Jill Duggar Dillard is going on the record and exposing the “living nightmare” of what reality was like for “TV’s favorite mega-family.”
She’s not bashing her famous family or Christianity, but she is aiming to shine a light on what she sees as some harmful unbiblical beliefs that were taught in their community.
“Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” is a four-part docuseries premiering on June 2 on Amazon Prime that will give viewers an honest take on the Duggars and the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), according to a press release from Prime Video.
“For the first time, Jill Duggar Dillard will go on the record with her own story and be joined by family and close family friends who witnessed what went on behind the scenes firsthand,” it reads.
The Duggars first made their appearance in the national spotlight in 2008 when “19 Kids and Counting” premiered on TLC. It was soon followed by the series “Counting On” in 2015.
The Arkansas family relished values like traditional gender roles, discipline, and respecting parents, but the Amazon Prime series dives into how the IBLP, founded by pastor Bill Gothard, was off-base and a contributing factor to the family’s theological imbalances and scandals.
TLC dropped “19 Kids and Counting” and “Counting On” after news broke that Josh Duggar, the oldest of the siblings, molested underage girls as a teenager. Last year, he was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography.
“A number of ex-IBLP survivors bravely come forward and reveal the abusive practices that kept them in a living nightmare,” reads the press statement.
Olivia Crist, an executive producer of the Prime docuseries, told PEOPLE Josh’s scandal is “the tip of the iceberg in this group.”
“There are so many thousands of families that have been hurt by this and have not had a voice, not for lack of trying, for many, many, many years,” Crist told the outlet.
“I mean, I hope, the takeaway is really hearing the survivors, hearing what they’ve been through,” she continued. “And then, I think also for people still in, trapped in a fundamentalist or IBLP group, that hopefully this is a chance for them to say, ‘Hey, it is possible to get out and that they’re not alone.'”
Dillard who is the fourth of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s 19 children says she feels compelled to speak out.
She and her sister were both sexually molested by Josh Duggar when he was between 12 and 15 years old, PEOPLE reports.
“There is a story that’s going to be told, and I would rather be the one telling it,” commented Dillard in the trailer. “We were part of IBLP as early as I can remember.”
The Duggars’ sixth child, Jinger Duggar Vuolo, told ChurchLeaders.com that their family was heavily influenced by Gothard’s teachings.
“[He] came on the scene as the man with every answer to every problem in your family and how you could have a family that was set up for success long-term,” she said. “He promised that if you lived by his seven basic life principles, that God would bless your life. And not only would he bless your life, but you would be kept from harm.”
But Gothard eventually stepped down from IBLP in 2014 amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Crist contends that certain ideas taught by IBLP “breeds abuse”, saying it’s a system that has a “lack of sex education”.
“I think throughout the show, we see that in so many different areas,” she explained. “And systems like this, that’s, unfortunately, how they’re set up with this authoritarian [notion] ‘men have all the control and women and children have to be submissive to that control’ — I think that is just a recipe for absolute disaster.”
However, Jim Bob and Michelle say Gothard’s teachings “changed their lives” in many positive ways. They were even featured as speakers at an IBLP conference in 2021.
But Crist pushes back, saying the docuseries will “go into a lot of different types of abuses that happened” due to the group’s teachings.
Executive producer Julia Willoughby Nason told PEOPLE she hopes the docuseries will encourage others to speak out.
“Even though we show a dark side of a shiny veneer, we hope that there’s also light at the end of the tunnel in terms of having a place to land gracefully if people decide to step out and are still in any shape and form of abuse out there,” she said.
The four episodes in “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” will premiere on Prime Video on Friday, June 2.
CBN News has reached out to the IBLP for a statement. At the time of publication, they had not responded.
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