That was quick. The cast of TLC’s new show, “Sister Wives,” is now under investigation by police for possible charges related to bigamy, a third-degree felony in their home state of Utah.
The investigation commenced promptly after TLC’s announcement of the show, and launched into full-swing after their airing of the debut episode this past Sunday. “Sister Wives” revolves around Kody Brown and his four wives — Janelle, Meri, Christine, and Robyn — and their combined 16 children.
Before the show aired, the Browns had all apparently been in agreement that there was some legal risk in exposing their family’s lifestyle to national media attention. They decided that it was worth it to get the chance to show the mainstream media and average Americans that polygamists were not all extremists.
Reality TV personalities seem to get in legal trouble pretty often, usually to the detriment of their shows. In 2003, the stars of Fox and E! Entertainment Channel’s “The Simple Life,” Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, were both in legal trouble stemming from individual DUI charges. The controversy overshadowed the series and made it difficult to shoot, and E! canceled it after the fifth season’s poor ratings.
TLC has had legal troubles before as well. In 2009, their immensely popular series “Jon & Kate Plus 8” came under scrutiny from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for a child labor complaint. TLC and its stars had to defend the children’s involvement in the series in the media to keep people watching.
First “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch is probably the forerunner of reality TV legal troubles. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving time for tax evasion stemming from his “Survivor” winnings. The charges caused a media uproar, and “Survivor” has never really recovered from the negative attention garnered from Hatch’s antics.
The cast of “Sister Wives” may or may not be formally charged, but it doesn’t bode well for TLC that their new show is being investigated so quickly. This is the time when a new show is supposed to be gaining viewers, and the legal troubles may impede that significantly if they cause breaks in shooting or cause viewers to simply not tune in to watch.
Lauren Effron, “TLC’s ‘Sister Wives’ Family Under Investigation for Bigamy.” ABCNews.com
MSNBC.MSN.com, “Richard Hatch Ends Federal Evasion Sentence.”
Nicole Weisensee Egan, “Jon & Kate Being Investigated for Child Labor Complaint.” People.com
AccessHollywood.com, “Top Ten Heir Heads.”
TLC.Discovery.Com, “Sister Wives.”