On The Learning Channel (TLC-TV), we’ve learned What Not to Wear, how to Say Yes to the Dress and who is The Cake Boss. We’ve learned a lot more about Little People (in a) Big World, and how Kate Plus Eight is doing without Jon.
Some viewers have objected to 19 Kids and Counting or Toddlers and Tiaras…but this new attempt by The Learning Channel to “teach us” something has gone just a little too far.
TLC’s new show Sister Wives follows Kody Brown, a real-life polygamist in Utah, and his three wives as he begins to “court” a possible new fourth wife. This is no fictitious HBO Big Love. It’s the real deal. And according to TLC, they’re trying to navigate polygamy as a “normal” life in the midst of a society that shuns them. Anyone beside me see where this is leading?
Kody has three “wives” – Meri – the only one he’s really married to in the eyes of Utah law – Janelle and Christine (20, 17 and 16 years respectively). Together, they have 12 children among them (all by Kody), and one on the way (Christine is pregnant with her sixth). But that’s not enough for Kody. He’s now dating Robyn, a divorced mother of three who was raised in a polygamous home and wants to get back in to one.
Kody and his clan don’t live in a communal manner or dress atypically like the polygamists we learned about in the 2008 Texas custody case. They dress and talk like today’s American society. Although Kody’s fundamental Mormonism was visited in the premier, there was no mention of religion or faith-bound requirements in the two episodes reviewed here. TLC bills the show as the struggle of one man trying to juggle three wives while hiding it from the world. Poor guy. And yet, he’s trying for a fourth.
Actually, he’s trying with Meri’s blessing. They met Robyn at a party, and Meri just knew Robyn was the one, after Kody hadn’t considered anyone else in quite a while.
Sister Wives makes a bid for acceptance, but displays underlying hurt and confusion:
While the show attempts to depict Kody’s polygamy as just another wonderful, loving alternative, some of the actions and remarks during two early episodes hint at a different picture (any dialogue here is paraphrased, with review speculations in italics):
-Christine says she feels that by bringing Robyn into the picture, Kody’s replacing the families he already has, and that she’s losing her best friend in Kody. But she knows it “needs” to happen. Why does this “need” to happen?
-When Kody is about to take the usual 5-hour road trip to visit Robyn, Janelle says even though he goes away, Kody is careful to be sure all the wives have their needs met. No… this guy’s trying to meet his own insatiable “needs,” dear lady.
-Kody takes two of his oldest daughters with him on the trip. It’s quality time together on the road, he says, and they will baby-sit Robyn’s kids when he takes her out on a date this night. Gee…how convenient. Built-in babysitters. Sure enough, as soon as they arrive at Robyn’s, they ditch his daughters with her three kids and leave.
-Kody excuses this as trying to get the kids climatized to each other. You mean, desensitized to the situation? In the subsequent episode, one of these teenage daughters proclaims that if she were her mom, she’d be ripping Robyn’s hair out, and when she grows up she wants a husband all to herself. You go for it, girl! Get out of there.
– Kody calls polygamy his “lifestyle.” Hmmm…you mean, it’s a choice, not something you “need,” like your wives were brainwashed to think in their polygamous upbringing?
-Robyn, the girlfriend, says she doesn’t want to hurt anyone or make the others uncomfortable. Kody’s response is almost shocking…
-Kody says (in several pieces of dialogue for TLC’s cameras) that hurting them and making them uncomfortable is unavoidable; and that they all know it’s not rainbows and flowers watching him fall in love with another woman. He fears hurting his wives, because it “challenges” his pursuit of Robyn. They all chose this, he says, and they’ll struggle with it for a while.
How about the fact, sir, that if you had one wife and kids and you were faithful to them, you could avoid this whole world of hurt and struggle by not pursuing another woman?
-But his next comeback is that his wives will be comfortable when Robyn is his wife…they’re just not comfortable with him having a girlfriend. And this is logical, normal thinking?
-Christine admits there’s really nowhere to put more people in the house they all share. In the subsequent episode, we see Kody and his workhorses (wives and kids, no other men to help) loading up all the contents of Robyn’s house and moving her into a home one block away from the other residence. Everyone is relieved the five-hour trips will stop.
There is no mention on the show yet of where the money comes from for one man to support all these people. And the kids are in the middle of all this. Robyn just can’t wait until they’re considered a “normal” family.
Is another new addition to what “the pursuit of happiness” means in our Constitution fast-approaching? And who will find happiness…just the guy? Or will his wives and mal-adjusted kids be able to find some? Will America become a place where multiple wives sit around in harems waiting for the man to come by in order to “have his way” once in a while, and the children just have to endure it?
Call me judgmental, but the conclusion of this review is: Hope it has a short run.
Source: The Learning Channel, personal viewing of two episodes.