In the Clutches of Sister Wives

Have you seen Sister Wives on TLC? 

It’s a reality show that chronicles the life of the Browns, a large polygamist family from Utah.

Reality television is of course, a man-made disaster that kills brain cells on contact, and it should be avoided at all costs. Yet in the case of Sister Wives, I am helpless against its power. Viewers of this show are literally mesmerized, and are not to be held responsible for their condition.

Today is just an introduction to Sister Wives: a portal through which the uninitiated may climb to enter the world of polygamist reality TV stars.

In the early 1990s, Kody Brown married Meri, Janelle, and Christine, who refer to each other as sister wives. Over the course of nearly two decades, they lived together in a single home, and produced thirteen children. The Browns are Mormons, of course, though polygamy is now illegal and officially disavowed by the Mormon church.


The show more or less began when Meri – Kody’s only legal wife – introduced him to Robyn, a divorcee with three children. It wasn’t long before Kody, a 43-year-old salesman, secured Robyn’s agreement to become Wife 4.

L-R. Janelle, Christine, Kody, Meri, and Robyn

The addition of Robyn, her three children, and the pregnancy that soon follows her marriage to Kody, brings the family to a total of 22. (That’s one husband, four wives, and seventeen children.)

So far, this is all fairly straightforward, yes?

What with the reality show, the public interest in their lives, and the reliable paparazzi closing in from all angles, it wasn’t long before the Browns’, uh, “living arrangement” came to the government’s attention. Utah opened a bigamy investigation, which prompted the family to flee the state (camera crews in tow) and set up shop in Las Vegas.

Their troubles didn’t end there. In what reveals itself as a sad lack of imagination on the part of Nevada architects, not a single Las Vegas home was available with separate living quarters for four wives and their respective children. So, the Browns rented separate homes for each wife and her children, with Kody on permanent rotation between them.

So now you are all up to speed. You’re welcome. Of course, this information is probably enough to keep you up for the next several nights, just wondering. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg! Sister Wives abounds with surreal conversations, situations, and interactions, as well as mysterious circumstances no one seems to think require an explanation (like who pays the rent for these four residences?). There’s enough material here for a lifetime of blogs.

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