Last night, TLC premiered Sister Wives, its new reality series about a man, Kody, his three wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and their thirteen children, all happily living in attached houses in Utah. The show, obviously fascinating, is characterized by an aggressive, relentless good cheer: Kody comes across as the happiest surfer dude of a polygamist you will ever meet; the kids are performatively adorable; and the wives insist on their own normalcy. Kody "rotates on a schedule" — which absolutely does not involve any group-sex situations. The women all have bedrooms, and Kody is invited into each of those bedrooms "alone. That's just how it is. We don't go weird." Good to know.
Maybe it's just me, but as a huge fan of Big Love on HBO, I found this family very odd. I think the father seems too feminine, and the fact that he kisses his wives on the top of their heads, yet his children on their lips, had me very weirded out. Also, why would they come forward when polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, including Utah? Why risk the legal repercussions of coming out of the plural-family closet, not to mention public scorn? (Technically, Kody is only married to his first wife; the other marriages, done in their church, are apparently considered common law marriages.)
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