Is there room for another super-sized family, a la The Duggars, on TV? UP thinks so. Starting tonight, viewers can follow the “uncommon, ultra-conservative” Bates family when the reality series Bringing Up Bates premieres on UP at 9pm ET. (The Bates family actually first appeared on TLC, the Duggars’ network, in a brief 2012 series called United Bates of America, and also appeared with the Duggars on some episodes of 19 Kids and Counting.)
“Twenty-seven years ago Gil and Kelly Jo Bates tied the knot with no plans to have kids. Fast-forward 19 kids later and this tight-knit family, seemingly too good to be true, has a tremendous bond but are far from perfect. When you have a house full of 19 children, from ages 2 to 25, daily chaos is multiplied exponentially, but so are the joyful and poignant moments that life can bring.
“Led by devoted father Gil (49) and his loving wife Kelly Jo (47), the Bates do everything in bulk while staying true to their values and rules for the family – which means everyone has chores, little to no TV, only dresses for girls (though pajamas are worn in private), strictly side-hugs until marriage (except for front hugs on special occasions), and more. With a grand total of 19 children ranging in age from 2 to 25, they are the definition of a “big, happy family.” But lately – as viewers will see – their simple rural lifestyle in Tennessee is in a flurry of transitions and is continually challenged by the modern world.
“The upcoming UP Original Series will explore new, ever-changing family dynamics as the Bates celebrate the birth of the 1st grandchild, Bradley Gilvin Bates, with son Zach (25) and his wife Whitney; foster the courtship of Michaella (24) and Brandon Keilen by allowing him to share an extended visit with the family during the holiday season; support Erin (23) and her husband Chad Paine as they face a health issue that challenges their hope of starting a family; check in on newlywed Alyssa (20) as she finds her way in Florida with new husband, John Webster, the son of recently re-elected U.S. Representative Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and prepare for the birth of her first child; encourage Tori (18) to bring order to the family schedule and step up to meet the challenges of child training as her parents have become more lax in their later years. To support his supersized family, Gil runs a tree service, and relies on sons Lawson (22), Nathan (21), and Trace (17) to help him. Meanwhile, Kelly Jo navigates all the meals, laundry, home schooling, cut knees, birthdays and more as the holidays approach. With the next generation of Bates couples building lives outside their parents’ nest and responsibilities shifting to the younger kids – who may not be ready to handle the pressure – this abundant family will have bigger drama, bigger challenges and bigger life events to celebrate.”
Bringing Up Bates premieres Jan. 1 at 9pm ET on UP.