United Bates of America

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
United Bates of America TV Poster Image
19 Kids spin-off features family, fun, tradition, and faith.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Not meant to be educational, but kids can definitely see a different kind of lifestyle.

Positive Messages

Love, family, children, faith, and respect are major themes here. The series also highlights some of the conservative religious and social values of the family's particular Christian faith.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gil and Kelly Jo Bates are loving parents who are committed to their faith, and raise their children accordingly. This includes supporting patriarchal gender roles and living within their means at all times. The children are mostly well behaved, but like all children, not perfect.

Violence & Scariness

Hunting rifles (real and toy) are visible.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that United Bates of America, a 19 Kids and Counting spin-off, features a large Tennessee family being raised according to the tenants of their conservative faith and subsequent lifestyle. Some may not agree with the values they live by, but the show does contain positive messages about love, respect, and family. Despite some images of hunting rifles (both real and toy), there's no violence, language, or other iffy content to worry about.

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What's the story?

UNITED BATES OF AMERICA is a reality series featuring the energetic Bates family clan as they live their lives in the hills of Tennessee. The spin-off of the hit show 19 Kids and Counting stars Gil and Kelly Jo Bates raising their 19 children, ranging in ages from 23 to a few weeks old, according to the tenets of their faith. From playing music to organizing a Valentine's Day dinner, life gets a little crazy some times. But with hard work, patience, and love, they all work together to keep the household running smoothly.

Is it any good?

Like Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the Bates show what their lifestyle is like as practitioners of the controversial Quiverfull Movement, which has its roots in conservative Christian evangelism, and which views having large families as a way of promoting their faith. While the family does not discuss their religious philosophies in any depth on camera, they offer brief faith-based (but non-judgmental) explanations of why they live in a way that is often different from the mainstream.  

Watching how this large family manages their lives is interesting, but some viewers may have difficulty with their efforts to keep the children from secular influences, from homeschooling children to limiting access to the media (despite their willingness to appear on a reality show). Their adherence to patriarchal gender norms may also be troubling. But the messages it contains about love, responsibility, and respect, are definitely positive ones.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Bates parents' decision to have so many kids. Do they ever explain their reasons fully? Why are some people critical of their decisions?

  • How do the Duggars and the Bates compare to your family? If you have a small family, do you ever wish that you had a bigger one? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think families like the Duggars and the Bates have agreed be on a reality show that appears in the mainstream media, despite the fact that they do not permit access to it in their homes? Why were they offered the chance to appear on mainstream TV in the first place?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality shows

Themes & Topics

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