Each episode of 19 Kids and Counting is chaotic in one way or another, but it’s easy to forget that it’s not just Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar wrangling a household currently filled with 17 children, but a full television production crew as well.
On a special 19 Kids, we met coordinating producer Courtney Enlow, director Scott Enlow, sound man Jim Goodwin and cameraman John Rotan, all of whom who have been with the family for several years – the Enlows, in particular, have been with the Duggars ever since their very first TLC special, 14 Kids and Pregnant Again.
Here are 12 things you probably didn’t know about what it’s like to work on the set of one of TLC’s biggest shows, which aired its 225th episode (really!) on Tuesday.
1. If the Kids Get Sick, Everyone Gets Sick
When 12 of the Duggar children came down with chicken pox at once, the crew had to call their parents to find out if they had ever had chicken pox themselves!
Rotan, who has been working on the show for nearly six years, has gotten two or three ear infections during his tenure: “We’ve built up quite an immune system.”
2. Sound, in Particular, Can be a Challenge
According to Goodwin, it seems as if there’s nothing small children like more than a boom mic. “If the boom is close they’ll grab it and stick it in their mouth,” said Goodwin, and they’ll drool all over it.
3. Family Photos Are Not Getting Any Easier
It can take about 200 tries at a Duggar family photo before the crew can get one usable shot. “That encapsulates what it’s like to work with the Duggars, sometimes,” said Scott. Joked Jim Bob, “They say if we have any more kids they’re going to start taking aerial photos.”
4. Sometimes They Run Errands
When the family was stuck inside during an ice storm, they sent the crew – who were already on their way – to pick up diapers. They’ll remove trash, too, if it’s in the shot, and they’ll help with spills.
5. Jim Bob Watched the Crew Like a Hawk When They First Began Filming
Though the crew is now part of the family, Jim Bob was as protective over his brood as you might imagine when TLC first began filming. “We watched them like a hawk,” said Jim Bob, who “didn’t know them from Adam” and was naturally concerned about strangers filming his kids.
“Early on, Jim Bob was over our shoulder,” Scott confirmed grimly, as if in remembrance of the days when Jim Bob trailed him like a shadow.
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6. The Kids Try to Wring Secrets from the Crew
The crew knows all, but they’re tight-lipped even in the face of tiny children offering to trade toys for secrets, like the sex and names of babies.
7. Courtney Learned a Lot About Parenting from Michelle
While the Duggar children are not necessarily reared in a traditional way for most people, Courtney admits that she learned a lot about parenting from the Duggar matriarch. Michelle is one of the most patient people you’ll ever meet, said Courtney, and footage of the children being particularly childlike proved that in spades.
8. The Name Game Is Hard for Everyone
Even the Enlows – who have been with the Duggars for nearly 11 years – have difficulty naming the children in their birth order. And forget Rotan – six years is nowhere near long enough to get 19 “J” names straight.
9. Sometimes the Crew Needs to Discipline the Children
When the children are climbing trees or swinging around the furniture, sometimes the crew needs to step in to make they don’t hurt themselves. For many of the kids, Enlow has a pretty good trick in his back pocket: “I’m able to say, ‘You listen to me, because I’ve been in this family longer than you have!’ ”
10. Overseas Trips Are a Logistical Nightmare – and Headcounts Are Important
Whenever the Duggars go on a trip, they don’t just have to worry about getting themselves to their destination but the crew, too – that is a lot of people. So, they’re constantly doing headcounts. However, the trips have always gone “pretty smoothly, which is pretty amazing,” said Scott.
(We also saw a woman in China ask, “This is one family? I’ve never seen anything like it.”)
11. Courtney Had a Baby in China Thanks to the Duggars
Courtney was pregnant when the Duggars decided that they would go on a family trip to China, and she did not anticipate that she would go into labor while there. However, as Michelle will tell you, anything can happen during a pregnancy, and Courtney did, indeed, go into labor.
And that’s how the Enlows’ daughter ended up being born in China with Jill and Jana assisting at the hospital in the delivery.
12. Scott Knows that Josie Will One Day Come for Blood
Scott brought up the time that Josie, now 5, pooped her pants on camera (“Little poops were falling out of the leg of her pants!”) but knew that, one day, “when she gets to be about 16 she’ll be like, ‘Why did you do that to me?’ ” and he’d reply, “Well, why wouldn’t I? You pooped your pants on TV!”
RELATED VIDEO: Things Get Messy Before Anna and Josh Reveal the Sex of Their Baby on 19 Kids and Counting
The two-hour finale of 19 Kids and Counting airs Tuesday, May 19, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on TLC.
Want more Duggars? Click here to get weekly updates on the stars of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting in the Duggar Family Newsletter.