The Bates Have All Of The Duggars’ Issues And None Of Their Entertainment Value

The United Bates of America boring Duggars Gil Kelly Jo Bates

Ironically, I figured that out of last night’s two shows I had to watch, I would have nothing to say about Stars Earn Stripes and plenty to write about TLC‘s new mega-family reality series The United Bates of America. But instead, I railed against Stars for being yet another manipulative reality competition, and I was completely underwhelmed by Bates. TLC seemed to be grooming the Bates family to be the Duggars‘ successors, or at least a holdover until 19 Kids and Counting returns. And in many ways, the Bates are as much of a shitshow as the Duggars: Here’s a family so entrenched in religious belief that they’ve completely justified their selfish and utterly unreasonable lifestyle. Let’s go through the main similarities:

  • Charismatic patriarch with a wife who stares at him stupidly during confessionals
  • The older kids get stuck taking care of the infants
  • Unfortunate hairstyles on the women
  • Women wear only dresses and skirts — I think the Bates say because it’s more modest and something about pleasing God — while men get to wear jeans, shorts, whatever
  • They have as many babies “as the Lord deems,” and then act all confused and sad when their 19th child is so frail it has to be hooked up to a respirator

I can see why TLC signed them on to their own show, especially since they sing. (Watch the “theme song” here, it ain’t pretty.) But that’s about all they’ve got over the Duggars, who are simply more entertaining. Absolutely nothing happens in the first two episodes of The United Bates of America, and it’s not as if you can pick out any rising stars within the family who you’d be willing to watch as the show goes on (like oldest Duggar child Josh with his own family, or Jinger who everyone’s convinced is trying to dig her way out of the compound). OK, so Gil and Kelly Jo Bates change Valentine’s Day to “I Love You Day” and make sure all the kids buy each other gifts, but my parents did that with my sister and me.

I get the feeling that when TLC first heard about the Duggars, the talent scouts turned to each other and were like, “We’ve struck gold!” Because you had Michelle‘s crazy eyes and Jim Bob‘s creepy almost sexual vibe (don’t pretend you don’t see it) and their dark past with the miscarriage and the fact that Josh had found his own vacant-eyed child bride in Anna. There was so much material, whereas the Bates don’t give you anything to work with. Gil and Kelly Jo use more than one letter in naming their kids, so their offspring have normal names like Erin and Tori. They drop some religious what-the-fuck lines, but the cameras don’t follow them into church. Tumblr user wtffundiefamilies pointed out that while Gil and Jim Bob both act like overgrown children, Gil is actually competent and provides for his family… which is boring.

The only embeddable video I could find is tragically dull, as Gil polls the family on what their show should be called:

But honestly, the rest of the videos leave a lot to be desired, too. You can’t even find any entertaining .gifs of them! The Bates do nothing. They must think that simply by virtue of popping out a bunch of kids, they’re fascinating to American viewers. But in order to have a successful reality career, you need to generate more weirdness once you’re on-camera. (Or, in the case of the Duggars, completely manipulate the tragedy of your miscarriage for ratings. I’d like to think this was more TLC’s fault, but who really knows.) Though I couldn’t help thinking, as I watched, that if you put Heather Burns from the Miss Congeniality movies in a fat suit, she could play a great Kelly Jo. But they’ll never get a biopic, because they’re not interesting!

While we wait for the Duggars to return, just watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. You’ll be headdesking so hard you’ll put yourself into a coma, and when you wake up, Jim Bob and Michelle will be back.

Photo: TLC

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    • Disgusted

      They call the show reality TV. Is it reality TV? Sad. Why glorify popping out an abnormal amount of kids in our over-populated country/ Some people claim to be doing Gods work, but fail to actually listen. How can these people say God wants them to continue to have children when the latest child born had such problems. Has God not spoken…no He has yelled! Hopefully, someone is actually listening. If Octo-mom claimed to hear the spirit, would it now be OK?

    • Becky Mattingly

      I for one prefer this show over the Duggars. The Bates family are so likable!!

    • karen

      Unlike you and what you like I can asure you that alot of people value what the Bates family and the Duggers have as far as their values and morals. I am very happy to have shows to watch that have meaning. Besides cheating sposes drugs sex or gender changes
      .Also the most gross show is honey bobo

    • Kayleigh

      I’ll never understand how there can be so much hatred towards families like this for the simple fact that they do things differently than other people. I am a very liberal, leftie kind of person and I believe 100% in pro-choice. And by that, let me stress pro-CHOICE. If someone wants to have an abortion, go ahead. If someone wants to use no form of contraception and have as many children as they can, go ahead. It’s THEIR choice. It makes no matter if I would choose the same for myself, I respect their beliefs and their choices in life. And furthermore, watching these shows often makes me regain a little faith in the coming generation. I might not share their religious convictions, but I can stand up and applaud their character values and basic morals, and I truly appreciate that these families are raising children who don’t feel entitled to everything for nothing, who don’t think the world revolves around them, and who will go through the first 20ish years of their life expected to do nothing but play video games and be waited on hand and foot, and then to magically turn into productive members of society. So yes, a BIG HUGE round of applause for the Bates, Duggars, and all other families like them who seem genuinely respectful of others and their beliefs, while still holding true to their own and doing a better job with their 19 kids than most people seem to do with only 1 these days.

    • Maureen Rose Tagliaferro

      I have to agree that having 19 kids is crazy. Even so, I can’t help but like the Duggars, as I have to admire the fact that Michelle is so calm, natural, organized, and energetic. I don’t know for sure what I would look or feel like if I had 19 kids, but the first word that comes to my mind is “crazy.” So, why am I so infatuated with the Duggars? Again, I don’t know for sure, but maybe it’s because they express their views and life-styles without putting anyone down or excluding those who are more, controversial, shall we say. I don’t think Cousin Amy embraces everything about their lifestyle, but she is totally welcomed at the Duggar compound.
      There are a lot of uncanny similarities between the Bates and the Duggars, but the Bates are proof that the Duggars aren’t an isolated rarity. There are actually more people like them, and that alone makes the Bates family interesting. After catching two minutes of Honey Boo Boo and hearing about the Real Housewives of New Jersey, the Bates actually make me feel hopeful. We became a culture that has been cherishing dysfunction for so long, it’s nice to know other ways of life exist.

    • carol bridge

      I miss
      bates of america, i think the bates kids are better looking and me and my family enjoy their program more than the duggars,,,i would love to see them back on TLC

    • jojo

      I agree – they’re both equally weird. That Michelle with those weirdo bangs/hair speaks in that irritatingly sickly sweet voice when she’s on camera but things sure are different when the cameras are off – she all of a sudden ‘morphs’ into a ‘normal’ irritated mom – yeah – and the losing of their baby – sickening that a woman her age wouldn’t be ashamed that she put herself ahead of a little human being. They’re all revolting and fame whores, no better than the Kardashians with less sleaze.. or maybe not Jim Bob or whatever the heck his name is? uggh – they make me shudder!