Breaking free. Counting On alum Jill Dillard (née Duggar) and husband Derick Dillard claim her father, Jim Bob Duggar, is in control of their large family, in Amazon Prime’s new docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.
“My dad does control a lot of things in the family,” Jill, 32, said in episode four of the series which premiered on Thursday, June 1. “Family relationships were already kinda rocky … Everything within the family dynamic has shifted, and not for the better.”
While Derick, 34, added, “We’re very much on the outside with the family,” Jill’s cousin Amy King and her husband, Dillon King, claimed, “They don’t talk to us and so for us, we don’t know what’s going on.”
According to Jill, her father tricked her into signing a contract with TLC the day before her 2014 wedding, which Derick later called “fraud.”
“I just saw the signature page. It was like on the end of the kitchen table. Like, ‘Hey, I just need you guys to sign these,’” she recalled. “Like everybody was signing them. We were literally running through the kitchen, and it was like whoever you could grab on the way through. I didn’t know what it was for.”
Derrick added, “What we found out later was that it was a commitment of your life for the next five years to the show.”
It wasn’t until two years later while the couple was living in El Salvador that they realized what they had signed.
“My dad sends us the signature page along with, like, just the obligation section of the contract. I was like, ‘Somebody forged my signature. I’m sure of it,’” she said. “And then I look at it and I’m like, ‘That is my signature.’ That’s when we realized that I had signed this the day before we got married. That’s not what I thought I was signing.”
While the couple revealed that Jim Bob, 57, later agreed to pay them a “lump sum” – which Derick later claimed amounted to “close to minimum wage” – they ultimately turned it down due to its contingencies.
“In order to receive that, you had to sign another deal with my dad and his production company, Mad Family, Inc,” Jill said. “It would be like forever. We were automatically like, ‘We’re done.’”
Upon reaching out to TLC for copies of every contract she was “involved in,” the mother of three realized that her parents “signed for a bunch of the kids who were no longer minors,” including herself.
“I became an adult in 2009,” she said as a photo of a contract dated May 2012 flashed on screen. “As the kids aged to adulthood, they’re still listed as minors and nobody fixed that.”
In October 2020, the couple – who share sons Israel, Samuel and Frederick – opened up about leaving TLC, saying that their “family goals that we had for ourselves did not align with what we found out.”
“We didn’t have as much control over our lives as it related to the show,” she said in a YouTube video at the time. “We had to make a decision at that time to put the show aside to pursue our own goals.”
Just moments after the documentary was released, Jim Bob and Michelle broke their silence via their website slamming the series.
“The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love. Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format,” the couple wrote on June 1. “This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days.”
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They believe conflict is best mended in a “private setting,” adding, “We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”
“Through both the triumphs and the trials we have clung to our faith all the more and discovered that through the love and grace of Jesus, we find strength, comfort, and purpose,” the former reality stars concluded.
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