I am obsessed with Sister Wives on TLC.
I wasn’t sure I was going to watch that show because I’m not sure polygamy is a super-good idea and maybe we shouldn’t glorify it, right? But who am I kidding? I watched The Girls Next Door, with the original girls and with the annoying Shannon twins. And Big Love. LOVE Big Love. Of course I was going to watch Sister Wives!
I’m kind of fascinated with polygamy and fundamentalist sects that follow that principle of Mormon teaching. I read Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer a few years ago and my head nearly exploded when I learned that Joseph Smith had his “testimony” about plural marriage shortly after confessing to a friend that he got horny when he looked at young hot women. I’m no theologian but I don’t think that religious leaders usually add to doctrine just because they’ve got a hard-on. If that were the case, the Catholic Church would have added pedophilia to Church canon rather than just covering abuse up. Just saying. Then just recently, I read Escape by Carolyn Jessop who was the first woman to retain custody of her children after escaping the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound led by Warren Jeffs. That lady? Should have her face on Mount Rushmore for having the bravery to decide that eternity with the man who abused her was worse than the hell she was told she be condemned to for leaving him. She was really interesting because she didn’t paint all plural marriages with one brush – she didn’t address any plural marriage but her own. Which was horrible. She also talked about Jeffs’ rise to power and the totally deranged way he led the FLDS. The man banned the color red. And the word fun. Yeah.
I also watch Big Love because that show is awesome. At least it was until this most recent season when Bill was running for office and ran afoul of Sissy Spacek as a vindictive lobbyist who decided to ruin him. Um, hello? I work in DC. I know big time contract lobbyists. They would NEVER piss off a potential lawmaker. Lobbyists make their living sucking up to everyone in sight. Revenge? Is not good for business.
Anyway, it might be safe to say that I have an unseemly interest in polygamist (and pseudo-polygamist in the case of Hef and friends) relationships. It might even be safe to say I should have gone into cultural anthropology to study polygamist relationships so that I could at least claim a serious academic interest rather than just being a weird voyeur. But the end result is the same: I’m obsessed with Sister Wives.
I’m going to go ahead and get my constant refrain about family-based reality shows out of the way right up front: PUTTING KIDS ON REALITY TV IS A BAD IDEA. Ya hear that, Kody? Bad. Idea. Bad one.
Anyway here’s the rundown for those of you who are not polygamist obsessed: Kody Brown is a guy who needs to accept his receding hairline with grace. He has three wives and 13 kids. They decided going on tv was a great way to show that polygamist families are wholesome and normal. He’s courting another wife who has three kids from a previous marriage. There are lots of conversations with Kody and different combos of wives on a couch. They all cry a lot.
The Girls Next Door never cried as much as these people.
The first wife, Meri, appears to be clinically depressed. If I had to guess, I’d say it comes from years of unexplained infertility (she does have one child and had one miscarriage) coupled with a husband who has two other wives who he knocks up regularly.
The second wife, Janelle, does not appear to like being around her 6 kids or any of the other ones. She talks a lot about enjoying her job, enjoying the freedom of letting the other wives care for her kids, and enjoys being able to go do her own thing when she wants to. There was a long sequence in one episode showing her son getting all her kids up and fed in the morning.
The third wife, Christine just had baby number 7 and named it Truley. All of her kids have weird names. She’s the only wife who doesn’t work so I guess she’s doing the bulk of raising the whole family.
The fourth wife, Robyn, was in a monogamous marriage before, has three kids, and was brought into the fold at Meri’s behest.
Kody, the husband, walks around like he has a golden ticket in his pants and drives a Lexus two-seater. He thinks he’s an awesome husband and father but I’d like to see someone give him a pop quiz on his kids’ names. He seems way more into interacting with the wives than the kids.
There is nothing I find appealing about him and I cannot for the life of me figure out why these four women want to hitch their wagons to him. But I also feel that way about Robert Pattinson and there are women all over the world lining up to throw panties at him so who am I to judge? I also don’t get why these women would sign up to only have a quarter of a marriage. There are already so many demands on individuals that make it difficult for spouses to connect, why add more by engaging in a polygamist marriage?
And don’t get me started on the inherent sexism of a system that allows men multiple partners but forbids women that same choice.
But at the end of the day, I find I just don’t care very much about the morality of a consensual, adult, polygamist relationships. Can’t get real fired up about the construct. If there’s abuse? If there are underage partners? If there’s coercion? I will call 911 on your ass. But this marriage? Meh. My main objection is how unappealing I find Kody. I mean, really he’s kind of a douche. With bad hair. Who dances like a tree in a hurricane. But if they like him, I guess it’s ok. Not jailworthy, certainly. But their county disagrees and is investigating them for felony bigamy because in Utah, even the pretend, not-legal marriage with spirit wives in addition to your one legal spouse is illegal. If I were a resident of that county I’d be grouchy about use of tax-payer funds for that investigation, especially if I had a big pothole in front of my house that wasn’t getting filled.
But mostly? I just want them to get their kids off tv. And I really want Kody to get a haricut.