17 Kids and Boring

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I admit that I watch the show Jon and Kate Plus Eight routinely, although I will also tell you that I only watch it because my wife watches it and I feel it is only fair because she watches so much baseball and football with me. Whether you believe that or not is up to you. I have also seen on numerous occasions the specials on the Duggar family, a family with more children than a grape vine has grapes. Possibly addicted to the uniqueness of such a big family I always made sure to watch the specials as the documentaries explore how the Duggars get from their Arkansas home to a gathering for other large families as well as how they progress on the building of their next home, a task they complete as a family rather than pay anyone to construct it. It is rather impressive.

But now TLC has gone too far, giving the family their own series as opposed to special documentaries. Why is that going too far? Because this family is flat out boring when you watch them for so long. Putting aside any opinions you or I may have about their religious preferences and whether or not we agree on their parenting philosophy of "more is better", it is painfully obvious that this family provides no personality worthy of being on tv each week.

Meet the Duggars. From left to right: Jim Bob (holding some kid who's name starts with "J"), Michele (holding another kid who's name starts with "J") and a whole bus load of kids whose names start with "J")

In the debut episode of 17 Kids and Counting ("Counting"? Yep...more on that later) the family took an airplane trip to New York City to appear on The Today Show on NBC for Mother's Day. Imagine taking a family of four or five to New York City and all the things that can distract you or your kids patrolling through the city and hailing a cab driver and ordering some lunch. Now imagine doing so with 17 kids. This sounds like a cool idea for a show, but the problem is I have seen this all before.

Jon & Kate Plus Eight has already done this to death with shows in which they travel to Chicago to be on the Oprah show, or taking a plan to Utah for a stay at a ski resort. Sure, 17 kids can be a lot more hectic than the 8 on Jon and Kate, but what Jon and Kate has is personality. If you have ever seen the show you would know that Jon is very mild mannered but can have a short fuse while Kate is nervous and easily irritated and panicky when it comes to her kids. Kate won't even let her kids walk around a hotel room without shoes on.

Michele Duggar on the other hand is very easy going and calm, even when disciplining her children, which from what I have seen is rarely needed. Both families have great family togetherness and values, but if I am going to watch a show about raising kids and the trials and tribulations that ensue, I want to see the kids get in trouble!

17 Kids and Counting has no misbehaving children. I mean it! No biting, no fighting, no scratching, no stealing, no yelling, no arguing. They all just get along. The most interesting storyline in the whole episode was when one of the younger Duggars (I won't even bother trying to figure out what the name of the kid was because there are so many of them) walked off in the airport with none of the other Duggar family members noticing. Immediately I am thinking of Home Alone 2, but there is no panic from the father, who we follow in search of his kid after hearing an announcement. Is Jim Bob really that calm and patient? He seemed to think nothing of the situation. Perhaps he thought that if the kid got lost that he and Michele could easily replace him? I shutter to think. If they had happened with the Gosselins then Kate would be tearing the airport apart trying to find her kid.

All is well that ends well though as the kid was returned to the rest of his family in the airport. Whew! What a relief.

Of course the big news that was supposed to be a surprise to the 17 kids on The Today Show was that Michele was pregnant. It is beyond me why any of the kids, especially the oldest ones, were the least bit surprised. If I were in that family I could probably predict the exact birth dates of my next 12 siblings. The whole thing has become such a joke. If you didn't know, each child's name starts with the letter "J". And now you can cast your vote for what the Duggars should name their next child, possibly because they have run out of ideas. Ironically though, each option to vote for (one for a boy and one for a girl) starts with "J". No write-in votes either. I was seriously ready to cast my vote for Juanita for a girl or Joakim for a boy.

Future episodes will document the engagement of Josh, one of the older boys as well as the family dating rules. That pair of episodes will be next week. The following week the show will document when another big family visits the Duggars. The entertainment value behind these episodes seems to be lacking.

Bottom line is that I used to like watching the Duggar documentaries, but enough is enough. I don't know if I can take anymore of it. The problem with the Duggar family is that they are a great subject for a documentary, but not fit to be the focus of a prime time tv series.

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