Home TV Shows Reviews ‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’ Prime Video Series Review - House of Horror

‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’ Prime Video Series Review - House of Horror

This docuseries explores the truth beneath the surface of the mega-family of reality TV, The Duggars.

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 01 Jun 2023 20:40:08 +0100 6298 Views
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I knew nothing about The Duggar family before watching Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets. This docuseries (which reminds you of Netflix's In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal) was sort of educational for me, though I confess I wasn't very shocked by it. It's about deeply religious dopes manipulating their disciples. Is it surprising? No. Is it depressing? Yes, absolutely yes. The fact that something like this gives rise to the same mild reaction that you express after coming across, say, a car accident should tell you about the kind of world we live in. Or maybe it's just me? Am I too tired? Have I watched too many crime documentaries? Crime cases have become so common and rampant that few things truly upset us for a long time. You read something horrible in a newspaper, shake your head in amazement, and move on with your daily life. I find this coldness disturbing, and while watching Shiny Happy People, I was mostly saying, "These cults are all terrible," instead of being more furious at the vile practices.


Like most documentaries, Shiny Happy People opens with clickbait-y snippets of information. You hear words like "Cult in plain sight" and "world domination." The Duggars are, of course, the titular "happy people." They used to have their own reality show on TLC titled 19 Kids and Counting. This was one of those families who didn't own a TV. A neighbor used to make phone calls to inform them about cyclone warnings. The Duggars gained a fan following thanks to the TLC series, and they used their stardom to sell conservative viewpoints. Jim Bob Duggar and his wife, Michelle Duggar, vehemently spoke in favor of IBLP (Institute in Basic Life Principles). It's a Christian organization founded by Bill Gothard, and if you know this guy, you must be aware of all the accusations against him.


Gothard is a man who is apparently fond of acronyms. Apart from IBLP, we have ATI, EXCEL, and other things. Let's talk about ATI. It stands for Advanced Training Institute, and it's a homeschooling program that teaches problematic values. They have a slut shaming book for crying out loud! As per these books, the concept of evolution is false, and it's a girl's fault if she ends up being harassed by boys. One of those boys is Josh Duggar, who not only molested underage girls but also sexually assaulted his own sisters. Josh is currently in prison as he was found guilty of possessing child pornography. Gothard is another monster who used to violate underage girls.


In Shiny Happy People, many ex-IBLP members talk about their traumatic childhood experiences with family members who supported awful conservative attitudes. We learn that spanking a child for the sake of instilling "discipline" in them is favored by the cult members. They use the word "encouragement" for this act. There is also something known as Blanket Training, in which a six-month-old kid is laid down on a blanket, and his/her favorite toy is placed at a distance. If the kid attempts to go near the toy, he is beaten up by the parent. This process is supposed to break the rebellious spirit of the children. It's nothing but psychological torture.


I liked that moment in the docuseries where Danielle Lindemann, author of True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us, referred to episodes related to birth and marriage as a cash cow. She attacked all those conservative reality shows that display women doing only household chores. When some people call such shows a reminder of "simpler times," they indirectly say they like old-fashioned viewpoints. I hate watching reality serials. I am repulsed by their insincerity and desperation to market rehearsed events as spontaneous. I am sure I would have disliked 19 Kids and Counting, but I am so happy I never came across that show in my life.


The IBLP has an Umbrella of Authority. It simply supports patriarchy. According to this baloney, your father is the most crucial member of your family, and everybody should follow him. A person like Jim Duggar used his authority to grab all the profits from the TLC series. In the last episode, the docuseries tells us that while a person like Josh has been taken into custody, there are other Christian influencers spreading conservative beliefs online. Some have successfully infiltrated government organizations, which is why there is an anti-abortion movement in the US. Well, the devil is everywhere. Remove one Bill Gothard, and you will find hundreds of Jim Bob Duggars ready to take his place.


Final Score- [7.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: All 8 episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: June 2, 2023, on Prime Video

 

 

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