It used to be that you had to pay to see freaks, or at least venture outside the house to the nearest sideshow or museum of medical oddities. But then television happened, and the freaks were broadcast directly into the home. Nowadays, you don't even have to go searching through the nether regions of cable to find human oddities. Thanks to the Today Show, the freaks are cloaked in inspirational human interest stories and delivered right to your TV each morning:
"And if you think you have your hands full this morning, just remember: it could be even more crowded in your kitchen. Way more crowded." Yeah, because having 18 kids is something that just happens to you. "Next thing you know, I had 18 kids. You know how that goes…"
Look, Meredith Viera. It's clear that we're a culture that reveres procreation (See Forbes' list of the Hottest Tots) and treats pregnancy as some kind of grand, enviable accomplishment (see any issue of People magazine, Us Weekly's newish belly n' offspring-watch section), and when viewed through that prism, the Duggars–with their 17 kids, one gestating fetus, and counting, always counting–could theoretically be seen as some kind of role model. After all, they are the most fertile, and we just love celebrating fertile things.
But no one is celebrating the Duggars. No one aspires to be the Duggars. And certainly no one is inspired by the Duggars. When confronted with the spacey, dead-eyed Duggars and their gaggle of interchangeable J-named kids on The Today Show, no one is sitting at home thinking, "They have 17 kids. What can I learn from them?" because everyone is too busy thinking, "They have 17 kids! Jesus. What is wrong with them?" and/or "Does she even remember what it's like not to be pregnant?"
It's time to drop the pretense. The Today Show is a freak show (see Kathy Lee). Drop the "Isn't this just charming?" tone and start practicing your sideshow speak, "Step right up. This way, folks. See the Woman Who's Been Pregnant For More Than 20 Years and her litter of 18 kids."