Let’s Talk about Sister Wives.

Oh, wow.

I knew Sister Wives was premiering on TLC on Sunday night, but to be honest, it came on after my bedtime.  Since I’m usually at work by 7:00 a.m., my morning routines require that I’m in bed by nine.  I’m kind of old that way.


I watched it last night.. rather, I should say, I was forced to watch it last night.  I was ecstatic about watching it until it came time to, and really, the reality of being exposed to a lifestyle I don’t understand (or condone, really) made me crazy uncomfortable.  Bryan turned it on, even though I passively said I didn’t want to watch it, and we were at the races.

Y’ALL, THIS SHOW HAS ME SO CONFLICTED.  On the one hand, I really like the wives.  All of them, to an extent.  Like, I would befriend these women.  They seem unexpectedly normal.  They wear makeup, they wear jeans, they laugh and tease and enjoy the gaggle of children.  They remind me of my friends.  And that?  I was not expecting.

Then Bryan hit the nail on the head.  “I think watching this show is like a lot of people feel about gay marriage.  It’s not wrong or awful or sick, it’s just not traditional.  It’s just different.”


And?  The wives had TONS of logic that I couldn’t argue with.  It gives me more time to do things I want to do, they’d say.  Well, HELL YEAH.  I’m all about throwing my kids at another mom and heading to the movies.  That’s pretty damn awesome.  Our kids have always had this, so they get the benefit of three different parenting styles.  I think that’s pretty nifty, too.  The kids seem fairly well-adjusted, minus Wife#3’s need to name her children bizarre, spelled-wrong names. (Ysbel? Mykelti? Aspyn?)

But then: there’s the husband.  And, look, while I’ll agree that he seems to be a very loving father who dotes on his children.. I cannot get past the kid-in-a-candy-store look that this guy wears.  All the time.  “I fell in love.  Then I fell in love again!  And again!”  Um .. yeah, can’t agree here.  “Love is meant to be multiplied, not divided.”  I agree; I guess I don’t feel that a traditional marriage divides it.

And then he drops the bombshell: he’s looking to add a fourth wife.

So he’s been courting Robin, who “grew up in the lifestyle”, but is a single mom of three kids. (I HAVE TO KNOW THIS HISTORY.  How can you grow up in a fundamentalist lifestyle and then divorce?  DOES NOT COMPUTE.) Also.. I’m sorry, but she has HOMEWRECKER written all over her.  Even I, who has no dog in this fight whatsoever, felt protective of the current wives and their children when I saw her.

Aside: what happens in these families with the patriarch passes?  (Bryan: Well, I’m pretty sure it’s customary that they feed on him.  Then the eldest son takes over the Head of Household and is then expected to seed the wives.  It’s where “Feed & Seed” comes from.)

And although Kody the Husband made the Big Announcement to the whole family about courting a new wife, I am not believing that all twelve kids, ranging in ages from 5-15, are especially excited about this.  A few children expressed hesitance, and all adults jumped on them.  And a doe-eyed blonde girl bubbled over with excitement about sharing this news, to which the family instructed her to NOT TALK ABOUT IT.  “This is family business,” Kody the Husband warned her. 

… that level of secrecy is unfortunate.  I’m not sure if it’s unfortunate because it forces the children to live a life of lies outside of their home, or because it feels VERY MUCH like the speech pedophiles use to intimidate their victims.

All in all, I’m really, really torn.  The kids seems smart, happy, well-adjusted.  And they are my #1 concern in this.  Don’t know if y’all caught this, but I yearn for a large family.  So if you view the tableau in a Monet fashion, with overarching broad strokes, I find a lot of this family appealing.

But there is something dark in there.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it left me strongly unsettled for the rest of the night.  I hope I’ll be swayed into the happy lull of Reality TV in future episodes by crafty editing, but the “This Season, on Sister Wives” clip at the end of the premier seemed to be rife with tears, angst, jealousy, and anger.

I really, really wonder how the polygamist community feels about this show.

Okay, enough: who else watched it?  SPILL.  There is no judgement here.

9 Responses to Let’s Talk about Sister Wives.

  1. Courtney September 28, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    I’m so glad someone else watched it!! I was starting to feel a little slimey (although I’m not sure if that’s the correct word) for watching. It was not what I expected. I was shocked at how normal everyone seemed (minus the fact that they are ok with their husband sleeping with someone else every other night) and how personable they were. There is DEFINITELY something about that show that has left an uneasiness in my stomach though.

    Wife # 3 shouldn’t be allowed to choose the names for her children anymore – Truly? Ysabel? Really!

    Also, they haven’t really talked about how polygamy is illegal. Technically they all aren’t married to Kody. I wish they’d address that. And about Kody – you’d have that stupid grin if it was your job to get more wives, have lots of sex, and then pass off most of your responsibilities. These women are putting up with a lot more than him. What does he do for a living besides driving 4 hours in a Lexus sports car to go court/date a new woman?

    As for Robyn, where’s the father of her children? I wish they’d give more back story b/c they are setting her up as the homewrecker. She’s cuter, younger, and is about to stir everything up.

    What religious sect did they say they belong to? I flipped it on 2 min after it started and I caught the end of him saying they weren’t Mormons.

    I’m setting up a series DVR recording to catch this for sure.

  2. kristi September 28, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    OMG, I HAD to watch this show. And let me say, I agree 100 percent. I loved that one of the wives was honest when she said she gets jealous. And I am not sure WHY he would bring in another woman with 3 kids…it doesn’t add up.
    And that oldest son, how amazing was he?? Damn, I want my daughter to marry a guy like that. But not a guy who wants 2 or 3 other wives.
    And you saw how confused the husband is, he couldn’t even find his clothes.

  3. elsewise September 28, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    I, too, loved the normalcy of the wives and children – and even Kody, with his impressive attempts to greet all the wives first thing every morning, check on all the children every night, and manage his time around fairness for all. They really did seem to have a nice arrangement in place that benefited all of them, so I don’t understand why the heck they’re okay with Robin entering the mix.

    This morning, my thoughts are all bubbling around feminism. This family has taken the challenge of combining the interests and responsibilities of being a wife, mother, and career woman by divvying up those roles among three women (in that #1 runs the family structure, #2 works from 6am to 7pm while someone else puts dinner on the table, and #3 is the stay-at-home childrearer). Does this give them more opportunities (like Meri exploring her interests and going back to school, or Janelle getting out of the drudgery of making dinner), or does it rob them of autonomy by making them reliant on this rigid and co-dependent family structure?

    (Um, I might’ve just googled feminist theory as part of my sad attempt to elevate the experience of watching Sister Wives past trashy timesuckage.)

  4. Leandra September 28, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    I haven’t watched the show but I’m not sure I could get past my ick factor at the husband’s behavior. I have joked about wishing *I* had a wife, but I wouldn’t want to share my husband with anyone. Housework, yes? Husband, no.

  5. AmyBlam September 28, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    That’s what I twittered you yesterday, they seem fairly normal. I do agree something seems off but I think it’s him. I also don’t think the first wife is as gung ho as she acts. Reminds me of Big Love. Like hooray for wives who can pop out more than one kid!
    I think they need to give background on the new wife, maybe her hubs died?
    Also I was kind of stuck on the whole polygamy being illegal yet they’re broadcasting it on tv?

  6. Mint September 28, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Ashley and I both watched the show Sunday, and I, like many others, still haven’t fully processed it yet. I do have a really hard time condemning them for their lifestyle, as I’ve spent too much energy myself condemning others who judge.

    It seems like the system works for them now, but I do have concerns about the children’s future. What kind of impact does this environment have on the children when they’re older and are trying to accumulate themselves in the ‘real world’ outside their box. In their defense, the children seem MUCH less sheltered and more apt to get by than a family like the Duggars.

    The husband really does rub me the wrong way though. His motives for the ‘new’ wife seem quite selfish. I also have doubts about his parenting, but honestly, I’d be pretty pissed if someone judged my parenting abilities from a 1 hour TV segment.

    In conclusion, I think the last thing this guy needs is another wife. If there were any arguments to be made, I’d say the wives deserve more husbands 🙂

  7. Shannon September 28, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Thank gawd I wasn’t the only one watching it or the only one who had the feeling. I saw the same thing with the sister wives (the friendship, the co-parenting, etc.) but I just couldn’t imagine kissing my husband goodnight and then him going and climbing into another woman’s bed. I also agree that there is backstory on this Robin chick. Guess I’m going to have to tune back in (shudder…). Mixed feelings abound on this one.

  8. Shana September 28, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    I haven’t watched the show, but I am drawn to it in the way that others are drawn to the show Hoarders, for example, because the lifestyle is so unlike my own or anything I have experienced.

    Keeping my lack of watching in mind…
    – Let me just get it off my chest that I hate when gay marriage is lumped together with polygamy. It makes the fight for gay marriage even more difficult because a love between two people of the same sex is then viewed under the same, difficult to grasp, concept of a love between a man and his many wives. It is viewed in the same category as those mormon families we see on the news who have been victims of abuse and incest and even more firmly cements the notion that it is a sin into the minds of those against it. For me there is no comparison – I can see how others would/could group them together, but that’s a whole other discussion…

    – That being said, I think that it is interesting to have a new reality show that sheds light on an aspect of polygamy that most of us haven’t heard of (being so used to the view portrayed by the polygamist sects in the news). I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving it a voice, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with myself in denying them the possibility of telling their story, despite my discomfort in the idea.

    – I don’t want to accept it. I feel like the whole concept is greedy and too extreme because I don’t understand it. I have a difficult time accepting the idea of polygamy and polyamory because I don’t think I would be able to live a life in that situation, that being said I want to try my best to keep an open mind. I am drawn to the tv show because I do want to understand, but the fact that it is being presented in reality tv makes me want to distrust it more. I don’t think I need to get into how reality tv doesn’t give a fair interpretation of real life. Unfortunately, this is the closest we may get to having the opportunity to get an inside look. That being said, are they playing it up for the camera? Is that dark something that a few of you have picked up on something behind the camera and story that isn’t quite right, or is it simply your discomfort at having your eyes opened to a new lifestyle?

    – There are so many fascinating discussions you could begin with this. From the idea of how far should religion be allowed to govern our ways of living and loving to what is justly within society’s realm of being able to control the way we live our lives? Or just the general commentary of how different it is, how it has the potential to make us question our way of living and reexamine our thoughts to see if we really are correct in distrusting and disregarding something so outside of our idea of normalcy.

  9. Lisa October 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    I finally got this to download from OnDemand and I’ve watched it a couple of times. Part of me likes the wives and the show, but part of me feels that there is something really shady going on. Obviously, the wives are all a bit upset about adding a fourth and I can understand that. They’ve been together for sixteen years, they’ve all raised their children together, adding someone now is a big change. And Kody decides to do this when one of his wives is pregnant? I just think there has to be some serious manipulation going on that we’re not seeing, or else he wouldn’t be taking a fourth. He might play the easy-going doofus guy, but I think there is probably something much more sinister there.

    I think the three original wives should all leave him and go be sister ex-wives together.

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