Generally speaking, I enjoy the most salacious, violent and depressing television shows I can find. Maybe it's just a perverse form of escapism, maybe it's the high quality of shows being produced these days, but I can't resist "prestige" television -- "The Wire," "Breaking Bad," "Fargo," "The Sopranos," "Game of Thrones," "House Of Cards," "The Walking Dead" and so on. For that matter, I also hung around for four seasons of "The Killing" and watched every episode of the "Halt and Catch Fire." So, apparently, whatever you make, I' y for watching such dreck -- and I never left. I can't remember when it happened exactly, and I don't know if I'll be able shake this bizarre feeling, but I do know that I'm hooked on what has to be the most countercultural show on TV these days.
For the unfamiliar, "19 Kids and Counting" is a reality television show featuring the Duggar family of northwestern Arkansas. The Duggars are devout Independent Baptists, a fundamentalist offshoot of Baptism that, from what I can gather, is a bit cultish and has experienced some rough patches over the past few years. No matter; the Duggars never proselytize as far as I can tell -- unless you count making a pious life with tons of kids seem fulfilling and extraordinarily fun.
What the Duggars do is engage in the reactionary act of producing a large number of offspring -- all of whom are given first names that begin with "J" (though "Jinger" seems like cheating to me). Jim Bob and Michelle have also have gone through two miscarriages (the show deals with the family's grieving process) and have a couple of grandkids. And other comparably enormous families tend to pop in and out of their lives as the Duggars do their mission work and disembark in various cities and tourist sites around the country.
This week, the new season kicked off. It will focus on Jill Duggar, one of the older girls, and her pending marriage to a ridiculously respectful young man named Derek. This relationship blossomed after a courtship -- the Duggar children court prospective mates, they do not date. (As a father of two daughters, this seems far less outrageous than I would have imagined.)