TV Review: Shiny Happy People

Note: Normally I would just include this with my monthly TV recap, but I've been too busy to get to the theater lately, and I hate having so many days between posts. Not to mention I have.....thoughts on this.

Shinny Happy People is a 4 part series currently streaming on Amazon Prime that focuses on the infamous Duggar family. You probably heard of them, they are religious fundamentalists who starred in a TLC show 19 Kids and Counting before it all came out that the parents had covered up child sexual abuse in their own home committed by their oldest son, Josh Duggar. He is now serving time in prison for possessing child pornography. The show also takes a look at the Institution of Basic Life Principles and its former head, Bill Gothard. The man the Duggars followed and many in their circle remain closely linked with.

Shinny Happy People bills itself as "Duggar Family Secrets" but it's Gothards IBLP that gets the most scathing treatment, and deservingly so. Brave survivors and former IBLP members make up the most interesting parts of the interviews. Sites like Recovering Grace, Homeschoolers Anonymous and Free Jinger have been covering IBLP for a long time, so I was very familiar with them going in, but hearing from these brave folks directly was something else. It's heartbreaking, but you also feel a sense of pride for these people you don't know. They made it out, they're thriving now. I'm just happy they're safe.

Some of the clips they aired from these religious conferences are horrifying. Especially a clip of Michael Pearl showing how to spank a child into submission. Fun fact about Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, they wrote a book called "To Train Up A Child" that essentially condones child abuse. Candace Cameron Burre used to recommend it on her website and gets big mad if you remind her about it. Oh, and Michael's "fun" honeymoon story on his website is very rapey. Obviously, all these religious fascists' are gems. 

I think this series is worth it to expose IBLP, but when it comes to the Duggars - the main attraction, it's really only the parents and Josh who get the hard hitting commentary. The 2nd oldest daughter, Jill, her husband, and her cousin and aunt are interviewed. Jill was once the golden child, her husband pursued her father for a "prayer partner" when he was a missionary, and was put into a courtship and eventual marriage with Jill. Their main gripe is not about the way they were brought up, but money. See, neither of these adults read the contracts they were signing when they appeared on the show. So TLC paid Jim Bob Duggar directly instead of them.  

This is my biggest gripe about the entire series. Had Jill and her husband been paid, they likely would not be speaking up the way they are now. The show also does not seem interested in addressing some of the very fucked up things the other adult children have said. When Jill's husband mentions finding out that they no longer had a relationship with TLC from browsing online - the director doesn't bring up the fact that he was tweeting transphobic remarks about Jazz Jennings - a minor at the time and another star on a TLC show. That seemed to have far more to do with their firing then money. While the Duggars and many IBLP members will use Gothard as their scapegoat, they are still following many of his teachings. They are still radically anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ+

And this is what ultimately frustrates me about the Duggars, The Bates (another mega family that was on TV) and these other families that TLC chose to showcase despites all the red flags. They may not wear their prairie skirts anymore. They might dabble in pants, nose rings, and hair dye, but deep down they have the same ugly beliefs. And they want to force those beliefs on all of us. My biggest hope is that some of these kids venture out and read the accounts of those who have changed. Who no longer hate. You don't even need to stop believing in Jesus. He's pretty liberal himself, honestly.

Is this doc worth watching? Of course, even if the showrunners have no interest in digging deeper with the rest of the Duggars. Not everyone is going to have the familiarity I had with them going in. (which is embarrassing to admit. Trust me, I'm cringing as a type) It is absolutely worth it to see what a horrific shit-show IBLP is and to hear the stories of those who survived it.


  1. I wondered how did a channel like TLC went from the Learning Channel to producing shit like Honey Boo-Boo and families with too many kids? I don't know if I'll watch this. Plus, I think Jesus Christ prefers to take a piss on all of these people. I hate these religious fanatics. They need to be kicked in the face!

    1. I do too. I didn't grow up super religious, I was taught that religion was a personal thing not to be pushed on other people. TLC is really the bottom of the barrel for programing now (aside from Dr. Pimple Popper and My Feet Are Killing Me - two guilty pleasures of mine that I wish were on another network) I hate that they share the same streaming service as HBO and TCM now. They're not worthy.

  2. I was not at all surprised when the truth came out. The religious zealots are often hiding dark crimes and are racists, judgemental a holes. The Candace chick needs to disappear. These are the same nuts who think its perfectly fine to carry oozies around. I can't stand these types but I would watch the show if I could. I read the other comment about how the Learning Channel changed. They all did! A & E used to be about the arts and the biography show where they showcased many famous people from Lilian Gish, Cary Grant and JFKbto Santa Claus but then it went downhill. The History Channel shows crap about cars and that horrible show ..Pawn Shop whatever. They changed for the worse

    1. That network really did change for the worst and now their CEO is ruining HBO and TCM along with them. They need to fire him. I'm never surprised when shit like this comes out about religious people. It's a pattern.

  3. As someone who is aggresively anti-theistic, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a temptation to watch. I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but there is a sense that this is a shitshow that would simultaenously entertain and enrage me.

    1. That's usually where I fall with people like this. Enraged, yet entertained at the stupidity of it.


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by, let's talk movies!
(comments are moderated to reduce spam)

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Batman

Thursday Movie Picks: Wedding Movies

Random Ramblings: The Radio Flyer Conundrum