Circa 2005, the Duggars were different than they are now. For one thing, they had about 3 Average American Families-worth fewer children. They also had a much different look. Before they went “modern modest,” (which means long jean skirts, polo shirts with t shirts underneath and crunchy perms) their style was more Little House On The Prairie meets 1980s rural Southern beauty pageant. The family was also much more upfront about how creepy they were – before the series, when they starred in occasional specials, the Duggars openly talked about their involvement with the creepy ATI and Bill Gothard.
Of course, Traci and I were obsessed with them. Obsessed with their jumpers and with Michelle’s shirt collars the size of dinner plates (to “enhance the countenance,” she said, which means to “bring out your face”). We were obsessed with Michelle’s mullet perm and with the weirdly specific gender roles in the family. With their basement home-church and salty tater tot casserole. So, we did what every obsessed television viewer did in 2005: we started a Facebook group.
I think this was our first foray into online collaboration, and it was a resounding success. I can’t remember how many members there were, but I remember that it was absolutely ridiculous. Not to brag but it was the biggest Duggar group on all of Facebook. It was a tongue-in-cheek take-down of our favorite fundie family, but apparently fundamentalist homeschoolers rarely learn the nuances of humor and sarcasm. I think we were fairly forthright, really. Our pictures included random large groups of children and giant rabbit litters. Our first update was about how Michelle’s collars had recently increased in size (countenances now 95% more modest!). I think our second was about how Michelle was attending a seminar to get better at gazing adoringly at Jim Bob. Here was our group description:
The Duggars: Jim Bob, Michelle, Joshua, Jana Marie, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie.
Interests: buddies, jurisdictions, mulletty bangs, quiverfull family planning, homeschool conferences, fundamentalism, babies, submissiveness, the Lord, modesty, the J section of the baby name book, repealing female suffrage, tater tot casseroles, sonograms, hating science except for sonograms.
Unfortunately, Facebook moved from the group format to the page format, and our group got archived. Nowadays, the only members are us and a few people who evidently requested membership in the archives or some-such. Luckily, we still have a few wall posts visible.
Here are just a few things that people wrote in what we thought was an obvious social media roast of the Duggars. Original spelling and grammar are retained, except where crazy-incomprehensible:
A: you need a gigantic birth control. using your kids to further your income disgusting. and get a new hairdo you look like a country and western singer from the 50s.
B: If you feel that way, dont watch.
A: dont send me any more personal messages christian you religious freak. I dont watch, B, if the show goes off the air you will be making their welfare payments
B: then why did you join a “I dig the Duggars” page? and no I want be paying for thier welfare payments.
C: I love the duggers to call us what you want A. I’m proud to be a religious freak cause when I die I’m heaven bound . Thank God for us religous freaks.
[So, clearly we never moderated this group and also I haven’t looked at it for about 5 years. Does A think that I am a Duggar, or does she just think that I need “a gigantic birth control” anyway? Usually a regular-sized one will do the trick. But at least A is on our side, if misguidedly. B. did not read the group description and is evidently sending other members personal messages about Jesus. Thank God for “religous freaks,” indeed.]
A: Nice to see you have around twice as many members as the “anti-duggar alliance” group 😉 The Duggars seem like a lovely family and they are clearly providing a very good start for their kids.
B: This is technically a snarky anti-duggar group. You can tell by reading the “interests” section, which apparently not many people who joined this group did. Note the “repealing female suffrage” and “hating science except for sonograms” part. Holy shit.
C: B for the win.
Watch the writers of the following posts closely:
A: Wow, I didn’t realize Anna is already 6 months pregnant! Good for her. Also, I just watched the touching episode of Jim Bob’s dad’s passing. It really emphasized their belief in Jesus, and that they WILL see him again!
A: She isn’t 6 months pregnant, you moron! She is 3 months pregnant. I never was very good at math. Anyway, congratulations, Anna. May God bless you with many more!
[In case you missed it, this woman followed up her own post with a post calling herself a “moron” for being bad at pregnancy-math. I’m just going to leave that there without further commentary.]
I watch the show faithfully every week, even though I’m still waiting for that random meteor to hit their house. And yet, I’m hoping that Jim Bob can be on the 2012 Republican ticket.
[The writer of this comment (male) has the most serious mullet I’ve seen in my life. I can only assume that this commenter was a staunch Dem who was angling for a 100% chance of victory in 2012. For the record, I would have LOVED JB as a presidential candidate. This gentleman sounds way too confident that at some point, a random meteor will hit the Duggar house. I’m a bit nervous that he sent the meteor.]
There was a really really long back and forth between an older lady and some youths about homeschooling and stuff. She asks:
Just curious – are you guys all friends or is this part of an assignment or something? Very eloquent arguments.
[If you were wondering, teachers these days do usually assign students to engage in debates about reality stars with strangers on internet fan-boards. That was probably most of our traffic if I’m being all the way honest.]
I am thankful for the show and even though I may not get to meet them here I know I will in heaven.
[There are hundreds of posts in praise of the Duggars, but for some reason that one was just extra sad to me.]
OK, I was reading the description section above about the Duggars and now can’t determine if this is a fan page or not – at any rate, are the Duggars really in favor of repealing female suffrage?!
Yes, it is a blessing to see a women give her body to the Lord, for he is the giver and taker of life!
[I’m not positive what “a women” is but on the chance that I am one, how do I give my body to the Lord? Is this like giving your body to science? Because you have to be dead for that. ]
I just had my 4th. I hope to have many more. I don’t think I will make it to 17 but I LOVE watching their shows. Very cool
[This was posted 5 ½ years ago, so I checked this lady’s FB page. Only 5 kids. One baby in five years?! Slacker. In five years Michelle Duggar could have had at least four babies and already had them partially raised by her other kids.]
I’d love to sire 10-12 youngsters with a God-fearing woman. Just don’t have the financial security right now. Gotta love the Duggars.
[As of 6 years later this gentleman appears to have found a God-fearing woman. Not sure about financial security. He is wearing a tie though.]
If you’ve forgotten, these were the Duggars during those halcyon days: