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Idol Chatter

I was trolling around People.com yesterday looking for the poll asking readers to weigh in on what “J” name Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, of TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting,” should bestow on their recently announced nineteenth addition, when I noticed a most ironic bit of contextual advertising.
Using metadata and/or content to target the ad, the server spat out a Plan B emergency contraception advertisement next to a story detailing how Michelle Duggar manages such a large family. As adherents of the conservative Christian Quiverfull movement, the Duggars consider any form of birth control–even Natural Family Planning–anathema. The placement illustrated perfectly the modern ambivalence about marriage, family, parenting, etc. I chuckled and thought, “Wrong demographic.”


But the fact is that while many women react in astonishment, even horror, to the subsequent Duggar baby-on-the-way announcements–arguing that 19 children can’t possibly get quality time with their parents, that poor Michelle has been pregnant for a total of 14.25 years thanks to a movement that espouses Biblical Patriarchy, or that it’s just environmentally irresponsible to have such a big family these days–they still watch the show.
I come down in the carbon footprint camp, but still can’t help but watch if I happen to be flipping by TLC, or participate in the gimmicky name vote. While I disagree with the family’s philosophical underpinnings, I have to give the Duggars props. Not only is Michelle a medical miracle, soon to be giving birth to her 19th child at the age of 42, but the family is financially stable and they seem to have genuine affection for each other. The same can’t be, nor ever really could be, said for their TLC neighbors, Jon & Kate.
But, at what point will these births become more spectacle than special delivery? The 20th or 21st child? Will the public turn on the family and turn off “23 Kids and Counting”? In a way, the multiple shows featuring large families are already curiosities in a country where the average woman will give birth to 1.98 children. When, if ever, will viewers find these large families no longer a delight, simply too deviated from the norm? Or will we always be fascinated by families such as the Gosselins and the Duggars?
What do you think?
18 Kids and Counting

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