The Duggar Phenomenon: Why We're Obsessed With America's Biggest Family

There's no doubt that the Duggars have become a cultural phenomenon. TLC's reality show 19 Kids and Counting is in the midst of a record-breaking ninth season. The season premiere was ranked No. 1 for cable shows in prime-time with women, and was the highest-rated premiere for the series ever.

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So what is the deal with the Duggars, and why can't America get enough of them?

Let's start with the obvious -- they have 19 children, and like Michelle says in the opening clip of each episode, she delivered every one of them. It's such an insanely out-of-the-ordinary thing that we can't help but rubberneck a little bit. We can't seem to get enough of the bizarre, and one family having so many children is definitely strange, especially in a time when many parents opt for the "one and done" approach.

More from The Stir: If Our Kids Treated Us Like the Duggars, We'd Have 19 of 'Em Too

Not only do the Duggars have a whole lot of children, they have a whole lot of well-behaved children. Some of their parenting techniques have certainly raised eyebrows, like blanket training (when you put a mobile baby on a blanket and swat his thigh and say "no!" when he crawls off, thus teaching him to stay safely on said blanket), but parents are always in awe of those who seem to "have it all together."

They also have that wholesome aspect. In a world gone mad with drugs and sex and violence, it's almost like the Duggars are a reminder of simpler times, when family came first, and a mixed drink was considered chocolate milk.

More from The Stir: 12 Controversial Duggar Quotes That Totally Freaked People Out

The happy factor. All those well behaved children seem genuinely content. How is that possible when they don't have a TV, are basically sheltered from the outside world, restricted from public swim events in the heat of Arkansas summers, and aren't allowed to date as teenagers? What is going on here? We must watch so we can find out.

Even harsh critics of the Duggars can't seem to look away. Like Taylor Swift says, "Haters gonna hate hate hate," and that certainly seems to be the case with the Duggar family. Some people just want to pick them apart, look for reasons to call them hypocrites, or just generally mock them, but the ratings don't care whether the viewer is a fan or an anti-fan.

Basically, America loves the Duggars because they're different. They're a family of extremes -- size, religion, modesty, hair -- and that inspires extreme emotion among viewers. Ask around, and chances are that few people have neutral feelings about the 19 Kids and Counting crew. People either love them, hate them, or have very mixed emotions about them. But however you feel about them, you know you just can't look away.

Why do you follow the Duggar family?

 

Image via Duggarfam/Instagram

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