When TLC general manager Nancy Daniels introduced a panel for the network’s upcoming looking-for-love series “Single Dad Seeking” at Thursday’s Television Critics Association press tour, she probably was not anticipating that she instead would become the focus of attention.
With three male cast members sitting on stage — all white — the first question asked was about the series’ apparent lack of racial diversity.
Daniels said that TLC exerted widespread, diverse efforts in their casting search, but the chosen cast members — white and straight — were simply the best fit for the show. A second season, she promised, would be broader.
Coming off a year full of scandal for the reality TV cabler, reporters questioned her decision-making process to do what seems like preemptive damage-control by implementing diverse casting. “Over the years, our screening process has evolved in many ways,” she said.
That scandal, of course, was surrounding the Duggar family — stars of the net’s former hugely popular “19 Kids and Counting” — when news surfaced that cast member and eldest son Josh Duggar had sexually molested teenage girls, including his sisters Jill and Jessa, who were also cast members on the now-canceled series, which was yanked from the schedule following the sex scandal. The year prior, TLC canceled “Honey Boo Boo” when allegations of the series’ star Mama June dating a convicted child molester made headlines.
“Every decision we’ve made has been done very thoughtfully and very carefully about what is in the best interests of the people involved and the network,” Daniels said. “Our first priority is making sure that there’s a health and well-being of our families first and foremost. We feature stories of different families with real people and real things happen.”
As the panel ended, the final question once again diverted from “Single Dad Seeking,” asking Daniels about the future of the Duggars at TLC, namely Jill and Jessa, who recently starred in their own three-part special.
“We just aired the three specials during the holidays. They did very well,” a clearly-frustrated Daniels said, citing the viewership of more than three million. “The audience clearly cares about these girls.”
As for the possibility of more episodes or a series centering around the sisters, Daniels said, “We’re still talking and considering it, but we have not made a decision yet.”
Several journalists at TCA reacted on Twitter to the panel:
Hi three guys on TLC’s new reality show, hope you enjoy sitting back while the network lady gets raked over the coals for Duggars. #TCA16
— Billy Nilles (@BillyNillesDUH) January 7, 2016
Which is right & proper: TLC has recently had to field scandal involving The Duggars and prior to that, Honey Boo Boo. #TCA16
— Melanie McFarland (@McTelevision) January 7, 2016
Love watching these guys sit here silently as we ask TLC questions about anything other than their show. #TCA16
— Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) January 7, 2016