The trailer for season 10 of Counting On promised some exciting moments (Ear biting! Maternity shoots! Date nights! Pants!), and the October 15 premiere definitely delivered. In the first episode of the new season, “Who’s the Most Romantic?” grandparents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar stepped up to babysit eight of their 12 grandchildren so that four of the married couples could head out on date nights. But they weren’t just any date nights. Instead, the family had set up a competition to discover (can you guess?) who’s the most romantic.
Apparently, the TLC show is now doubling as couples’ therapy for their viewers, because the family spent the whole episode doling out advice about how to make your marriage a priority even when you’re “living diaper change to diaper change.” But because they’re the Duggars, they had to make even that weird, and so they pitted every member of the family against each other. John David, Jessa, Joseph and Josiah Duggar and their spouses would be facing off as they competed to plan the best dates on a $60 budget. The other rules? They could only go an hour away, they had to be back in four hours, and they had to take photos and videos as proof. The romance was real.
Before the dates actually start, though, the family has to do a quick talking head segment about what is ~romance.~ If you ask Tyler Duggar, it’s steak dinners and anything cowboyish. If you ask Jackson Duggar, it’s … hunting? Because you have to sit there for two hours and wait for the deer to come? Big sister Jana Duggar is like, “Uh, I don’t think so, bud.” Jeremy Vuolo‘s idea to sweep Jinger Duggar off her feet would be hiring a private chef to come cook for them, and we’re not not about that life, but we’re pretty sure you couldn’t get that kind of service for under $60.
Back in reality, Jessa and Ben Seewald are heading out to a candy factory to make their own chocolate truffles. Josiah and Lauren Swanson are exploiting Joy-Anna Duggar‘s connection to the Fort Rock Family Camp so that they can go horseback riding for free. Joseph and Kendra Caldwell are doing a “penny flipping date” and planning to have a picnic wherever they end up. And John David and Abbie Grace Burnett are cheating by flying to a lake where they will grill their own steak dinners. Apparently, fuel costs aren’t included in the budget, and he’s happy to fly right through that loophole.
For the first half of Joe and Kendra’s big night out, they’re pretty much just driving around, and everywhere they go looks pretty miserable for a picnic. When the producers point out that their ~risky~ date idea means that they could end up anywhere (and Jeremy throws some serious shade with his, “Risky? Well, they’re in Arkansas,” comment), the two seem open to the adventure … and yet somehow they end up parked right outsize a beautiful gazebo, so they’re definitely cheating, too.
Ben and Jessa are pretty sure they’ve got the competition in the bag on their date. “Chocolate is the essence of romance,” Ben says, and then repeats himself several times over the course of the four hours. The beard net he has to wear while making chocolate, however, is decidedly less so. The date inspires the producer to ask all of the couples what kind of bonbon each of their partners would be, and the segment gives us such gifts as Abbie saying that John David would be a “fruity” truffle, Lauren calling Josiah a “lemon” before hastily clarifying that it’s not because he’s sour and Jim Bob dubbing Michelle “cream” because she’s “creamy.” Gross. Jinger also says that Jeremy would be “the sweetest one,” to which he responds, “Behave yourself, girl,” and we feel like we just got a glimpse at their foreplay.
On the horse riding date, Lauren’s horse starts acting up. Even after she and Josiah swap, the animal threatens in a preview to throw him off, but they soon get him back under control and head back through the woods. The moment could be romantic if it weren’t so miserable and gray out, but according to Josiah, sometimes the couple just sits and stares at each other for date nights, so we guess this must still be an improvement. JD and Abbie have a sweet flight out to the lake where he breaks out a miniature barbecue and starts grilling up some dinner, and we think they should win based alone on the fact that a Duggar husband is cooking something other than “Pop’s BBQ Tuna Fish.”
That’s not all, though. While they’re out, they’ve each got a list of conversation prompts prepared by JB and Michelle. As they compete for the title of the most magical date, the couples will have to discuss — drum roll, please — finances. OK, OK, they also talk about their wedding vows and which one was tested most as well as learning to compromise and which of their dates was their favorite (Josiah says all of them, which effectively means none of them), but seriously, they did have to talk about finances. Luckily, JD and Abbie’s love can triumph over any boring conversation topic, because they’re sure to let the audience at home know that all of their kisses last more than two seconds. Apparently, pecks are banned in their marriage.
Back at home, the grandparents are chasing after their eight little ones and things are getting wild when the grandkids start biting each other. Apparently, Anna Duggar and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-On-Camera also dropped their kids off for the evening just so that Jim Bob and Michelle would really be overwhelmed. The patriarch of the family announces that he wants to be the “fun grandpa” and run around with the kids to tire them out, but he seems to be the one winded by the time Spurgeon is telling Meredith that “she’s a bad girl!” The producers also ask Jim Bob and Michelle to name all of their grandkids in birth order, and they fail miserably, even briefly forgetting Felicity exists at all.
When the (grown up) kids finally get back, it’s time for superlatives to be doled out: most thrifty, most creative, date JB and Michelle would like to go on and, the best of all, most romantic. Jessa and Ben are sure they’ve got it in the bag (after all, chocolate is the ~*~*~essence~*~*~ of romance, you guys!!!), but so does pretty much every other couple. At the end of the day, though, they win the date that JB and Michelle would most like to go on. Josiah and Lauren score the thrifty award for their free date, though, and they’re pissed. JD and Abbie are awarded the most original date (for a steak dinner? OK), and they’re also total haters about it, but they’re right to be. They 100-percent should’ve won, and Joy and Austin Forsyth agree, so you know we’re right.
That prize goes to Joe and Kendra, though. At first we were like WTF, but once they explained it, it actually made sense. If you forget the whole penny flipping portion of the date (that is, the central concept), they did have a lovely picnic inside of a gazebo in a sweet little park as they fed each other cheesecake. Put it like that and it sounds like something out of a movie — and they were so humble about being dubbed the “most romantic” that we couldn’t possibly hold it against them.
In the episode’s B-plot, Jinger and Jeremy are first starting to broach the subject of moving to Los Angeles. The idea came up when the pastor started talking about pursuing “further theological training,” and they ran with it from there. As Jinger has mentioned about a thousand times, she always thought it would be “neat” to live in a big city. In the past, her family members tried to downplay that dream, but now, it’s finally coming true. Ben admits that he’d also like to live in a big city one day, but Jessa’s bug-eyed look alone pretty much shuts that down.
Once they land in the city, Jinger and Jeremy adapt to their new west coast lives pretty quickly by immediately starting to complain about the traffic. Hey, have you guys heard that L.A. has bad traffic? It was totally new information to us. “It is really pretty, though,” Jinger says as they drive down the 101. OK.
Next up on Counting On? Jeremiah asks Jedidiah if he has any “pre-courting announcements to make” (read: Does he have a crush?), and producers ask Jana if she ever feels the pressure to get married. We’re gonna go ahead and guess that answer is a yes.
Check out the gallery below to see some of our favorite moments from the episode presented with almost no context.
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