The couple — who share 19 children — called the project “sad” in a statement shared via their website on Thursday, June 1. “Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format,” the pair wrote. “This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days.”
Jim Bob, 57, and Michelle, 56, continued to reflect on their family’s highs and lows in the spotlight. “We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting,” they wrote. “We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”
The twosome concluded: “Through both the triumphs and the trials we have clung to our faith all the more and discovered that through the love and grace of Jesus, we find strength, comfort, and purpose.”
The TLC alum’s message came shortly before Prime Video’s four-part series premiered on Friday, June 2. Jill, 32, is one of many former followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) sharing their experience on camera, along with her husband, Derick Dillard, and cousin Amy Duggar.
While the episodes focus on the inner workings of the controversial religious organization founded by Bill Gothard, it also explores the Duggar family’s public scandals. The big brood rose to fame in 2008 after the debut of their series 19 Kids and Counting (originally 17 Kids and Counting).
Jim Bob and Michelle’s reality show ran for 10 seasons before it was canceled in 2015 after their eldest son, Josh Duggar, was accused of molesting several girls when he was a teenager. Jill and her sister Jessa Duggar were later identified as some of the victims. At the time, the duo broke their silence on the scandal in a sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly and claimed that they had “forgiven” their brother, now 35, for his actions. (Josh is currently in prison for receiving and possessing child pornography following his 2021 arrest.)
In the new docuseries, Dillard, 34, referred to his wife’s TV appearance as “a suicide mission.” Jill, for her part, confessed that she wished the situation had been handled more privately.
“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done the Megyn Kelly stuff,” she told the cameras. “I felt like I was in a place again of, like, bearing the burden and the weight … you feel obligated to help.”
The Arkansas native added that she didn’t feel “proud” of the interview. “If I hadn’t felt obligated to like, one, do it for the sake of the show and two, do it for the sake of my parents, I wouldn’t have done it,” she argued.
Jill and her husband — who share three sons — left reality TV behind in 2017. Three years later, they opened up about choosing to depart from the family’s spinoff series, Counting On, which ran from 2015 to 2020.
“We found out we didn’t have as much control over our lives as it related to the show and stuff, as we needed,” Jill claimed in a 2020 YouTube video, adding that she and the lawyer “don’t regret” their decision.
Money played a part in the pair’s exit. The Counting the Cost author revealed in Shiny Happy People that she was “never paid” for her work on reality TV. “No check, no cash, no nothing. … We were taken advantage of,” she said.
After a dispute about filming, Jim Bob allegedly offered to give the older Duggar kids a small sum for appearing on their show. “In order to receive that, you had to sign another deal with my dad [and] his production company, Mad Family Inc.,” Jill claimed. “It would be [for], like, forever. We were automatically like, ‘We’re done.'”
Shiny Happy People is available to stream on Prime Video.