Will TLC Treat Michelle Duggar’s Miscarriage Like Russell Armstrong’s Suicide?

19 Kids and Counting "Planning for the Future" recap - Michelle Duggar doctor appointmentUpdate: We’ve decided that, if TLC is gonna exploit Michelle’s miscarriage for ratings, then we’ll track its dramatic arc from episode to episode: Starting with the February 21 ep “Josh & Anna Check-In.”

Halfway through the season 9 premiere of 19 Kids and Counting on TLC last night, it became painfully clear what will be the show’s focus this season: Michelle Duggar‘s miscarriage of 20th child Jubilee Shalom Duggar. And already I’m seeing shades of how Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills handled the unexpected suicide of star Russell Armstrong—namely, uncomfortable foreshadowing of an event we all know the gory details of, and cameras hovering over every private moment.

Knowing where we’re going to end up, and reflecting on all of the attention that Jubilee’s funeral got in the media, you have to ask why the Duggars would put themselves through this pain twice. And furthermore, why would they consent to having TLC turn this into a highly-dramatized story? Why not grieve in private instead of folding this tragedy into their brand?

Already the editors have sketched out a dramatic arc that begins with Jim Bob Duggar telling the cameras how excited he and the kids are for the new baby. Then there’s Michelle Duggar, who’s been making an effort to eat better and work out even before she found out she was pregnant again. (At the time of the premiere, she’s at 12 weeks.) That in itself is hard enough to watch, because it’s clear that Michelle is acting in response to her daughter Josie being born premature. However, rather than respond to the media’s criticisms and take the time to take care of underdeveloped Josie, Michelle is already looking ahead to the next inhabitant of her womb.

There’s a funny moment in the confessional where Jim Bob and Michelle reflect on her carrying their 20th child, and she says something about how it’s such a surprise to be expecting again. Really? I wondered. Isn’t it a sad inevitability by now? I will give them points for joking about the pregnancy:

Jim Bob: “Forty-six…”
Michelle: “…and still going strong!”

But even this levity is difficult to watch knowing that not long after, Michelle will lose the baby. In the first episode, Jim Bob and Michelle visit the doctor for a check-up and their first look at the heartbeat. I was convinced that they were just going to jump right in to the miscarriage in the first episode, but what the producers did was worse: They stretched out the suspense of not being able to find the baby’s heartbeat at first, in a knowing wink to all the fans who’ve already memorized the details of Jubilee’s fate. To have to watch Michelle’s expectant, nervous face was torture.

Then they went to commercial.

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    • Lauren

      While I agree with you that this will be a cringe worthy season, I do kind of understand why the Duggers wouldn’t scrap the season. I don’t watch this show, but I can figure out that the only reason this family is staying afloat financially is because of this show. They all earn enough money to keep the family going. If they were to not get paid for a season, who knows what it would do to their finances. I almost wonder if they had any say in what the finished product would show.

    • Rebecca Marlin.

      I wish that TLC would pull the plug on this trashy show. It shows that women are only good for breeding, and I would like that clown car wakjob to raise her litter(hold down an extra job) instead of leaving it to her daughters(free child care) or reality tv.

      TV is bad, but selling yourself to the media for the expense of your kids is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaokay!

    • M E

      I am so sick and tired of these people! Women suffer miscarriages all the time and it is very devastating. These people are so christian why have’nt they figured out yet that GOD IS TRYING TO TELL THEM TO STOP HAVING BABIES!!!! Their last child nearly died and is special needs and Michelle herself almost died HELLO? are you that freaking stupid????19 kids? are you serious? I would consider myself blessed to have one child at my age,and a close friend is pregnant and has suffered numerous miscarriages ,she and her husband are pregnant again and goddess willing the baby survives. Enough with these people and her Whinny voice TLC what is wrong with you? This show should have NEVER BEGUN,it needs to end NOW!

      • Brooklynde Stagnolia

        don’t be mean I know its crazy god is not telling them no children are a blessing don’t ya know if your gonna be mean just leave this page

    • Esther

      The only reason they are making this such a big deal is cuz they are on tv. Like michelle’s whole comment about ‘I have 10 boys and 10 girls. The tenth girl is waiting in heaven’ like if that’s how you feel, why don’t you say something about the miscarriage you had after josh?? Like should you say you have 11 boys 10 girls and one of each is waiting for you?? Wow!!

      • wayne

        I love you all Thankyou for your ministry.Please keep the show going your sister inchristl

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