TLC’s Sister Wives: A Surprisingly Redeeming Reality TV Show
For the most part, reality TV shows sort of disgust me. I think it’s fair to say that many of them position the viewer to make a judgment call on the show’s participants, dubbing the cast of characters as a collection of village idiots.
In TLC’s Sister Wives, a fundamentalist Mormon, Kody Brown, along with his 4 wives and 17 children, attempt to show the world that despite their untraditional (and unpopular) choice of lifestyle, they’re really not that different after all.
That sounds like the perfect formula for a reality TV show where we “normal people” again get to enjoy the guilty pleasure of gawking at the far less ordinary.
But the truth is, Sister Wives is actually a very redeeming TV show, if I do say so myself. I don’t look down on the Brown family at all. In fact, in many ways, I admire them.
It’s difficult not to have compassion for a man who works very hard to support his wife and kids, multiplied times 4, and makes great efforts to show all of them through his actions and words that he loves them.
I also can’t help but notice that the children actually seem to like each other. The bond between them and the way they care for each other is something I find refreshing on a TV show featuring a family.
Perhaps the best part of Sister Wives is its subtle Libertarian message. Much of the show’s 2nd season is based around the fact that the city of Lehi, and eventually the state of Utah, begin flexing their muscles and baring their teeth at the Brown family; intimidating them from a legal standpoint.
As Kody Brown explains, throughout American history it has not been uncommon for the children of polygamist families to be split up and displaced, while their parents are incarcerated. After all, polygamy (plural marriage) is illegal in our country.
So the family moves to Las Vegas, where their lifestyle is much more accepted and much less of a legal threat as it is in the rest of America.
I’m assuming that most of us don’t morally endorse polygamy. But that’s far from the point.
After making it through the first two seasons of Sister Wives, you can’t help but ask yourself:
Which is worse: For a hard-working man to legally marry his first wife, then “illegally” marry 3 more, or for the state to split up this family over their consensual civil unions?
Marriage is an extremely personal choice; sometimes modeled after a person’s certain religious beliefs, while other times there’s nothing particularly religious at all about it.
Either way, why is it our government’s job to get in the middle of that? (Remember the plot of Braveheart? I bet the first time I watched that movie is when the seed was planted in my brain to eventually become a Ron Paul supporter.)
In the case of the Brown family, their fundamentalist Mormon beliefs teach them they are pleasing God by their lifestyle. I’m having trouble seeing how their polygamist lifestyle is actually hurting anyone else.
(Obviously, we as America don’t seem to be too much against Sister Wives because we keep making it a popular show on TLC.)
Why can’t the Brown family be allowed to practice their religion, and therefore their lifestyle, without the hassle of government intervention?
Is it because kids are involved? Are we fearful that the Brown kids are being brainwashed and won’t be able to make their own decisions as adults on whether or not to continue being polygamists? Should that itself be a crime?
I say what matters more is not that a child has one dad and one mom.
What matters is that a child is raised knowing they are loved and believed in by those who raise them.
And for the record, my favorite sister wife on the show is Christine.