Jill Duggar Dillard, the one of the 19 Duggar youngsters featured on 19 Children and Counting to seem in Shiny Joyful Folks, recounts her father negotiating his household’s participation within the present with none of the children’ enter (how patriarchal of him!). She says that the Counting On producers have been shocked when she mentioned she didn’t need to have her childbirth filmed by the present’s crew (she and her husband Derick Dillard, who can also be interviewed within the docuseries, filmed it themselves). She says that when she requested TLC to compensate her for out-of-pocket prices associated to childbirth, she was advised, “Nicely, we paid the household.” Jill maintains that she was by no means paid for her participation within the a number of TLC sequence depicting her life (“No money, no test, no nothing”) and {that a} contract her father had signed for her when she was underage carried by means of into her maturity. 

“Pay attention, this isn’t a takedown of TLC,” mentioned Blye. “We had reached out to members of the TLC manufacturing staff that labored on the reveals on the time and weren’t in a position to get anybody on to talk to us. So, , it’s a bit bit exhausting to know what they knew and after they knew.” Crist mentioned the query of TLC’s culpability is “one we pose within the present to the viewers to sort of resolve for themselves.”

Blye mentioned that her staff had reached out to “a lot of the relations” past the siblings, and people who agreed seem within the docuseries. Along with Jill and Derick, they embrace patriarch Jim Bob Duggar’s sister Deanna Duggar and her daughter Amy King (née Duggar), in addition to former Duggar household buddies Jim and Bobye Holt, who say they realized that Josh “touched his sisters inappropriately” in 2003—the yr earlier than the primary Duggar particular, 14 Kids and Pregnant Once more!, premiered on TLC. On the time, their daughter Kaeleigh Holt had been chosen by Josh for courtship for marriage. In Shiny Joyful Folks, the Holts recall Michelle Duggar (Josh’s mom/Jim Bob’s spouse) saying that Josh solely supposed to disclose his abuse to Kaeleigh after they have been married, and that when requested whether or not Kaeleigh was “a carrot to get Josh to behave,” they mentioned Jim Bob responded, “Yeah, kinda.”

Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar communicate on the 2010 Values Voter Summit, which drew practically 2,000 folks to advocate for conservative causes.
Picture: Brendan Hoffman (Getty Photos)

Concerning Jill’s interview, Crist mentioned, “There was some hesitancy on her half and rightfully so, due to all that she’s been by means of.” Within the doc, Jill maintains that her brother’s abuse allegations by no means ought to have been made public (she additionally says that if she needed to do it over once more, she wouldn’t take part within the interview that she gave Megyn Kelly in 2015 basically downplaying the alleged molestation). In fact there was a compelling purpose for the allegations to be made public: It shattered the “excellent household” picture the Duggars have been trying to place out that would simply be learn as propaganda for the IBLP. On that observe, Jill attests she was raised in a “cult-like atmosphere,” and there’s footage of Jim Bob recounting his situation on collaborating with TLC: “We’ll do that documentary so long as you don’t edit out our religion.”  

“I believe that when an individual has skilled abuse, there’s an enormous quantity of disgrace concerned in that, so even admitting that you simply’ve been abused is a large weight to hold,” defined co-director/govt producer Julia Willoughby Nason, who together with Crist interviewed Jill. “I believe the layers of her possibly telling a portion of it to 1 particular person in a sure context at a sure time of her life was one factor, however growing it and having her story being put right into a [public] context the place she didn’t give consent provides insult to harm.” Along with Jill, the docuseries comprises interviews with different survivors of IBLP’s alleged abuse, together with Emily Elizabeth Anderson, who was a plaintiff within the Gothard intercourse abuse case. (When reached for remark by the filmmakers, Gothard declined to take part.)

Jill Duggard Dillard and Derick Dillard appear in Prime Video’s Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.

Jill Duggard Dillard and Derick Dillard seem in Prime Video’s Shiny Joyful Folks: Duggar Household Secrets and techniques.

In mixture, Shiny Joyful Folks is a damning portrait of a Christian group that created an influence construction leaving so lots of its followers open to abuse, and a profile of precisely how that performed out in a single household. The numerous different survivors of IBLP and its teachings whose testimonies seem all through the docuseries’ 4 episodes solely additional communicate to the insidious nature of the church’s invocation of purity, godliness, and ethical superiority—a condescending facade for revolting exploitation.

The 4 filmmakers Jezebel interviewed expressed need to proceed on the IBLP/Duggars beat after the discharge of Shiny Joyful Folks. “That is only a small portion of this world,” mentioned Nason. “That is only a style. It’s scratching the floor. It’s so many layers—compact layers of earth, of generations, of techniques of social management.”

Stern mentioned that one side of the docuseries she wish to develop on is the penetration of IBLP teachings into prisons. “I encourage folks, after you watch this, to learn how far it went into our jail system and the way taxpayer {dollars} have been used to make these items that have been colloquially known as ‘God pods,’ the place girls prisoners specifically needed to learn the [IBLP] teachings and be a part of it. They usually received particular housing they usually received particular meals.”

“There’s so many rabbit holes you possibly can go down,” mentioned Blye.