It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we first had a glimpse into the Brown household. I must admit, I like this family. I like the various wives – even the bitchy ones. I even like the husband now. It took me a while to warm up to Kody Brown. (I think it has something to do with his hair.) But I am pretty sure he doesn’t lose sleep over the fact Patty took a while to warm up to him. I am not looking for another husband, and I hope that he isn’t looking for another wife – he has his hands full!
If you haven’t been watching this show, let me bring you up to speed. The Brown family are a group of polygamists. No, not those kind of polygamists. They don’t wear prairie dresses or subscribe to the teachings of Jeff Warren. The are kind of “new age” polygamists, I suppose. Kody has four wives and seventeen children. The women usually wear jeans and have fashionable hairdos. They lived in secrecy until the start of the show, when they came out of the plyg-closet in a big way. Shortly after the show started to air in 2010 the state of Utah announced it was investigating the family with the possibility of charging them with bigamy, a third-degree felony. In response, the family loaded up the truck and moved to Las Vegas.
The early shows had a much lighter feel to them. We heard how Christine never uses a toaster, because more people die from toasters than shark attacks each year, dontchaknow? We saw a loving Dad tucking in his little kids each night. We saw busy Moms trying to hold it all together. The house looked like it was decorated in Early Garage Sale and the kids were adorable. But since arriving in Las Vegas it feels like the show is filled with angst and tears along with the nicer furnishings in the new houses. Last night this tweet summed it up:
— Sandra Alfermann (@SAlfermann) December 29, 2013
This is where all reality shows get a little murky. In the beginning it’s great just to watch the day-to-day activities of an unusual family. But as seasons continue, producers seem to want to ramp up the drama. Forget the toaster, producers think we want to hear the wives’ innermost thoughts, ad nauseam, on what’s going on with her marriage or the dirt on how the wives really feel about each other. The whole show seems to be one big therapy session, complete with lots of tears. Kleenex should be a sponsor!
On last night’s show all of the mother-in-laws showed up in Vegas for Mother’s Day. Let the mayham ensue! Except it didn’t. The mother-in-laws, all four of them, seem like really lovely ladies. They reminded Cody to keep things equal when picking out Mother’s Day presents for his wives (duh!), and we even heard how one mother-in-law encouraged Christine and Cody to stay close with Christine’s mother when she left the polygamist lifestyle. Kody said a bonus of his lifestyle was he could identify with friends who love their mother-in-law and he could also identify with friends who hated their mother-in-law. He declined to say which mother-in-laws are which for him. He has learned something in twenty years of marriage to four women!
The truly heartbreaking moment of the night was when Janelle’s mom described her early days as the second wife as “hell”. Wow. I don’t think I have ever heard someone describe their marriage as “hell” unless it was abusive or dangerous. The Browns are religious folks, so if a mom used the word “hell”, it must have really been bad. Even though the show doesn’t heavily focus on the religious beliefs of the family, through last night’s episode it really hit home to me how this family feels that it is God’s will that they live this way. It seems to me they believe that as they work through the jealousy and other emotional issues surrounding sharing their husband, they will become better people and closer to God. It’s hard for an outsider to fully understand. Never once has God given me even an inkling that I should live a polygamist life.
The other thing that really came across loud and clear in last night’s show was that the extended family is just not that close. Perhaps it’s an issue of money and distance or just the number of people involved, but last night was the first time all the mother-in-law’s have gotten together. While Kody and Robin (the fourth wife) have only been married three years, the other marriages range from 16 to 20 years. It was surprising to me there was talk of the moms getting to know each other, especially when you take into account that the mother of Kody’s second wife Janelle is married to Kody’s dad. But come to think of it, Kody’s wives aren’t even that close. They each have their own large house in Vegas but seem to live separate lives. Until last night’s episode, the family had never gotten together to talk about how (and how much) they will pay for each child to go to college. Yikes! You’d think finances would be a big topic in such a large family. Cue the tears as Meri’s daughter wants to go to a college that costs four times as much as the colleges the other children are attending.
Getting closer as a family is a big theme of the show. The kids seem close in their large family. Not surprisingly, it’s the wive’s relationships that need work. In the preview for upcoming episodes this season there is talk of a “commitment ceremony”. Here we go again: the reality show wedding. It’s the favorite meme of the reality TV producer. I just hope Christine and Janelle get nice wedding dresses this time.
So what do you think about this show? Too many tears? Do you think the Browns are proselytizing or just looking for acceptance. Do you watch?