Well, it’s almost that time of year.
A new season of Counting On is nearly upon us, and it seems longtime viewers may be in for some surprises:
Now, that might sound impossible.
After all, not a day goes by without the family revealing some sort of courtship, marriage, or pregnancy news on social media.
But like the Kardashians before them, the Duggars are savvy enough to keep some details of their lives under wraps.
You don’t hear Kris Jenner-Jim Bob Duggar comparisons too often in life, but they’re running the same playbook here.
Fans still need a reason to tune into the family reality show to get the full story, right? Of course. Case in point:
Who would’ve guessed we would ever hear the Duggars admitting to their need for additional chaperones?
As fans of the family are no doubt aware, Duggar courtship rules forbid just about all forms of physical contact before marriage.
But the guidelines aren’t always so easy to enforce.
Joseph Duggar and Kendra Caldwell married in September, but the early episodes of CO S7 find them in the final weeks of their engagement.
And, like Joy-Anna Duggar and Austin Forsyth before them, it seems they’re not finding it easy to keep their hands to themselves.
“I would say when you’re engaged you almost need more chaperones because you’re getting closer,” Kendra tells the camera.
“The desires are getting stronger.”
(The pair acted on those desires pretty efficiently after tying the knot; Kendra is pregnant with their first child already right now.)
It’s interesting that the Duggars would choose to acknowledge the harsh nature of their dating directives in light of recent events.
This has been source of controversy in recent months, due in large part to the “shotgun wedding” rumors surrounding Joy-Anna.
Did she really have premarital sex?!
We may never know, but she appears in the trailer and reminds fans of just how rough the ultra-strict Duggar courtship rules can be.
“During our relationship, all the way up to our wedding day, we have never been alone together,” Joy tells the TLC cameras.
With that being the entirety of their romance, “it was really amazing being on our honeymoon and just being by ourselves.”
All of this candor from the Tontitown, Arkansas crew isn’t the only thing that’s shaping up to be different about Season 7.
As many fans have pointed out, the promotional materials released by the network contain some noteworthy absences.
One major one in particular …
Jill Duggar and husband Derick Dillard are nowhere to be seen, but that’s not unexpected, as Derick was fired by TLC.
Making numerous inappropriate comments about fellow network star Jazz Jennings on social media got him the heave-ho.
What is surprising is that the OG Duggars, Jim Bob and Michelle, appear to be MIA as well from clips and photos as well.
Did the parents of 19 get the boot?
Viewers have speculated that the show is returning to its roots by focusing on Jim Bob and Michelle’s eldest children.
To be honest, Jim Bob and Michelle aren’t exactly beloved figures these days; Josh Duggar’s sex scandals tarnished them too.
While they’ll always be a major presence in the lives of their kids and grandkids, sidelining them in part may be deliberate.
TLC knows what the people want – and don’t want.
Perhaps Jessa Duggar best summarizes what fans can expect from the long-anticipated seventh season of Counting On:
“We’ve had a lot of exciting things happen in our family in the last few months, and you never know what’s around the corner,” she says.
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the once uber-predictable family has actually been throwing fans some curveballs lately.
But if it all sounds a bit overwhelming, fear not, Duggar Nation:
There’s still some riveting, edge-of-your-seat drama involving Jeremy Vuolo moving books into his office or something.
That should be enough to slow your heart rate back down.