Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets explores the controversial lives of the titular Duggar family, who starred in TLC’s 2008 reality show 19 Kids and Counting. Not only does the series address the family’s behaviors – including Josh Duggar’s history of sexual abuse – but it also dives into Bill Gothard and the cult-like practices of his church, The Institute in Basic Life Principle (IBLP).
The religious family’s program ran for 10 seasons before being canceled after Josh Duggar’s teenhood past of sexually abusing multiple girls came to light. Family patriarch Jim Bob Duggar struggled to save his family’s reputation and relationship with the network.
But, in the wake of the controversy, the reality channel released Counting On, which focused predominantly on the lives of the now-grown Duggar children. The series continued for eleven seasons until being canceled due to Josh Duggar’s arrest for child pornography.
Did you get a chance to watch the series? If not, Decider recommends that you do. In Johnny Loftus’s review of the Prime Video docuseries, he wrote that the show “offers first hand testimony about the day-to-day behaviors of its titular family, as well as the inner workings and intentions of an organization bent on remaking America in its own hyper-Christian, male authority-loving image.”
Told over four episodes, Shiny Happy People offers crucial insight from the direct victims of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s harsh behavior and the teachings of IBLP. Here are seven shocking revelations from the docuseries.
The Duggars Planned For Josh Duggar To Confess To Sexually Abusing Young Girls After He Was Married
In the first episode of the series, Jim and Bobye Holt, who are longtime family friends of the Duggars discuss their relationship with Josh Duggar, who was dating their eldest daughter. Bobye Holt shares, “Over the years, our relationship with him had grown. He was our first daughter’s boyfriend and we’d known him since he was a baby.”
The couple reveals that they had heard about the Duggar son’s teenhood past of sexually abusing young girls in 2003, years after it began. Jim Holt claims, “What Jim Bob had said to us is that Josh has gotten in trouble, he touched his sisters inappropriately.” Amping up the creep factor, Holt adds that Jim Bob Duggar admitted to using his daughter “as a carrot” to correct his son’s behavior, claiming that Josh Duggar was going to come forward with his past after the two were married. The Holts also claim that Bobye Holt was reprimanded by the Duggar family after referring to Josh Duggar’s behavior as “molestation.”
Cousin Amy King Says She Saw Duggar Children Beaten with Rod
Another key interview subject in Shiny Happy People is Amy King, a Duggar family cousin. King made appearances in the TLC program, alongside the Duggar children and the Holts, but was raised in an environment that was less strict.
In another episode of the docuseries, she reflects on the corporal punishment that the Duggar parents utilized to “train” their children. Ex-IBLP members and other professionals explain the religious practice, saying that the church endorsed the book To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. As a result, Michelle Duggar outwardly practiced “blanket training,” which involves placing a baby or toddler on a blanket and a tempting item out of reach. The child is instructed to remain on the blanket and is physically reprimanded when they move off the blanket to retrieve the item. Within the religion, it is thought that by practicing this type of punishment, the parent is “breaking” their child’s “rebellious spirit.”
King reveals that she had seen her cousins being beaten with a rod as a punishment under the guise of “encouragement.” She says, “They literally said, ‘You need to come into the room and we need to give you some encouragement,’ in reference to the Duggar parents. “But it was in the sweetest tone ever, like, ‘Do you need encouragement? I think you need encouragement.’”
Jill Duggar Says Jim Bob Duggar Coerced Her Into Megyn Kelly Interview
After Josh Duggar’s history of sexually abusing young girls came to light, the Duggars found themselves struggling to maintain their relationship with TLC. In order to repair the family’s reputation, Jill Duggar and her sister, Jessa Duggar, were interviewed by Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly to open up about their experience as victims of abuse. In the docuseries, Jill Duggar’s husband, Derrick Dillard, referred to the event as a “suicide mission.”
Jill Duggar tells the interviewers, “We were forced to kind of relive that trauma and downplay it. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done the Megyn Kelly stuff.” She expresses that she felt like she was “bearing the burden” of her family’s faults. The couple expressed that Jill Duggar’s participation wasn’t “voluntary” and she needed to “take the fall” so that the TLC show could continue.
TLC Forced Jill Duggar to Film Her Birthing Experience and Didn’t Pay Her
In another reveal, Jill Duggar says that she didn’t want to film her birthing experience for the reality show, especially not after witnessing the experiences of others within their family, specifically Anna Duggar, who gave birth in a tub in front of the camera crew.
Derrick Dillard says they ultimately “lost” and were given cameras to make a home video of the experience. In return, Jill and Derrick Dillard asked for the network to cover their out-of-pocket costs of the birth, but the network said no because they were “paying the family.” Jill Duggar alleges that she “didn’t get anything at that point.”
Jim Bob Asked Jill and Her Husband to Sign A Contract With His Production Company
Jill Duggar claims that she was eventually offered a “lump sum” of profits from their participation in the family reality shows if she was to sign a contract with Jim Bob’s production company that would last “forever.” The payment was allegedly similar to minimum wage. “In order to receive that you had to sign another deal with my dad’s production company, Mad Family Inc., and it would be like forever. We were automatically like, ‘We’re done,” she says about her and Derrick Dillard’s reaction to the offer.
Amy King Took Notes as A Teen About Submitting to Her Husband
In another harrowing scene, Amy King goes through her childhood notebook and reads off passages that she wrote based on the teachings of IBLP. Her past journalling included messages about submitting to her husband and the importance of loyalty. She asks, “How messed up is that?” King reads off passages that read “your husband is your leader,” and “loyalty can be demonstrated only in adversity.”
Jill Duggar Says Many “Go Through Hell” Before Leaving IBLP
The Duggar daughter got candid in Shiny Happy People about leaving IBLP, saying that many “go through Hell” before doing so. While not speaking directly about her own experience, she says, “A lot of times you have to go through Hell because it’s not until then that you would risk everything to get out of those situations.” She says that many will find power in making decisions for themselves, citing her nose ring. “Piece by piece, little by little, you do what you need to to like survive.”
Shiny Happy People is currently streaming on Prime Video.