When it comes to very large, slightly controversial families, most people’s minds go straight to the Duggars. The 19+ member family has been on our TV screens for years now with their various TLC reality shows and spin-offs. Most of the Duggars’ appeal lies squarely in the uniqueness of the family — there’s just no other family quite as large and baffling as theirs. Well, except maybe the Bates.

If you’ve watched 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On, you’re probably already well-acquainted with the Bates family and maybe even fangirled over rumors that Jana Duggar was being courted by Lawson Bates, or lowkey shipped her with Nathan like these obsessed fans. Maybe that temped you to watch Bringing Up Bates to get your fundie fix. If not, we have everything you need to know.

There’s more to the Bates than being Duggar clones. In fact, fans of both families have started something of a rivalry amongst them, with some firmly on Team Duggar or Team Bates. The pro-Bates fans say the Tennessee family is more laid back and “normal” than the Duggars, and thus, more relatable. But how true is that?

If you’re in Team Neither or Team I Can’t Make Up My Mind, here’s a complete rundown of each family, including their similarities, as well as their differences.

They both have the same amount of kids, but one is better at names.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

Both families don’t believe in contraceptives, preferring to leave it up to God to decide how many children they have. Well, it appears the number God prefers is 19, because that’s how many kids they both have. However, Kelly Bates has had a few more pregnancies than Michelle Duggar since she didn’t give birth to any sets of twins like Michelle, who gave birth to two sets, Jana and John-David and Jeremiah and Jedidiah.

Unlike the Duggars, however, the Bateses haven’t named their children ridiculous names that all start with the same letter. They even named their oldest daughter the delightfully radical name Michael (although they call her Michaella).

However, the Duggars outdo the Bateses when it comes to grandkids. The Bateses have six grandkids and the Duggars have ten with two more on the way.

When it comes to fashion, one family is taking over.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

Both families are huge advocates of “modest” clothing, and both families don’t traditionally allow women to wear pants. Instead, the women wear jean skirts with billowy tops. However, a few of the Duggar girls have shocked fans by transitioning to pants-wearers. Jill, Jessa, and Jinger have all been spotted in two-legged garments, and Jill even got herself a nose ring. Surprisingly edgy! It didn’t take long for Alyssa Bates to follow suit, but the Duggars still seem to have better style overall.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

They have surprisingly different views on courtship.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

The Duggars’ courtship rules are infamous. Courting, or dating with the intent of marriage, is what all the older Duggar kids go through, and there’s a long list of stipulations tied to it also. For one, they can’t hold hands or kiss before marriage, and they can only do side hugs. Their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, keep a close eye on them, monitor their text messages, and accompany them on chaperoned dates. The whole process normally lasts a few months. Once an engagement is on the table, the couple is usually rushed down the aisle as soon as possible.

As for the Bates, shockingly, their courtship rules are, dare we say, laid back? When it comes to the laundry list of Bates/Duggar similarities, this is one where they’re glaringly different. Although the Bateses also don’t believe in kissing or holding hands before marriage, they also understand that kids are kids and sometimes mistakes happen.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

“We don’t think there is a mold that everyone has to fit in (i.e. do it this way, in this amount of time),” Kelly said in 2013. “It doesn’t make sense to tell couples they should have to rush and get married in three months either. The couple misses so much that way.”

Wait, that sounds very reasonable. And not to start some drama or anything, but did Kelly just shade the f–k out of the Duggars and their draconian courtship practices? Yes, we think she did! Oh, but it gets better:

“We think if a couple is old enough to think about getting married, they’re plenty old enough to learn to talk to God and each other and make some decisions for themselves. We’re glad that our children respect us and ask our counsel about things, but I think far too often parents have a very difficult time ‘letting go.’ An adult child entering a serious relationship better be able to also make decisions!! So yes, Chad and Erin are allowed to talk on the phone alone. They have chosen to have chaperones when in each other’s presence because they like the accountability. Having chaperones doesn’t mean they aren’t given some space or that they have to have all their conversations monitored (i.e. they asked us and some siblings to accompany them on a date, but we all sat at a different table so they could be alone).”

Wow, it sounds like this is one issue the Bateses and Duggars have very different opinions about.

They both practice the same religion, but only one family believes in college.


(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Both families are fundamental Baptist Christians who homeschool their children using the ATI curriculum created by the Institute in Basic Life Principles. However, unlike the Duggars, all the Bates kids go to college after graduating. Yes, they all go to Christian universities, but it’s refreshingly different to see the older Bates kids not getting rushed into courtships or marriages — or at least not as quickly. So far, the only Duggar who’s been to college is John-David, but he dropped out after only one year.

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Courtesy of Erin and Chad Paine/Instagram

(Photo Credit: Instagram)

What’s also interesting to note is that Erin Bates (now Erin Paine) has recently denounced IBLP and its teachings on Instagram.

“We are not affiliated with the ministry or Mr. Gothard in any way at all, nor do we support. Thank you for your concern,” she clarified on Instagram.

Wow, can you imagine how Jim Bob would react if one of his kids wrote something like that on Instagram? Ouch.

Are the families still friends?

If you watch Counting On, you already know that the Bateses and the Duggars have been family friends for more than 20 years now. Not only did the Duggars help build the Bates’ home, they also pop up all the time in each other’s social media. And now with rumors that single Duggars are getting courted by eligible Bateses, it appears the families might be more integrated than ever.

“I personally think, hey you have 19 kids on each side, I think it’s almost inevitable somewhere down the line,” Erin said about the possibility of a Bates-Duggar wedding. “As much as we see each other, I think there’s going to be an attraction somewhere. I don’t know where yet, but I think it’s gonna happen.”

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(Photo Credit: Instagram)

Although the Bates/Duggars will forever be like a real-life version of The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones to us, there’s really no family that’s “better” than the other. When it comes to ridiculously large reality TV families who pollute our screens, are there truly any winners?

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