So, TLC, it’s time for a little real talk. Sit down. Shut up. Listen. I know you’re scrambling for ways to save your cash cow. You think sacrificing Josh Duggar will be enough. You think since Ma and Pa Duggar aren’t squirting out the kids (and, also, turned out to be hypocritical child sex abuse-hiders), you can just turn to exploiting the newlywed and newly-mom girls instead. Like that’ll make it all better. Like that’ll allow people to forget that you filmed a family that beat its children with a stick and sheltered a child molester (autoplay vid at link), and pretended you were good. You think people will forget that you knew, all along. Had to have known – at least about the sexual abuse, even if the Duggars somehow hid from you the blanket training by tempting babies to crawl off a blanket, then beating them with a plastic ruler when they followed their natural curiosity. You knew Josh Duggar was being monitored by the State of Arkansas for forcibly probing his sisters’ genitals, even if you didn’t see the parents forcing children to smile while they beat them with a stick. You were there rolling cameras when he sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Kinda a hard thing to miss, even if they kept the beatings on the down-low.
You could have pulled that Josh-featuring marathon when the story about his assaults broke, but you let it run, took days to pull the show, and even now haven’t done the right thing and cancelled it.
Your network is a cesspool. You’re nothing but a bunch of exploitative assholes who’d let children suffer just about anything as long as they make you enough money. Yeah, you’ve got the fig leaf of cancelling Honey Boo Boo when you learned mommy might be dating the man who’d just got out of prison for sexually assaulting her daughter. But that doesn’t cover you. It just shows what you should have done with the Duggars, long ago.
If there was any justice in the world, your network would be DOA after this. But alas, you’re not going away. Wretched cesspools of scum and evil that love to doll up far-right nonsense and call it good while ignoring the criminal elements within make more than enough money to survive – just look at Fox “News.” But maybe somebody there at TLC has a conscience. And maybe they’d like to somehow make this right, but they’ve gotta do it while making their evil overlords their filthy lucre. So here’s what you do:
Start a series exposing the dark underbelly of the Christianist movements.
Give the victims a voice.
There are thousands of them, you know. There are young women who were turned into virtual sex slaves by their employers (Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, and Steve Gothard, for a start). There are children denied their very identity as US citizens, unable to function as bona fide adults because their parents are so fucking paranoid or controlling, abusive assholes that they never got them birth certificates or any other documentation, or withheld those documents when their kids tried to leave. There are countless sexual abuse victims, some of whom are probably strong enough to get in front of a camera and tell their stories. There are horrific stories of physical abuse, and children disciplined to death, using the same horrific child-rearing book the Duggars promote, and used behind your backs. There are so many stories that need telling. So many evils to expose.
There are kids being taught absolute bunk. You could draw back the curtain on what the Duggars are teaching their kids – they use ACE, for one thing, which is full of the most incredible nonsense. We’re talking 8th grade earth “science” that’s a bunch of fairy tales told in a manner more suited for a Dick and Jane reader, something that not only tells the kids the earth’s less than 10,000 years old and the sun is shrinking, but swallows perpetual motion machine bunkum whole as long as somebody coats it in enough Jesus. These kids are not only being physically, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually abused, they’re being educationally abused, as well.
And you could tie all of it together with your other programs in showing how extreme religion warps people’s minds, leading them to do terrible things in the belief they are holy.
But what if you want feel-good stuff? There’s that, too! Why not follow the adventures of the Christian Patriarchy-Quiverfull kids’ version of the Underground Railroad? You could help fund their escapes, and follow up, showing how these sheltered, abused, desperate kids are helped to freedom and find a new life outside the cults. I’ve read a lot of survivors’ stories. I’d love to see them told, week after week, and hope given to the kids who are still trapped within the stifling confines of a religion that won’t let them breathe. And everyone loves a set of plucky young heroes doing the best they can against enormous odds, and winning. It’s a lot more exciting than watching a bunch of fake-smiling godbots make cookies for two dozen people. Again.
You’re still addicted to the great big family living simple and sweet? Hey, you’re in luck – you can probably find a family that’s escaped the cult, and has found a new way of being, one that really is joyful and awesome, with kids so adorable they’ll melt you in a puddle – even though they’ve become a bunch of heathens. Here’s one. I don’t know if they’d want to go on teevee, but surely there’s at least one brood out there that would enjoy it.
Any one of these themes would provide you with a fantastic replacement for the Duggars. But if you’ve gotta stay with Duggars… be subversive. Find out which one of them’s not straight, and wants to come out. Find out which one of them is doubting, and wants to live openly and honestly. Find out which one of them has a desperate need to escape before their brutally-scripted life does them in. Find out, gently, if one of the girls Josh assaulted wants to tell her story. Find those kids. Then give them their voice, and throw the support of your entire network behind them. Let them tell their own stories. Give them the power to free themselves. And let others find that freedom through them.
Drop the act. Drop the Duggars, certainly, but above all, quit pretending that these incredibly strict Christian Patriarchy families are so wholesome and wonderful. Stop painting over their darkness. Stop letting them feed their lies to gullible viewers.
Do the right thing.
Give the survivors their voice.