Tucked up next to Canada, Minnesota is a seemingly tranquil state. From Minnesota, it can be hard to imagine the insanity happening in the very same country. The nightclubs of Miami Beach to Wall Street in New York, or even the bright lights of Las Vegas might as well be in another world when considering the great state of Minnesota. One way for the fine folks of Minnesota to gain a window to the rest of the world is through satellite TV. By watching what is going on elsewhere, people all over the country get an idea of how other people in other places live. Exploring, gawking at, or simply appreciating other cultures from afar is a luxury that mass communication affords. Recently, the network TLC has begun portraying the lives of various families around the country. Whether on John and Kate Plus Eight with their sextuplets, or The Duggars with 19 children, people out there raising kids like to see the struggles that others are facing, and marvel at exactly how those other people do it. Now, however, TLC is touching on something that it will be even harder for the vast majority of people in the country to identify with, polygamy.
The practice of taking multiple wives, or Bigamy as it is known, has been declared illegal in Utah and Arizona, both states with large Mormon populations. By some, but not all, modern Mormons beliefs, practicing Bigamy is the only way to achieve exaltation in the next life. Known as Intermountain West polygamous sects, it is estimated that nearly 40,000 people practice polygamy despite it being illegal. The family, the Brown family, that will be participating in the new show is taking a big risk of being prosecuted by appearing on national satellite TV. They claim that it is worth the risk to dispel rumors about their lifestyle, and give some reality to the portrayal of polygamy provided by the HBO drama Big Love.
Entitled Sister Wives, the show will follow Kody Brown, his three wives and 13 children as they go about their everyday lives. The women, or sister wives as they are known, are all there voluntarily and the only legally recognized wife is Browns first, a woman named Meri. Despite the stereotype of a Mormon connection, the family group claims that they are not actually members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Instead of focusing on religion, the program has decided to concentrate on the family dynamic as a new wife is brought into the mix.
Much to the disappointment of many viewers, the program will not be taking a page out of the satellite TV network HBOs book and focusing on the sexual aspects of the polygamous household structure. Instead, the women intend to show that their lifestyle is sane and stable. Of course, engaging in any lifestyle that goes against the grain of mainstream America opens a family up to the criticism of others, but in this case that same criticism is something the Brown family would like to aid and abet once and for all. Its a sure bet that many Minnesota families will be looking on with a great deal of curiosity.