The reality-television series “Bringing Up Bates,” was one of the most-watched TV series on the Up TV network. It chronicled the Christian family life of Gil and Kelly Jo Bates as they raised all of their 19 children. The first episode was aired in 2015, developed a huge fan base, and stayed on TV for 10 seasons; the Up TV network announced in January 2022 that it wouldn’t air an 11th season.
- 1 Meet the Bates Family
- 2 TV Premiere in 2015
- 3 “Bringing Up Bates” 10 seasons later
- 4 Cancelation of the TV show
Meet the Bates Family
Kelly Jo Callaham said from the get-go that when she and William Gilvin “Gil” Bates married in December 1987, they would let God decide how many kids they were going to have. She was pregnant with Zach three months after they were married, and when he was four years old, they had Michaella. Gil said that after that they sure did come quite fast, – well, in their first 24 years, they had 19 children.
The Bates children consisted of nine sisters and nine brothers with ages ranging from 25 to two during the television debut of the show, “Bringing Up Bates.”
When Gil and Kelly were asked about their children, they said that each of them has a unique personality.
In the family, Zachary Gilvin, born on 30 December 1988, was considered the teacher and researcher. Michael Christian – often referred to as Michaella – born on 23 January 1990, was said to have a huge heart of gold. Erin Elise, born on 2 May 1991 was described as Ms. Organizer, and referred to as the perfectionist among the Bates children. William Lawson, born on 27 July 1992, was the child who was often heard calling out to anyone in the family the moment they got out of line. Kenneth Nathaniel “Nathan,” born on 29 August 1993, was the resident best friend, as he got on pretty well with everybody.
Alyssa Joy – born 9 November 1994 – made everything run smoothly in the house and she could even manage the taxes. Tori Layne, born 20 December 1995, was the family’s ball of energy, and would help out in the kitchen even though she didn’t like to cook. Trace Whitfield, born on 1 February 1997, was known as “Mr. Competitive.”
Carlin Brianne, born on 11 April 1998, was a little dynamo, and didn’t have any problem expressing herself to anyone. Josie Kellyn, born on 4 August 1999, came across as a quiet and aloof person at first, but as time passed by, people recognised her caring personality.
Katie Grace, born on 5 October 2000, was the spunky one. Jackson Ezekiel, born on 17 February 2002, was considered the artist in the family. Warden Justice, born on 19 May 2003, was described by his parents as the hyper one among their children, always moving, and bouncing around. Isaiah Courage, born on 16 October 2004, was often mentioned as the most tender-hearted of the Bates children. Addallee Hope, born on 17 February 2006, often made everyone smile, because the 15th child was selfless, as she always thought of everyone else before herself.
Ellie Bridget, born on 28 April 2007, was the resident Ms. Smiley in the Bates brood. Callie-Anna Rose, born on 2 August 2009 was known as Ms. Feisty because she thought that she was the boss of the entire family.
The Bates are back and with costumes that will knock your socks off! Check out a behind-the-scenes look at their I Love You Day celebration and let us know your favorite outfit! https://on.uptv.com/2OJL0Gi
Judson Wyatt, born on 15 September 2010, was a little teddy bear who always loved to cuddle; his father said that the child liked to look closely into his face and say ‘I love you.’ Jeb Colton, born on 1 February 2012, the youngest of the Bates children, was described by his parents as Mr. Full Blast, because he often went 90 miles per hour in everything he did, and no one could catch him.
TV Premiere in 2015
“Bringing Up Bates” wasn’t the family’s first foray into reality television. They did a show in 2012 called “United Bates of America” aired on the TLC network and it only lasted for one season. The Bates family was completely different from when they were first introduced publicly. They already had 19 children at that time but there was no extended family yet, as all of their children were single. The dynamics of the family changed when they welcomed a son-in-law and two daughters-in-law, along with their first grandchild.
The married couples in the Bates children during the first season
At the premiere of the TV show, Gil said that the previous year nobody was married, but during the filming of the first season they had three kids who got hitched, while Kelly said that the past year had been the most emotional for her.
Zack, a police officer, married Whitney Eileen Perkins after they’d dated for 16 months; they were expecting a son, and named him Bradley.
Erin married Chad Paine in November 2013. They met at a Valentine’s banquet, and she fell in love at first sight; the moment she walked into the room and saw him, she thought he was so handsome. Chad said that he noticed Erin that night too. She suffered a miscarriage and had difficulty dealing with it, but having an amazing husband made her feel that she had a lot to be thankful for.
Alyssa married John Webster, and relocated to Florida. She had a hard time adjusting to her new life, as she was used to having 20 people around her. She couldn’t just come and visit them whenever she missed them as they lived too far away, but she would Facetime them a lot.
A Bates family supper is considered an event
Except for Alyssa and John, everyone was back at their ancestral home to have a family supper. Kelly said that with 19 children, every meal could be considered a huge event. For instance, breakfast would mean consuming five dozen eggs, while sandwiches would mean three pounds of deli meat and numerous loaves of bread. Zack’s wife would normally hang out with them when Zack’s at work, as she would get bored in their own house. That time, she helped the girls prepare the food, and Whitney said she and Zack could only consume three potatoes, however, Kelly said that it was different for her two married daughters, because Alyssa discovered that she had a difficult time downsizing her food preparation when she married, as she was used to preparing for a lot of people.
Living in a huge family
Tori and Carlin said a lot of people kept asking them what it’s like living with a huge family, and they shared that it’s quite normal as they didn’t know anything different.
Nathan, Lawson and Trace said that in their family, one should learn to take the good stuff as soon as they saw it, as it wouldn’t be there later when they really wanted it. Kelly and Gil said that it took a lot of sacrifices, effort, and time to raise a family like theirs, but they couldn’t imagine not having their children, even if it meant no huge mess to clean up.
The baby shower for the first grandchild
Aside from meeting the Bates family, the first episode focused on the preparation for the baby shower of the first grandchild in the family. Erin confessed that although she was happy for her brother Zack, she couldn’t help but think of the baby they lost because her pregnancy happened at the same time as Whitney’s. Kelly was aware that Erin was having a hard time while they planned the event.
On the day of the baby shower, Trace had a road mishap as he was driving too fast, went off the road and almost had a rollover.
It seemed that in these types of emergencies, the family had the tendency to minimize the gravity of the situation when they informed their mother, as she easily went into panic mode. The good thing was that Trace was physically fine, only frightened, and so they continued with the party.
With a big family to take care of, the Bates’ became known as the “Late Bates”; they were always late, even to their own party. Most of the guests arrived at the venue, but half of the family weren’t there yet, even Zack and Whitney. Ms. Organizer, Erin, was a bit embarrassed by not being 100% prepared, but most of their friends and colleagues were used to it, so it didn’t turn into a huge deal in the end. People close to them had learned to adjust to any situation.
How did Gil afford to raise a huge family
People asked Gil how he was able to afford raising 19 children. When most of the children were still small, he started a tree company, Bates Tree Services. It was a high-risk occupation, and so it pays well as compared to other jobs.
Kelly said his profession scares her, and would often call him just to check if he’s alright. There were times he was 80 feet up in the tree cutting the branches when she called, and would ask her to pray for his safety. He trimmed tall trees for a living, and trained his sons while they were growing up so they could help him when they became adults, if they chose to pursue the same career. Gil also works as a pastor of the Bible Baptist Church of East Tennessee, and sits on the board of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
“Bringing Up Bates” 10 seasons later
In 2022, Gil and Kelly are still happily married, taking care of their children along with their grandchildren when required. Out of the 19 Bates children, nine of them are married: Erin, Zach, Alyssa, Michaela, Tori, Josie, Carlin, Nathan, and Katie. Here’s an update on what happened to their 19 children:
The married couples
The first three Bates to marry had many kids but they wanted to have more.
We've been waiting all season long for this moment. 😍 And yes, it is an hour-long episode. 😎
Erin and Chad already had four children, Brooklyn, Carson, Everly and Holland by 2019, but were surprised to be given a fifth blessing – the newest baby, Finley, arrived in January 2022. Zach and Whitney already had four pregnancies in the first six years of their marriage but lost one to a miscarriage. In June 2021, they were gifted with another pregnancy – son Jadon. Alyssa and John welcomed their newest daughter, Maci, in February 2021; they already had three children named Zoey, Allie and Lexi, but can hardly wait to have six.
Michaela married Brandon Keilen in August 2015 after being engaged for 125 days. They’d been trying to get pregnant but weren’t successful. Initially, they were open about their infertility problems and the heartache they suffered, but after a while the couple stopped sharing about it. They posted on Instagram – ‘We definitely have many nights of tears and days of deep heartache, but as a couple, we prefer to walk through the hardest times together in privacy.’
They said that they didn’t want to share their pain publicly anymore, but the cuddles and time they shared with their nephews and nieces inspired them not to lose hope.
Tori married Bobby Smith in 2017, and after three years she’d already given birth to two sons, and was excited to have a baby girl in June 2021, whom they named Charlotte. Josie, who was 19 at that time, married Kelton Balka, a 23-yr old plumber in October 2018. Nine months after the wedding, they welcomed their first girl, Willow, and in June 2021, they had another girl they named Hazel. The ninth child, Carlin, went on to marry Evan Patrick Stewart, a musician, after being engaged for almost 250 days. They had their first baby, Layla, in February 2020, and the family was worried when the baby was diagnosed with a heart condition. The couple surprised everyone when they had a Target-themed baby announcement for their second one, who’s expected to arrive in mid-2022.
Nathan, who works as an EMT took some time and enjoyed his single life before taking the plunge, and was 28-years-old when he married 23-year old Esther Keyes in October 2021. It was such a unique wedding, as he made a grand entrance by skydiving with his groomsmen to the altar, while his bride arrived in a horse-drawn carriage.
The most recent Bates to get married was Katie, the 11th child; she married Travis Clark in December 2021. They met in Ocean City, New Jersey, and were dating in June 2019, but she announced that the official courting started in September 2019. Fans speculated that they were about to marry when they learned that Travis had already bought a home. They can’t wait to have children of their own.
Engaged and in a relationship
The fourth child, 30-year-old Lawson, was engaged to Tiffany Espensen, an MCU actor, after a year of dating; he proposed when they went to Italy for a vacation, and posted on social media, ‘I cannot wait to make a lifetime more of them with you! Thank you for saying ‘YES’ to our forever.’
Happy Honeymoon, Carlin and Evan! 😍 🏖️ ☀️ “I know I am in love with you because my reality is finally better than my dreams” Dr. Seuss
They are set to marry in May 2022. He works as a reserve deputy for Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and dabbles in music on the side.
Trace, the eighth child of Gil and Kelly, was reportedly dating Lydia Romeike. After he finished high school, he took over older brother Lawson’s lawn care business, and auditioned for trick riding at the Dixie Stampede. His parents hoped he’d pursue a college education first.
These two brothers were accused of being involved with other Trump supporters during the violent attack at the US Capitol in January 2021. The Bates family clarified that Lawson and Trace were among the protesters, but didn’t join the Capitol insurrection.
The rest of the children
Time flies so fast – 01 February 2022 marked a milestone for the family, because all of the Bates children’s ages are officially in double digits; the youngest in the family, Jeb, celebrated his 10th birthday. Trace also celebrated his birthday that day, turning 25 years old.
Another double birthday celebration happened on 17 February 2022, as Jackson, the 12th child turned 20, and number 15 Addallee turned 16. Updates on the younger ones were scarce, as people were more interested in the older Bates children. They are mostly given chores at home, and are currently being home-schooled.
Cancelation of the TV show
On 18 January 2022, the UP TV network announced the cancelation of “Bringing Up Bates”, saying ‘We will be focusing our programming in 2022 on movies, and a new scripted series to be announced soon.’ Fans were shocked, because the 11th season was already filmed and ready to be aired in February 2022. There were speculations that the real reason it was canceled was because of a video of the children playing a game that Carlin uploaded online, which some people labeled as racist. Allegedly, the kids were playing charades, and when someone pretended to be holding a gun, someone from the background shouted George Floyd. Everyone laughed at it, making his murder somewhat of a joke. The video was taken down immediately, but some fans already recorded it.
So folks, long live the extended Bates family – you can keep up to date online, whenever you need a boost, looking after your two kids!