The 6 Biggest Reveals About the Duggar Family in “Shiny Happy People”

Amazon / Courtesy of Prime Video

Content warning: this post contains details of child sexual assault by a family member and pedophilia.

Amazon Prime Video’s newest docuseries, “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets,” dives into what it was really like for the Duggar family, who rose to fame thanks to TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” The documentary, released June 2 on the streamer, not only focuses on the family but also on how they were the poster family for the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian organization founded in 1961 by Bill Gothard with extremely conservative policies. The documentary features interviews with cousin to the Duggars Amy King and most notably with Jill Duggar Dillard, one of the Duggar kids, and her husband, Derick Dillard. Jill and Derick (who married in 2014) are open about what it was like to grow up on camera while being in this conservative system and to live under the reign of family patriarch Jim Bob Duggar. Representatives for Jim Bob and TLC did not respond to POPSUGAR’s request for comment on the allegations.

Much of the documentary is about IBLP and people who’ve left the religious group. But in the parts that focus on the Duggars, a lot of time is spent discussing the eldest son, Josh Duggar. In 2015, while the show was airing, news broke that Josh had molested some of his sisters while they were sleeping between 2002 and 2003. Jim Bob and Michelle found out at the time when Josh confessed to them, per the Washington Post. In 2015, Josh apologized for his actions and Jim Bob, Michelle, and some of the girls – including Jill, who was one of the alleged victims – defended him. In 2021, Josh was arrested on federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. He was found guilty that December and is currently serving a 12-year, seven-month prison sentence, per Buzzfeed News.

All four episodes of “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” are streaming now, but these are the biggest revelations about the Duggar family in the docuseries.

Jim Bob Duggar Wanted Josh Duggar to Own Up to His Abuse – After He Was Married

The documentary features an interview with the Duggar family friends Jim and Bobye Holt. The couple claim Josh was dating their eldest daughter, Kaeleigh, in 2003 when they learned about Josh’s abuse. Jim, a former Republican state representative and state senator from Arkansas, alleges in the series, “He had apparently been doing it since he was 12, but we found out about it when he was 15.” Jim alleges that Michelle told the parents, “We were gonna have Josh confess to Kaeleigh once they were married.” Bobye ultimately testified for the prosecution in Josh’s child pornography possession trial in December 2021.

Jill Duggar Dillard Never Wanted Josh Duggar’s Abuse to Go Public

In the doc, when talking about her brother’s abuse, Jill is clear that she wanted the matter to stay private for the well-being of the victims. “I believe strongly that victims should always be protected. Victims should always be cared for,” she says. The story was made public without the victims’ control, she claims, explaining, “I’d rather have some say in what that looks like.”

Jill Duggar Dillard Claims She Was Pressured to Defend Brother Josh Duggar in an Interview

“I don’t even like to talk about it because it’s not something that I’m proud of,” Jill says in the doc about a 2015 Fox News interview she and sister Jessa did with Megyn Kelly after Josh’s abuse became public. She alleges she did technically “volunteer” to do the press, but that she really felt “obligated” to do it in order to help the family keep the show. “As far as recovery and damage control, you just feel like a burden and the weight falls on you to help,” she explains.

Derick says of Jill’s involvement, “I would not call it voluntary,” and said Jill was “collateral damage” in the family’s quest to save face.

Jill Duggar Dillard and Derick Dillard Unknowingly Signed a Contract For the Show When They Got Married

When filming “Counting On,” Jill and Derick were living as missionaries in El Salvador. The show wanted them to return to the US for filming. Jim Bob reportedly sent Jill a contract she and Derick had signed in which they had agreed to five more years of the show. At first, Jill says she thought it was a forgery. “That’s when we realized that I had signed this the day before we got married,” she says. As Jill tells it, the day before she was married, the contract was on “the end of the kitchen table,” and everyone was told to sign it. “We were literally running through the kitchen, and it was like whoever you could grab on the way through. I didn’t know what it was for,” she says.

Jill Duggar Dillard Didn’t Want to Film Her Son’s Birth For the Show

Jill welcomed her eldest child, Israel, in 2015, and she did not want to film her labor and delivery for the show the way her sister-in-law Anna had. Jill and Derick lost the fight about it and used equipment to film inside the hospital. They asked TLC to pay for the out-of-pocket costs for Israel’s birth, but TLC allegedly said they would pay the family instead.

Jim Bob Duggar Did Not Pay the Family For “19 Kids and Counting”

In the documentary, Jill and Derick allege that TLC only paid money to “the family” – i.e. Jim Bob, and he did not spread that money to the kids. Even when “19 Kids and Counting” turned into “Counting On” starring primarily Jill and Jessa and their families, their payments for the series still went to Jim Bob.

When Jill and Derick challenged this situation, they claim Jim Bob was going to pay them a lump sum – if they signed another contract to continue filming. They refused and claim they have never seen any money from the series.

If you or someone you know would like to speak with someone who is trained to assist sexual assault survivors, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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