The directors and executive producers of Prime Video’s docuseries Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets praise Jill Duggar and Amy King (née Duggar) for sharing their experiences with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) while exclusively speaking to In Touch.
“We were just humbled and honored that Jill trusted us with her story and we’re super grateful to Amy, as well,” codirector and executive producer Olivia Crist tells In Touch during a video interview. “It’s super intimidating to come down, sit down, tell your story. Especially with all that she’s been through and all that the other survivors in our show have been through too.”
Crist continues, “I just commend them, really, for speaking to us.”
Executive producer Cori Shepherd Stern adds that Jill, 32, “took time to think about it and really make a deep, personal decision” to share her story.
The team behind the project offered Jim Bob, 57, and Michelle Duggar, 56, the opportunity to participate, though they declined.
While the producers and directors are grateful for those who participated, they are empathetic towards the family members that chose not to share their stories.
“There’s still a lot of family members who are either officially still in IBLP or are associated with the belief system. And I think that’s hard,” executive producer Blye Faust says. “Whether it’s Jill or whether it’s people who are not part of the Duggar family, it takes a very long time to often break free and to really understand what it is that you were a part of and how that affected you in your life. And it’s very brave.”
Stern adds that it was “deeply affecting” and “very emotional to watch any of these survivors open up about their lives and what they’ve been through.”
“I think for someone like Jill who grew up in front of a camera, that wasn’t necessarily her own choice,” she states. “Cause she was a kid when it all happened and this was a choice she was making that was very moving.”
The docuseries will look into the Duggars and other members of IBLP, which is a non-denominational Christian organization established by Bill Gothard in 1961.
The organization has been heavily criticized for the way it treats women, while dozens of accusers came forward in 2014 with allegations that Gothard sexually harassed them. After the founder was put on administrative leave and an investigation was conducted by a outside legal counsel, IBLP released a statement claiming that “no criminal activity” was found though Gothard “acted in an inappropriate manner.”
In 2016, 10 women filed a lawsuit claiming that Gothard and the IBLP church leaders sexually harassed them, abused them and covered up their alleged wrongdoings. Gothard denied the allegations and the case was eventually dismissed due to statute of limitation issues.
“What really interested me was really the insidious cult behind the family that hasn’t really been talked about at great length and all of the survivors who really needed a chance to tell their stories,” Crist explains about the inspiration behind the documentary. “[We’re] kind of going down that rabbit hole and giving people the opportunity to speak who have been left off our screens for far too long was really the motivator.”
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets will be available to stream on Prime Video on Friday, June 2.
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