For years, the Duggar family were reality TV sweethearts. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggard parented 19 extremely well-behaved children, and the TLC show documenting their day-to-day lives had an international audience. It all started crashing down in 2015 when allegations against one of their sons, Josh, came to light.
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Six years later, Josh was convicted of possessing child pornography. Prime Video’s newest documentary tells this story and digs deeper into the cult the Duggars were proudly promoting.
Where can you watch Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets in the UAE?
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is now streaming on Prime Video in the UAE. The limited series features four episodes, each focusing on different facets of the Duggar family and the ultra-conservative organization, the Institute of Basic Principles. The episode lengths vary from 36 to 51 minutes.
In the Middle East, Amazon Prime Video is included in your Amazon Prime membership, costing AED 16 per month or AED 140 per year. Besides the streaming service, you will also get free deliveries and access to Prime Gaming- click here for a free 30-day trial.
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets review
This isn’t just a documentary about the Duggar family’s fall from grace, nor is it solely centred on one young man’s horrific crimes against his sisters. It’s a deep dive into an ultra-conservative Christian organization started by Bill Gothard, The Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP). Until 2021, the IBLP had its own Bible-based homeschooling program, the API.
Throughout the four episodes, we hear from members of the Duggar family, including Jim Bob and Michelle’s daughter, Jill. But also several other people raised within the IBLP. And what they have to say is hard to hear and more dystopian than any Sci-Fi writer could think of.
The Duggars were part of the “Quiverfull movement,” teaching IBLP followers to have as many children as humanly possible so they could out-breed everyone else. Other disturbing teachings compare training babies to training dogs (but dog training methods are kinder than what these people were doing to their kids). Physical punishment was encouraged, while sexual abuse was always the victims’ fault, with no exceptions.
We also get some interesting reveals about Duggar’s financial dealings during the show. According to Jill, the kids were not paid for their appearances on the hit TLC series. Even after reaching adulthood, Jim Bob signed contracts on their behalf as if they were still minors. And when some did ask for remuneration, their father offered the minimum wage equivalent. Making matters worse, some adult children had to rely on food banks to feed their families. All while still appearing on the show and knowing their parents were millionaires.
Each episode of the documentary throws explosive revelations, one after the other, about the Duggars and the man behind the IBLP. It’s hard not to find these stories believable, and it’s hard not to be shocked at what these victims are describing. The series intertwines with videos IBLP members recorded giving instructions on “properly spanking” their children. There’s even one extremely hard-to-watch clip of a “pastor” giving an on-stage spanking demonstration on a little boy. It’s disturbing.
Nothing shiny or happy about this series
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is not easy to watch, nor meant to be lighthearted entertainment. It’s a harrowing piece of media that made me question why would a network formerly known as The Learning Channel would platform someone like Jim Bob Duggard in the first place.
The popular show portrayed him and his wife as the pinnacle of loving, wholesome parents. At the same time, while the show was on the air, Michelle Duggard was recording seminars describing how she trained her babies during “blanket time.”
As disturbing as Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is, it makes for compelling viewing. At the very least, it shows that reality tv stars and even the so-called family vloggers only portray a highly sanitized version of themselves. Sometimes monsters do hide in plain sight. Josh Duggar sure did.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.