‘19 Kids and Counting’ is an American reality television series that documented the life of the extensive Duggar family. The reality series was very popular among audiences, earning a reception that made it one of TLC Network’s most popular shows, that was until its cancellation in 2015. As fans and viewers would learn, the conservative Duggar family hid dark secrets from their formerly adoring public.
Despite an apparently scandalous end to ‘19 Kids and Counting’, neither the Duggar family nor TLC was prepared to end the entertainment, and through popular demand, returned to television in the form of a spin-off, ‘Counting On’.
Once again led by the patriarch of the Duggar family, Jim Bob, the controversial though popular family returned to entertain their many followers. Consisting of Jim Bob and his wife Michelle Duggar, along with their 19 children, the Duggar family drew viewers’ intrigue yet again, as ‘Counting On’ continued the family’s former glory.
As the years passed, the Duggar children effectively grew up in front of the camera, each earning their respective fame as reality television stars. Of particular note though, the eldest Duggars who were all born by the time the Duggar family earned their fame, drew the most interest. Sadly, some of the older siblings attracted attention for scandalous behaviour, while others earned the curiosity of viewers.
Unfortunately, the Duggar family secrets would yet again be exposed, with some of the children, in particular Jill and Jinger Duggar, speaking out against the lifestyle their parents adopted. As before, the Duggars’ now ruined reputation again led to the cancellation of the series that ended in 2021.
Regardless, some fans continue to show their support for the most beloved members of the family, keeping up with them through their social media portals, and of course the latest Amazon Prime documentary series, ‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’.
The new documentary, intent on spilling all the rotten details of the family, would once again bring the older siblings into the limelight, and as such, many have been wondering how Jill Duggar is doing today.
What To Expect
Diving into Jill’s life, both past and present, taking a brief look at her early life as she appeared in ‘19 Kids and Counting’, unfortunately also discussing the tragic abuse she experienced at the hands of her brother Josh. The discussion will include Jill’s views on her abuse, while also exploring the full events and consequences.
Following this, the discussion will take a closer look at how Jill Duggar’s love life took shape, as she later married Derick Dillard. After briefly revisiting Jill’s romance with Derick, and diving into their marriage, we will also discuss the couple’s difficulties, especially the disagreements they had with Jill’s family.
We will continue by taking a look at how life continued for Jill, sharing her latest inspirations after Jill adopted a new look. We will also be discussing her departure from the show, and her reactions to the latest release of ‘Shiny Happy People’.
A Conservative Early Life
Born on 17 May 1991, in Tontitown, Arkansas, as Jill Michelle Duggar, the second daughter and fourth child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Jill was raised under strict, conservative beliefs. As Jim Bob and Michelle would explain during the filming of the earliest Discovery Health documentaries, they wanted God to choose how many children they should have.
It quickly became apparent that the Duggars led a strongly religious-inspired lifestyle, adhering to extreme practices and elaborate beliefs that would eventually earn them fame as a curious intrigue surrounding their expansive family. Though they identified as Independent Baptists, many viewers considered the Duggars followers of the Quiverfull movement; despite denying any association with their religious inspirations, people nonetheless believed that the Duggars’ principles and lifestyle are quite similar and thus related to the Quiverfull movement.
The Duggars would later be inspired by the shamed minister Bill Gothard, conforming to the beliefs described as part of Gothard’s Institute In Basic Life Principles and The Advanced Training Institute’s teachings. Jim Bob and Michelle acted as advocates of their chosen conservative lifestyle for the many years they spent chasing fame on reality television.
As can be expected, the Duggar children were raised within the strict confines of their parents’ lifestyle choices. Some of the principals include being socially reserved, and as such all the Duggar children are homeschooled. They also have to adhere to chaperoned courting, an ideology that enforces that romantic relationships can only be formed with the consent of the family patriarch, and under his observation. All forms of media were also reserved from the family, limited to only a few monitored programs deemed as acceptable entertainment.
Other rules of conformity also require that men keep to strictly masculine styling, wearing their hair short and appropriate clothing. Women also had to conform to strict rules, guided by the preservation of feminine purity. They had to sport longer hairstyles and were strictly forbidden to wear revealing clothes, such as tank tops, and skirts that rise above the knee.
Jill lived her early life as part of the Duggar family, raised with these strict beliefs along with her many siblings. She made her first television appearance in 2004 at the age of 13, as the world looked in on the family’s everyday life in the Discovery documentary ‘14 Children and Pregnant Again’.
In 2006, Jill once again starred in two more reality television productions, the first, ‘Raising 16 Children’, aired shortly following the birth of Johannah, her then-youngest sister. This was soon followed by the release of ‘On The Road With 16 Children’, which documented a family holiday drive across the US.
By 2008, the Duggar family had earned their own, dedicated television series, then known as ‘17 Children and Counting’, which continued to grow as Jim Bob and Michelle welcomed more children into the world. For several years, the series would continue to grace our televisions, and viewers watched as the Duggar children aged in front of the camera.
— 19 Kids And Counting (@19kidsandcount) June 8, 2015
Unfortunately, ‘19 Children and Counting’ was cancelled in 2015, following Joshua ‘Josh’ Duggar’s confession to sexually abusing five girls, four of whom were his younger sisters. The revelation and truth about the eldest Duggar sibling surfaced shortly before the show’s cancellation. At the time, Jill turned 24 and had embarked on her adult life, though it would be revealed that the allegations against Josh started before ‘19 Kids and Counting’ first aired.
On 21 May 2015, In Touch Weekly Magazine published a 2006 police report that would reveal that Josh sexually abused five girls in 2002 and 2003. According to the report, Josh would inappropriately touch the girls while they were asleep, and on occasions while they were awake. At the time, Josh was 14 and 15 years old, and according to the gossip article, was never properly prosecuted for his crimes. By 2015, the limitations had already expired, and in 2016, the case turned cold.
In the wake of the 2015 revelations, many more of Josh’s secret scandals would surface, including accusations that an adult film star was his paid mistress. Fans of ‘19 Children and Counting’ did even more digging into Josh’s past, stumbling on old footage from the earlier documentaries in which Josh jokes about incestual sex. This video quickly went viral, and fans were appalled by the true nature it revealed in Josh Duggar’s character.
Instead of prosecuting their son, the Duggar family heads, Michelle and Jim Bob tried their best to protect Josh, who was admitted into several religious institutes to help him overcome his disgusting habits. Following the revelation, the Duggars would accuse the gossip publication that ran the story of obtaining the police report illegally, though their claims were refuted and later dropped.
Josh published a public apology, stating that he acted inexcusably, and resigned from both the show and his position at the Family Research Council. Despite the Duggar parents’ attempt to save their son, and the show, fans drew up a petition on Change.org, calling for the cancellation of the series. The show was immediately removed from viewing on all the networks where it was available, and all affiliated advertisers also withdrew from the show.
In June 2015, while appearing on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News talk show ‘The Kelly Files’, Jill identified herself as one of Josh’s victims, though it seemed as if she wanted to defend her brother. For the most part, Jill stated that she never knew about the abuse until her parents informed her about her brother’s behaviour. Jill would later state that she regrets doing the interview, but details concerning Josh’s case suggested that his victims were aware of what happened to them.
Anna, Josh’s wife, stated that she knew about Josh’s crimes two years before she married him, solemnly believing that the multiple rehabilitation programs Josh attended changed his life. The Duggar family recalls this as a dark time in their life, motivating them to achieve a deeper relationship with God.
Josh faced new charges in 2021, this time in regards to child pornography found in his possession, and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. It seemed that all the help in the world could not change Josh.
Of course, the latest revelations aired in the documentary ‘Shiny Happy People’, created even more shockwaves among gossip publications hungry for the truth about the Duggar family. Among these revelations, fans would learn that Josh’s habits started when he was twelve, and that he would keep his sins a secret under his parents’ guidance – Josh was instructed to only reveal his felony behaviour to girlfriends after marriage.
Naturally, Jill also revealed greater insights on ‘Shiny Happy People’, and had quite a lot to say, especially concerning her past trauma. Among some of her confessional insights, Jill revealed that she, along with her sister Jessa, was pressured into defending Josh during their ‘Kelly Files’ interview by Jim Bob, told that it would be in the better interest of the family, and the show.
Jill also confessed that her father, Jim Bob, tricked her into staying on with the show longer than she wanted to, by making her sign a contract under fraudulent invitation. Jim presented the contract to her the day before her wedding, and as Jill explained, she signed it believing it to be related to marital documents. Unfortunately, she signed to appear in more episodes, along with her husband, Derrick Dillard.
Despite the cancellation of ‘19 Kids and Counting’, Jill would once again make an appearance in the spin-off series, ‘Counting On’. That was until 2017, when Jill and her family decided to walk away from reality television completely.
Before returning to television, Jill and her sisters, Jenna, Jessa and Jinger, co-wrote the book ‘Growing Up Duggar: It Is All About Relationships’. The book documented most of their lives as part of the Duggar family, and was published in 2014, a year before the true scandals would become public. With the show cancelled, Jill attempted to move on with her life, even becoming a midwife in late 2015 but failed to become certified.
Currently, Jill has chosen to continue her career as an author, as her latest book, ‘Counting the Cost’, will be released in September 2023.
Jill and Derick
While most of the details about their romance is shrouded in obscurity, Jill and Derick shared a great deal of their love life with the audiences of ‘19 Children and Counting’, and later again in ‘Counting On’. From their initial courting, of course under the strict rules posed by Jim Bob, the couple’s wedding, and even the birth of their firstborn son, Israel, includes some of the life events Jill and Derick shared with the cameras.
Details about how Jill and Derick initially met remain vague, but following their courtship, the couple married in 2014, and have remained happy together since. There have hardly ever been rumours or suggestions of a split between them, and Jill often shares her marital experience and advice on her personal family vlog.
Among some of the advice Jill presented to her followers, she stated that a healthy, regular sex life would prove to be very beneficial for married couples, suggesting that they need this romantic time together up to five times a week.
The couple has since welcomed two more children to their family, sons Samuel, and the latest addition, Frederick. Sadly though, Jill experienced a miscarriage shortly before announcing her pregnancy with Frederick. About the miscarriage, Jill stated that she was heartbroken and will miss her child, but believes that she’s living blissfully in heaven. Although they could not tell the gender yet, Jill and Derick chose the name River Bliss for their deceased baby, as it best represented the child’s purpose.
As if suffering the loss of a child is not enough, the Dillard family would continue to experience difficulties, specifically with Jill’s family. While the show seldom played host to any on-screen disputes or drama, plenty of strife took place once the cameras stopped filming.
Aside from being bullied into appearing on “Counting On’, Jill also revealed on ‘Shiny Happy People’ that neither she, nor any of her siblings got paid for their participation on any of the shows. The blame for this, however, could squarely fall on Jim Bob.
As Jill confessed, for the first seven years of her adult life, she never received any payments, and after calling out TLC, she was directed to her father. Producers informed Jill that they paid the family, and should she have any further inquiries, she should speak with her father, Jim Bob.
According to a 2021 report, Jim Bob earned up to $850,000 per season, and he was the sole proprietor of the Duggar family’s finances, and as such was responsible for paying each of the family members. Jill included in her revelations that Jim Bob offered to pay Derick, her husband, $10 an hour for his appearance on the show.
Naturally, this caused plenty of arguments, and as Jill stills holds up, she never saw any money whatsoever. This, coupled with the lack of creative control Jill had over ‘Counting On’, which was supposed to strictly document the older Duggar siblings’ lives, her father’s manipulation, and their exclusion from important family events and announcements, was simply too much.
In 2017, three years before ‘Counting On’ would be removed from the air, Jill and Derick decided to part ways with the show, even going so far as to create a rift in the family, separating the Dillards from the Duggars. While this caused its fair share of drama on the series and amidst the Duggar family, fans and viewers were sad to see Jill leave.
Unfortunately, it would take several years before fans would learn the truth about why Jill left the show, and all of the previously mentioned reasons she explained on ‘Shiny Happy People’, were the motivation she needed to take back full control of her own life.
Now, following the birth of her youngest child, Frederick, Jill is planning on living life on her own terms while still honouring the religious teachings from her youth, by being the best mother and wife in her capabilities. Other than that, Jill wrote her personal memoir, and no doubt, there will be plenty of revelations about the Duggar family contained in its pages. Sadly, fans would have to wait until it hits the shelves before diving further into the cult-like life of the Duggars.
While things may have always seemed rosy and shiny within the Duggar household, the focal point of the reality television series ‘19 Children and Counting’, the truth showed their adoring public that dark secrets can lurk in anyone’s closet.
From sexual scandals to fraudulent manipulation, the Duggars have many secrets, but unfortunately for those intrigued by the lives of the Duggars, the shows, including ‘Counting On’, have been completely removed from the air.
The only mention fans can now find of the Duggars are, of course, the Duggar sisters’ publications, and the Amazon Prime documentary series, ‘Shiny Happy People’.
If this interests you, feel free to dive into the darker side and story behind the once-successful Duggar family.