For years, People Magazine – and other weeklies, to be fair – treated the Duggar family with kid gloves, helping them prosthelytize to middle America and treating the family’s cult behavior like it was a mildly quirky version of Christianity. People Magazine’s calculation was “we want to keep the relationship safe for when the sh-t hits the fan, then we’ll get the exclusives.” And they have gotten some of the exclusives, and in recent years, People’s coverage has become more critical. But they’re still in it for access, let’s be real. They want the exclusives on what is now a federal prosecution of Josh Duggar, and they want access into the disgrace of the Duggars at large following the cancellation of their TLC show. All in all, I’m not surprised that this is People Magazine’s cover story this week. Some of this piece was just the history of Josh Duggar, but I found it interesting that they’re detailing how some of the Duggar kids have spent years distancing themselves from the cult life:
The crumbling cult: The Duggar family’s insular world, meticulously cultivated and controlled by patriarch Jim Bob, appears to be splintering. After oldest son Josh Duggar’s arrest in April on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography, TLC cut all ties with the Duggars and pulled the plug on Counting On — fracturing the unity of the once tight-knit family and leaving their future uncertain. “They aren’t as close as they once were because of all of Josh’s legal drama,” a family source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “It’s creating a lot of stress on them — although the majority of the family is acting like nothing has happened.”
The daughters pulling away: By October 2016, Jinger (Duggar) Vuolo along with her new husband Jeremy Vuolo, began to put distance between herself and her family by moving to Laredo, Texas, then to Los Angeles. The following year, older sister Jill (Duggar) Dillard — married to recent law school grad Derick Dillard — quit Counting On and said she had learned that Jim Bob was earning $25,000 to $45,000 an episode for the family’s participation while she’d never received any compensation. The 30-year-old mom of two, who hasn’t seen her parents in more than two years, told PEOPLE last year that she’s at peace with lifestyle choices that would have been unthinkable years ago. “We wanted more control of our own lives,” Jill said.
Josh’s arrest upset the family balance too: Jinger, 27, and Jeremy, 33, released statements saying they were “disturbed” by the child porn allegations against Josh and wanted “justice.” It was a bold departure from Jim Bob and Michelle’s statement, which read: “It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light … We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”
How Josh feels as he awaits trial: With his trial date just three months away, the family’s eldest sibling is feeling confident he won’t be charged, according to the family source: “He really thinks he’s going to get out of it.”
Jim Bob & Michelle are standing by Josh: And Jim Bob and Michelle “are very much standing by their son,” says the source. “Jim Bob always wants to sweep things under the rug,” the family source shares. “He’s never going to talk about the scandal because it’s bad for business.”
“He’s never going to talk about the scandal because it’s bad for business” – what business? I guess he’s still in real estate, and I’ve heard that he owns several properties in Arkansas. But is that a full-time job? I thought his main job was controlling his daughters and trying to be a reality-show star. That dream is dead. And I can only imagine how awful it is for those Duggar daughters too. Ugh. But still, “the majority of the family is acting like nothing has happened.” How utterly terrifying.
Cover courtesy of People, additional photos courtesy of Instagram.