TV Time: United Bates of America

The Bates Family

The Bates Family from United Bates of America
image from tlc.com

She Said: United Bates of America

It’s no secret that I want a big family! I would love to have 4 or 5 children (or more!) and even though we are having difficulties in having one child (yet), I’m still hoping for a big family. I love the idea of having a big group of children to teach, love and care for! It’s also not a secret to any of our readers that I’m a big fan of reality television. Well, I suppose I should say that I used to be a big fan of it. Lately, while I’ve been experiencing spiritual growth and drawing closer to God I’ve found that it’s harder than ever to find programming that I can enjoy. However, when I first heard of United Bates of America I knew it would be a success with me! I’ve known about the Bates family for a few years and I’m excited to get to know them better!

Have you heard of the Duggar family? They are the family from Arkansas that has 19 children. They’ve been featured on Discovery Channel ventures back since they were filming 14 Children and Pregnant Again. I discovered 17 kids and Counting shortly after it premiered a few years ago. At first I was drawn to it because I was very homesick. You see, most people don’t that I homeschooled. I know, it amazes people that anyone with such a devotion to tank tops who is also an actress was homeschooled.  Well my family was a more liberal homeschool family than what people typically think of. I could wear pants, shave my legs, hold hands with boys and do whatever I wanted (within reason) with my hair. I did have some friends who were raised more conservatively and still love them dearly. I’m glad I got the chance to know some people who were very different ideologically from me (the friends I had who went to public school didn’t seem that different to me). I’ve learned a lot from my friends that has helped me develop spiritually and has challenged me to seek what God’s definition (and not the world) of modesty and womanhood is. I must say that I still love to dance, wear tank tops and I think pants are the more modest form of dress in some situations. But, I love watching The Duggar family (and now the Bates, too) because they have brought spiritual encouragement and have given me the opportunity to understand why I have the standards that we have as well as revising some that we had previously.

The Bates Family are friends with the Duggars and are also a supersized family. They currently have 19 children and they reside in Tennessee and live a similar lifestyle to the Duggars. Who wouldn’t expect that two large families who homeschool wouldn’t have a lot in common? I love the Bates family. I don’t know if it’s just because they are from Tennessee and their accents sound like home to me. I think I love them so much because they have so much joy and they also seem more sincere than the Duggars do. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Duggars but sometimes the smiling all feels forced and I fear the older girls will never have lives of their own (two big things I disagree with them on). The Bates family has such a love and caring spirit in everything I see and hear them do. While I don’t agree with adult children not being encouraged and helped to live lives of their own, I still feel that Gil and Kelly aren’t just trying to keep them trapped to use them for labor. Even though I do have some difference with the families it’s always nice to be encouraged by brothers and sisters in Christ. And, I love seeing all those sweet babies!

Premise wise United Bates of America is very similar to 19 Kids and Counting. Basically, we follow a big family around and watch how they live their life. I always enjoy episodes about shopping, holidays and anything that shows the area I grew up in! The first episodes of the series were just darling. The Bates family did a big gift exchange for Valentine’s Day (which they call “I Love You” Day) and it was so sweet! I loved seeing the kids shop for gifts for each other, they were so thoughtful. The party that they had was also so much fun to watch. In the second episode they visited Gil’s parents. I liked this because who doesn’t enjoy memories of going to their grandmother’s house and playing with their cousins? I do think that it seems like the number of children do distress Gil’s parents, but it was wonderful to see that they are still welcomed and loved.

I have loved the Bates family for years ever since the early episodes of 17 Kids and Counting. I don’t always agree with all of their customs and ideas, but I am grateful that another Christian family has a chance to share some of their heart with America. This show isn’t perfect! It’s about a real family so they do make mistakes.  Even if you are a Christian or conservative you won’t agree with everything that they do. But, I hope that you will be encouraged and have some fun. It’s nice to have another show that we can enjoy together that I don’t have to worry about having RJ shield his eyes from seeing things that are indecent.  They are a cute, sweet family (I love so many of them- Erin, Tori, Alyssa, Callie, Josie, Carlin, Nathan, Addalee, etc! What am I saying, they are all special in their own way!) I know that Gil and Kelly also have encouraged RJ and I as we are establishing and waiting on our family to grow. I love being entertained, but I love to be entertained and challenged even more.

Rating- 10

He Said: The United Bates of America

I need to admit something right up front.  I don’t like this large family reality show genre nearly as much as Kari.  Over time the idiosyncrasies of most families start to grate on you and you start to focus on the negative.  Even the best families cracks start to show.  Maybe that freshness is why I liked this show more than any other in the genre, but I think there’s something more to it, too.

A lot of why I like The United Bates of America is how nice they are.  Kari and I lived in East Tennessee for about a year, and still visit frequently.  There’s openness, and a welcoming spirit in the area that we really do enjoy.  The Bates family exemplifies this cozy, homey feeling.

The whole reason the Bates have a television show is there association with the Duggars, of 19 (formerly 17, then 18) Kids and Counting.  I have always liked the Bates family better.  I find them more realistic, smarter, and more entertaining.  They also seem less restrictive than the Duggars, but strangely the children seem better behaved.

The Bates kids all play different instruments, and have different interests, and different personalities, which is interesting too.  The special that TLC aired a few months ago as an introduction, “Meet the Bates” even showed one of their girls (Alyssa) going hunting for the first time to celebrate her birthday.

They’re fun to watch for me primarily because nothing feels forced.  Their way of life is what it is, but they never feel defensive about it.

I really appreciate Gil as a strong male role model as he looks to really care about each individual child, and his wife.

I look forward to watching next week, and hope they make many more seasons of this show.

Rating- 9

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