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Sister Wives and Brother Husbands

by Caryn James
March 15, 2011 2:38 AM
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The strong responses from readers about the season premiere of Sister Wives shows how starkly the issue of polygamy divides people, from some who envy the Browns’ communal family to more skeptical readers who point out how much we don’t see on the reality show. (If you missed it, here’s my review and the comments; thanks to everyone for responding and feel free to add more.)

One major question the Browns have been asked by Oprah and others, but never answered adequately: how do they support all those kids? Or rather how did they before they got a TV show? Even if three of the four mothers work, we’re talking about 16 children!

Then there’s the religious belief that husbands should have many wives but not the other way around. (Both shows go out of their way to note that polygamy is no longer condoned by the mainstream Mormon Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints; the polygamists are renegades.)

HBO’s drama Big Love began to tackle the issue of sexism this season when first wife Barb decided she was called to the priesthood and went searching for a church that would allow women to minister. She didn’t go so far as to question why women don’t have several husbands. But thanks to Big Love (the finale to the entire series comes this Sunday) and now Sister Wives, polygamy has become so entrenched in pop culture that a flood of comic responses have been based on that extremely obvious, serious double-standard.

Most are too obvious to be very funny or trenchant, but the latest, best satire came from an unexpected source: the ABC comedy Raising Hope. The sitcom is about a family that is not so much unconventional as lax about everything; teenaged Jimmy had a one-night stand with a woman who soon got the death penalty for murder, leaving him and his family with a daughter to raise. It’s not cutting or sophisticated humor, but it is class-conscious, and in this clip it is dead-on in its take on the arrival of a cousin and his new bride.

It seems to me that the Browns on Sister Wives are just as much cardboard characters as the sitcom people here. Take a look:

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  • Tabatha REnee | April 4, 2011 4:48 AMReply

    I don't know what to think of the browns and their choice of having one husband and four wives, however, I don't think they are dumb or uneducated and I do think that is a rather harsh statement!!! I don't feel they are dumb at all, they present themselves to be quiet the opposite! Why do people feel the browns are so dumb and uneducated?? WHere does this theory come from? Whatever lifestyle they choose is up to them, and between them and God, who are we to judge them?? When I first watched their show I was blown away, and I even felt like it was wrong to think that a man could have many wives yet a woman was to only have one husband...but that is their belief and like I said who are we to judge??? I think to jump to such quick judgment against them is a bit uneducated, anytime there is a situation I dont know about, that is different to me, or even strange I like to educate myself!!! Do some research and find out why it is the way it is, and I am just now researching the polygamist relationships and so far its very interesting!! I dont know if I, personally, could handle sharing my husband but I will not condem those who do!!!! It is wild to me how well they all get alone, conisdering the divorce rate in America these days due to people cheating or just plain being abusive to each other, I say as long as they are all getting alone, like they obviously do, and no one is getting hurt then good for them!!!! I think its funny how most are always saying, accept people for their differences and that goes for the gay community, people from different religious backgrounds, and of different races!! SO why is it so hard for everyone to accept the Plural Marriages?? Leave them be, let them do their thing, and mind your own business, if you dont like them or their show then just turn the channel!!!!!!!!!

  • rachel joshon grace | March 16, 2011 4:59 AMReply

    has like your show,

  • POETICO | March 15, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    The Browns are your typical uneducated polygamists who want to be accepted for their backward lifestyle. The Browns are probably in dire financial straits, too, like most polygamists. Not a pot to piss in. Can't afford to educate their kids. No real future plans. Taking a free ride on public handouts. Contributing nothing to society. Dumb dumb dumb.

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