By now, we all know that the term “reality TV” is a misnomer. The people in shows like Survivor or The Bachelorette who compete for money, a spouse or a recording contract are all carefully cast to provide the most eye candy and entertainment value for the audience.
Then there are the folks whose lifestyle or professions are so unusual that they can’t help arousing curiosity. They let the camera crews into their homes and stores for a little extra publicity (check out my cool bakery!), to defend their choices (my daughter loves competing in pageants!) or to help others avoid their mistakes (see how tough it is being a pregnant teen?). Naturally, having a generous TV paycheck doesn’t hurt, either.
But Michelle Duggar, the famous mom of the fan favorite 19 Kids & Counting, says she has nobler motives for exposing her family’s life to millions of viewers. She explains her reasons in her newest blog for TLC’s Parentables website. Not every family would welcome a film crew following them around their house day and night, but the Duggars get along famously with the TLC techs. “As far as we’re concerned, we enjoy having our film crew around because they’re great people to work with,” Michelle writes. “They really are not intrusive.”
There have been times they might have preferred to keep private, such as when their youngest daughter, Josie, was born prematurely and spent weeks in the NICU, and last winter, when Michelle miscarried a baby girl they named Jubilee. But Michelle and her husband, Jim Bob, opted to let the world see their darkest moments as well as their triumphs. “We felt like it was a part of life that probably many other people experience, and that as we walked through it, we felt like we needed to be open with people about these things,” she explains.
But the bottom-line reason the huge family agreed to become part of reality-TV history should surprise no one who’s ever watched the show. Devoutly Christian, they hope that viewers will learn from their example and experiences and start following a more God-centered path.
“My heart’s desire is not to allow myself to be puffed up by the fact that some people recognize me. That’s not what it’s about,” says Michelle. “It’s really to point people to a relationship with God. And if I can encourage them in their life to turn to the one that has all the answers, then I feel like I’ve really done what I’m supposed to do.”
She adds that although their older children understand that concept, it’s a little harder for the younger ones to grasp that they’re on TV to show a “servant spirit” rather than to become famous.
It does make a refreshing change to see reality-show stars doing something other than getting into drunken brawls or conspiring to have castmates kicked off the show. But no doubt the Duggars still appreciate having a little extra money in the bank.
And while their example might indeed encourage some audience members to go back to church, we just can’t see anyone deciding to have a dozen kids or espouse an “overpopulation is a myth” view in order to keep up with their favorite TV family.
What do you think? Are the Duggars on TV for all the right reasons?
[Photo: via TLC]
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