It's the Season 8 premiere of
"19 Kids and Counting"
Tuesday (April 1), and lots seems to be in store for the Duggar family this season. New relationships, travel, and of course, probably more babies. And we're finally going to meet Ben Seewald, Jessa Duggar's official suitor.
It was announced that Jessa and Ben had started courting (or, as the Duggars say, "dating with a purpose") in the
Season 7 finale
, and while we've seen a few pictures of him here and there since then, this episode was our first chance to get to know him. What's he like?
Well, he's just plain adorable. As two of the little Duggars say, "he's a GREAT guy ... and he's handsome." He's 18, the oldest of a family of seven, and a bit more of a laid-back, people-person than to-the-point, non-gushy Jessa. Both Michelle and Jim Bob are learning how to handle their daughter being in a forward-moving relationship. The Duggars don't date casually. They don't see the point in playing the field, as it were, and the time and energy expended into Jessa and Ben getting to know one another will probably, we suspect, lead to marriage.
Ben and Jessa are, of course, honoring some very strict rules as to contact, physical and otherwise. There's only "side hugging" allowed, ever. Keep those parts separate now, everyone. No kissing, of course, or even hand-holding. They're always chaperoned by "adults" (even the camera and sound guys get called in to help). And their parents are always monitoring their contact, including texts. There are many people supporting and guiding them, and really, it's how it works for them. Their courtship may be strange by some standards, but there's a charm to it, and the sweet wistfulness between Michelle and Jim Bob when Ben asked to make their "courting" official was nice.
And seriously, if Ben, and his entire family, are open to letting the TLC cameras stalk them, and get grilled by Jim Bob and all the boys, he's in it to win it. So it seems we'll all be getting to know Ben better this season. Because "breaking up" doesn't seem to be in the courtship vocabulary here much.
After a sweet scene with her sisters, thinking and talking about their futures, Jessa and Michelle head to Hot Springs to visit Ben's family, being flown by John David, in a plane, even. Non-traditional dating, and non-traditional methods getting your sister to her non-traditional weeked away with her suitor. Jessa then gets an awkward grilling by Ben's parents a little while at dinner, but it seems like to-the-point Jessa appreciated their directness. The entire Seewald clan comes out for a potluck meet-and-greet, too.
And now, time will tell. What do you think? Will we see Ben and Jessa get married?