If you have never watched or even heard the drama from an episode of at least one of The Learning Channel‘s many reality television shows, from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to 19 Kids And Counting, you’ve probably sworn off all media or something. Just about everybody with access to a TV has seen one of the thousands of different reality TV shows to come to air since the genre’s boom in the late nineties. Be it human curiosity, a voyeuristic desire to peep into other people’s lives, or an unapologetic love of garbage television, people just eat up reality TV. However, even the most dedicated trash television aficionado may not know some of these facts we’ve dug up about TLC’s most well-known reality television stars.
Be it the seedy underbelly of an oversized Baptist family’s “good” son or the disturbing shameless world of child beauty pageants, TLC has given us a glimpse into the lives of some very strange and arguably terrible people. And some of those people are shrouded in even more controversy than their respective shows let us see. When the cameras stopped rolling, the real (and creepiest) stories began.
Without further ado, here are 15 Creepy Facts About TLC’s Reality Show Stars.
15. 19 Kids And Counting – Michelle Duggar abandoned her premature baby to protest
This one is quite heartbreaking, especially coming from someone who has a whopping numbers of children to take care of.
In late 2009, Michelle Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting gave birth to her nineteenth child– a baby girl named Josie. Josie was premature and weighed in at only one pound and six ounces. You might think a mother would be by her baby’s side as she lay in the ICU fighting for her life, but apparently, Mrs. Duggar had better things to do– like protest the EZ Mart next to the hospital’s request for a beer license.
You read that right, folks– Duggar was at the town’s Alcohol Beverage Control center testifying against the convenience store, stating that she believed the town needed to be dry in order to protect the children, while her newborn was alone in the hospital.
14. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo – Mama June dates a sex offender
The titular star, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson stomped into the spotlight on TLC’s child pageant show Toddlers & Tiaras. There’s little about the family that isn’t controversial. From child obesity to giving a six-year-old Red Bull (known eloquently as her “go go juice“) in order to perform better, the family and their matriarch Mama June have given plenty of reasons to be generally disliked by television critics and viewers.
Their spinoff show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, was abruptly canceled after reports that Mama June was dating a pedophile surfaced. The family denied the accusations. The pedophile in question, Mark Anthony McDaniel, was charged with molesting an 8-year-old and is currently a sex offender. To make matters worse, one of Mama June’s children, Lauryn, eventually admitted that she was the child who was molested by the man her mother is dating.
13. 19 Kids And Counting – Josh Duggar is a child molester
No matter what one’s opinions may be of the Duggars’ choice to avoid contraceptives, it’s difficult to humanize these people after their choice to allow their child-molesting son to continue to be around their other children.
In 2015, Duggar patriarch Jim Bob told police that his eldest son Josh had molested five young girls in 2002 when he was a teenager. Four of those fives girls were Duggar’s siblings. Duggar apparently was “disciplined at home” and according to the girls’ father, they “didn’t understand [they] had been improperly touched.” The public never would have been the wiser if In Touch magazine hadn’t published the police reports in 2015.
19 Kids and Counting was canceled soon after this disturbing news was made public, but a “spinoff” called Counting On, which was basically the same show minus Josh, premiered a few months later.
12. Abby & Brittany – Intrusive reporters
Some may remember the short-lived documentary reality show Abby & Brittany, which documented the post-grad lives of conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel. While many could see the show as voyeuristic and akin to a modern “freak show” that sought to expose conjoined twins for cheap gasps, the show itself was quite honest– we got to see how two sisters connected physically dealt with all of life’s difficulties and came out positive and hopeful. Unfortunately, many reporters got way too aggressive with one particular question: how do conjoined twins have sex?
The innocent curiosity soon snowballed into full-blown creepiness when publications kept pushing the question. With article titles like “Finally, An Answer About Abby & Brittany’s Sex Life!” it’s clear that people still love to objectify others with physical deformities in sleazy ways. Spoiler alert: they never answered.
11. Toddlers & Tiaras – Maddy Verst wore fake boobs in an episode
Child beauty pageant reality show Toddlers & Tiaras makes this list several times, and for good reason. The show is incredibly controversial and features scenes that many critics consider to be documentation of child abuse and sexualization. One such instance that sparked massive outrage is when pageant mom Lindsay Jackson dressed her five year old daughter Maddy up as Dolly Parton– with fake breasts and buttocks.
The scene on the show is upsetting, to say the least. Young Maddy can be seen trying to cover up the fake breasts and looks anxious as her mom preps her for the show. After the child’s costumed image donned People magazine with the tagline “Gone too far?”, Maddy’s father Bill Verst filed for full custody of the child. He didn’t win.
10. Cheer Perfection – Sexual assault and drug charges
Cheer Perfection was a very short-lived TLC reality show that was very similar to Toddlers & Tiaras, only with cheer performances replacing beauty pageants. The show had its fair share of controversy, too.
Cheer Time Revolution owner Ronald Dunlap and cheer coach Ryan Dahl were arrested in 2014 for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after police found the two smoking weed in Dahl’s car.
Also in 2014, cheer mom Andrea Clevenger turned herself in to local police after warrants on her were released for the sexual assault of a 13 year old boy. The boy’s parents found sexually provocative photos of Clevenger on his phone and contacted police. Clevenger was sentenced to ten years in prison and is currently registered as a sex offender.
9. Sister Wives – Creepy Catfish situation
America’s favorite polygamist family continues to shine in the TLC show Sister Wives, which documents the lives of Kody Brown, his four wives, and their seventeen children. The idea of polygamy in this particular sense is kind of creepy, especially since the wives all behave as if they really are sisters.
One major controversy to come from the show was the unfortunate online catfishing of one of the wives, Meri. While it’s nuts to think any woman in a polygamist relationship with a Fundamentalist Mormon could be less than satisfied, Meri was unhappy. And so, she began a relationship with a “man” online, whom she confessed her love to. The catfisher was not only not a man, but also began to threaten to destroy the family’s reputation.
8. 19 Kids And Counting – Duggar’s tiny living conditions
Is it really such a surprise that the Duggar family from 19 Kids And Counting made this list once again? This time it’s for a child endangerment case, according to a police report.
The Inquisitr reported that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar provided horrid living conditions for their (at the time) eighteen-member family, fitting them into a meager three bedroom home that measured 2,400 square feet. Since the two parents are actually real estate agents, they should have known that the living conditions violated Arkansas state law.
When considering how such close quarters could have made it easier for their pedophile son Josh to molest his young siblings, many of whom were asleep at the time of the assault, it makes the whole case way more unsettling.
7. Cake Boss – Anti-LGBT remarks and sexual assault
Not even Cake Boss is safe from controversy and creepiness, it seems.
While filming a 2012 episode of the show, transgender model Carmen Carrera was shown going on a casual date with chef Buddy Valastro’s cousin. Valastro outed Carrera to his cousin Anthony, saying “I tell him, that’s a man, baby!” Anthony then completely and dramatically abandoned Carrera in the bar.
The episode was a sad example of anti-LGBT sentiments that plague the Italian-American community to this day. Carrera spoke about how dangerous the Cake Boss‘ actions were and Valastro eventually made a public apology.
There was also the issue of Valastro’s ex-brother-in-law Remy Gonzalez, who appeared on the show, and the announcement of his nine-year prison sentence for raping a disabled thirteen year old girl in 2012.
6. Sister Wives – Weird connections
If there aren’t as many fish in the sea that are down with being in a polygamist relationship with a Fundamentalist Mormon, why not look (sort of) within one’s own family for another wife?
That’s what Sister Wives patriarch Kody Brown did when he married his second wife, Janelle.
The couple, who married in 1993, are more related to each other than once thought. In Touch Weekly reported that Janelle Brown was actually once married to Kody’s first wife Meri’s brother. The brother, Adam Clark, Barber, divorced Janelle sometime in June of 1990 after only two years of marriage. It’s alleged that Janelle met and subsequently fell for her current husband Kody while she was still married to Barber.
“I had known Meri’s family for several years before the night I met Kody,” Janelle stated on the show’s website, though she doesn’t say exactly how she met her husband.
5. Long Island Medium – A total sham
While this particular entry on Long Island Medium’s Theresa Caputo isn’t necessarily creepy, it is highly controversial given Caputo’s level of fame and success. Caputo has been slammed and accused through the years by various publications for being a total scam artist, including CNN, James Randi Group, and Inside Edition. Some have gone as far to say she sends interns and assistants ahead of her to interview subjects. One particular ex-client stated that “Theresa’s assistant asked for details about her husband’s death before the reading.”
Private investigator Rob Tebo is also convinced that Caputo is a complete fraud, stating, “She schmoozes with the audience. She wins them over with her big hair, designer shoes and comedy. When they trust her, she goes in for the kill.”
4. Toddlers & Tiaras – Pretty Woman
The 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman, which stars Julia Roberts, follows the love affair between a prostitute and a john that follows an almost Cinderella narrative. What’s not to love about this award-winning film? Heck, why not have your child dress up as the famous prostitute for a beauty pageant?
Toddlers & Tiaras pageant mom Wendy Dickey did to her three year old daughter Paisley in 2011. There’s no buts about it– the costume was directly taken from an outfit Roberts famously wore in the film, along with a blonde wig and black leather thigh highs to match.
Sherri Shepherd from The View famously tore the pageant mom apart after the incident: “When are we going to stop sexualizing our children? Your job is to protect your child… if you don’t think pedophiles are watching this show, I have a bridge I want to sell you.”
3. Little People Big World – A Not-So-Perfect little family
The Roloff family from Little People Big World seemed like one of the very few TLC reality show families that were actually pretty cool. Through them, we were able to see and destigmatize the lives of little people. Unfortunately, the Roloff family has had their share of controversy as well.
Amy and Matt’s son Jeremy was once critiqued for using racist and homophobic slurs on his MySpace page (clearly, this was a long time ago). We can at least try to forgive mishaps like, as Jeremy was only a teenager at the time. Unfortunately, he didn’t change much.
After marrying his wife Audrey, it became clear that his “good-natured” religious wife and himself were both massive homophobes. The two run a blog called Beating 50 Percent in which they post marriage advice and interview other married couples. When asked why they rarely featured LGBT couples aiming to beat the divorce rate, the couple stated that they “don’t claim to be a resource for same-sex marriages as it is not something [they] agree with.”
Audrey’s pastor, John Mark Comer, is also an avid anti-gay advocate.
2. 19 Kids And Counting – Michelle Dougar’s problematic marriage advice
Is there any end in sight for controversies surrounding the Duggar family? Probably not.
The woman who popped out nineteen children in less than 33 years, Michelle Duggar, gave light-hearted newlywed advice to fans of the show on TLC’s blog.
The creepiest bit of advice Michelle had to give newlyweds involved some good ol’ marital rape: “So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need.”
She went on to say that constant sex is an absolute necessity for a relationship to work, “even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels.”
1. Sister Wives – One of the wives offered to surrogate a child for another wife
The weird relationship between the four Brown wives only gets stranger.
Kody’s first wife Meri has popped out a disappointing amount of children compared to Kody’s other wives, who have provided 5-6 kids each. Since seventeen children just isn’t enough and Meri has had trouble conceiving after their first and only daughter, Kody’s fourth wife Robyn offered to surrogate a child for her. Essentially, she would give the baby created between her and her husband to Meri and her husband (the same husband, mind you) to raise.
The surrogacy didn’t even happen, as Kody was unhappy with the idea of an “unnatural” pregnancy and ultimate dissuaded Meri from going through with it.
“I had actually planned to tell him I wanted to start the process of having a baby,” a visibly sad Meri said on the show, “It just is what it is.”
Do you have any more creepy TLC facts to share? Let us know in the comments!
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