'Sister Wives' Episode Changes My Mind About Polygamy

Jacqueline Burt Cote

sister wives family
Kody breaks news of Vegas move
I can't get through an episode of HBO's polygamy drama Big Love without yelling, "You women have been brainwashed!" at the TV, so I never thought I'd end up sympathizing with the cast of TLC's polygamy reality show Sister Wives: Patriarch Kody Brown and wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.
Kody lost me right away when he called the idea of a woman with multiple husbands "vulgar." (What's good for the goose ...) As for the wives, I felt part sorry for them and part confused at how they could abide by such a gender role-warping lifestyle. They seem like intelligent women, caring moms, and good friends to each other ... the only difference between us and them seems to be the mindset that husband-sharing is an acceptable option.

Last night's heartbreaking episode, however, made me realize that no matter how backward the notion of plural marriage may be, the legalization of polygamy seems like a good idea.

In the episode "Gambling on the Future," Kody, the wives, and their 275 children (possibly I'm exaggerating but not by much) are hightailing it out of their hometown of Utah. Where are they going, you ask? Las Vegas, of course(?). I'm guessing they assume that in Vegas, they'll fade into the lunatic landscape and be left alone, and I hope that turns out to be the case. Since the Browns went public as polygamists, Kody was fired and law enforcement officials have been circling like sharks. Under existing law, Kody could go to jail for practicing his religion. The family is terrified of being split up against their will.

This last episode shows the wives and children packing up the houses at fever pitch, desperate to get away before getting busted and losing their family as they know it. Watching those poor confused kids burst into tears every time they hear a police siren in the distance, well, that changed everything for me. Suddenly something clicked: Was this a present-day American reality show or a movie set in Nazi-era Germany? Hey, and wasn't the whole point of this country the escape of religious persecution?

Robyn, the newest wife, never struck me as particularly wise before -- in fact, I would've pegged her as the most naive of the bunch -- but perhaps she summed it up best when she said, "This isn't the America I learned about in school growing up." Her eyes spilled over as she spoke.

She makes a good point. Separation of church and state, anyone?

Do you think the long arm of the law should lay off the Browns?


Image via TLC

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