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TV Open Thread: Sister Wives- “No Place for Home”

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This week’s half-hour opens with Kody and Christine at loggerheads, angry and utterly opposed to one another. Christine doesn’t want to move from Utah despite the police investigation (now turned over to the prosecutor’s office); she appears to feel that the situation can be ridden like a wave, or perhaps simply doesn’t want to think about what will happen if they stay.

Kody has decided that he has to “be the leader” and firmly chooses to make the decision to move to Las Vegas. “The main reason we have to move is to preserve our family, and we’re moving in eight days.”

“I know it’s unfair, but I feel that the most important thing is that we keep the family together… and we’re going to leave in eight days,” Kody says firmly. There is a lot of anger and tension in the Brown’s polygamist menage.

The older children decide to “be positive, because we’re sick of the grownups being negative.” They are aware of the possibility they can be broken up and not allowed to grow up as brothers and sisters. They put up signs urging the grownups not to despair and to be positive, and do their best to put on a show of determined good cheer,both for the distraught grownups and for the younger kids, who still don’t know what’s happening and who look up to them.

The older children’s “Be postive” movement seems to delight Kody, who says, “Our kids decide to “correct” us!”
Part of the reason to move quickly is that the children’s school semester is coming to an end, and the one in Las Vegas begins shortly. Another, of course, is that Kody can be taken off to jail at any moment.

Meri, Kody, and Robyn travel to Las Vegas, meeting up with Robyn’s father, who lives there, to seek new houses—not an easy task for a family of more than twenty people. At the same time, the family members who stay home plan to put on a surprise party for Meri’s birthday though “Meri is never fooled,” says Janelle. They decide to arrange the party while Meri’s away—and they settle on a “’70s theme,” since Meri was born in the ’70s. A friend agrees to cater the party for free as a gift to Meri. Janelle and Christine, with some of the children, shop for pet rocks, headbands and male and female “gender pendants.”
Meri, Robyn and Kody, calling realtors in Nevada, discover that there are no giant, 15-bedroom polygamist homes in Las Vegas. (I wondered what it must cost to heat those immense houses, and how much effort it must take to keep them clean!)

Kody complains that if the family has to live in four different homes, it will be hard for him to say good night to each wife, something they always want. He wants proximity—ideally one giant house—for the family, something their realtor, Mona, tells them will be impossible to find in Vegas. There are no more than five bedrooms in any house in Las Vegas, but “the market is affordable here right now, so we are going to try to find four individual homes that will meet their needs,” the realtor says. She wants to help them.

“It doesn’t feel as “family” as when you have all your children in the same house,” Kody says. Mona, the realtor, tries to help. She is able to locate four homes in one subdivision, on the same street, owned by a developer who is willing to consider owner financing.
“Let’s get over there right away!” says Kody. Excited about the large houses with more square footage than the houses they have back at home, they make an offer on the houses and hope that it will be accepted. When Robyn’s video of the Vegas houses is sent to the wives who stayed home, Christine begins to feel differently—“The houses are beautiful! And new!” They are also about double in square footage to the houses the family live in at present. Kody figures that four houses will work, and that later he can get a builder to create a giant house in which they can live later on. “We must move in eight days,” is a recurrent theme—when the children’s school comes to an end. “I know that the move will be an absolute challenge to our children,” Kody says.

Looking at clothes back in Utah for the party, Janelle and Christine send Robyn a picture of a dress she considers “hideous.” The ’70s apparently aren’t her style.

The family waits for their three wandering members in Meri’s living room, and leap up as Kody, Meri and Robyn enter, yelling “surprise!” and Meri is, to the family’s glee and pleasure, definitely surprised. The other wives and the children are awaiting with Meri’s surprise birthday party, and when the Kody, Meri and Robyn walk in, they yell “Surprise!” To their pleasure, Meri is surprised

Kody says it was wonderful to come back to a party—“A burden off my shoulders.” But afterwards, speaking of the stress they are under, he becomes very upset, thinking of the children’s feelings.
In scenes from the next episode, we see that the younger children learn that they will be moving to Utah, just a few days before the move—and they are shocked and unhappy. “I like it here!” one boy says.How hard for them to suddenly find out that they will have to move in three or four days to a whole new world!

On top of this, as they talk on the couch a few days after the party, Meri says that their offer on the four Nevada houses has been declined. Though they have no “Plan B,” Kody says that now they must go anyway, and that they will now tell the young children—whom they say they have been protecting—that they are moving in a few days. For virtually the first time, at least on television, the sunny, upbeat Kody breaks down and cries. “Chrisine tells a story about her dad’s dad moving all his wives to different states—they never got back together again. Now we own that story,” he says, tears in his eyes. “Or we don’t want to own that story,” Christine says.

Yet the Browns are determined to continue with their move to Vegas, to “preserve our family.” There are only two episodes left in the season, and the family has nowhere to “land,” as Christine says. There is no room at the inn—yet they will travel onward anyway.

I liked what the older children say: “This is a lifestyle, not a crime– we’re not hurting anyone,” as one of the sons says, and that they can “correct” the adults by posting “Be Positive” signs and try to protect the younger children by staying cheerful. I felt sorry for the family, but more and more uncomfortable with Kody’s determination to be the “leader” and make the decisions for the whole family. It is clear that if they can find a place to go, Christine will accept his decision– but what if she had decided to refuse? She has many children and no job (she is the “homemaker” and food-gatherer of the group,) so in a sense she has no choice but to go along with the decision.

What do you think, fans and foes of Sister Wives? It is perhaps true that there is little choice for the Browns but to move, but should Christine’s wish to stay and ride out the legal issue in Utah possibly not also valid? “It will tear our family apart,” she says. I am very interested in what the viewers, and our readers, have to say about the Browns. Are they being treated fairly? Are they being unfairly persecuted? Write in and let me know your thoughts!

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About Ladybelle Fiske

  • Hello friends, Please, let us not be cruel to one another. If there is one thing I can only imagine a loving God wanting, it is for us to be kind to one another in this world that can be so hard.
    I will be posting an article soon on the 1 hour special (awaiting editor to check it all out). I think of all of you and care about your thoughts and feelings. Compassion, it seems to me, is the thing we all need most?
    May we all forgive one another and be forgiven?

  • Tom,

    God told me he doesn’t like what you said (He said that he reserved judgement for himself.) and so he is going to let all the people you condemned go to heaven and make you go to hell. Have fun, Tom and try to keep a cool head. 😉

  • Tom

    What are these people thinking. These people aren’t excempt from God’s Laws. All you people who think that their right your idiots to. If they can do this can I go to a super Market and buy $2000.00 in grocerys and not pay for it.This guy has no brains. Stay out of California we dont want your whore ways. Soon you’ll have to move from Vegas. Your all filhy and going to HELL. God doesnt take what your doing lightly. READ THE WORD.

  • Tom

    This is against Gods law. The man thats married to all these women is going to HELL. and all the women are all going to HELL. Have fun burning and grinding your teeth you IDIOTS.

  • Hi Katly, Thanks for your thoughts… I tend to agree with you. I have not heard that they may cancel it, so you may know more than I do about this. Will look into it!

  • katly

    I believe they should live the way they want to live too. Nobody’s being abused and everyone is healthy so just leave them alone! As far as public assistance, he works and 2 wives were working until Meri got fired and I’m sure they get paid from TLC for making this show so I don’t see how they could. I love this show and hope it doesn’t get canceled.

  • Here is the link to my TV Open Thread article on last night’s finale, “Gambling on the Future.”

  • Thanks, KayLee and Jamie… I tend to agree.
    Please see my article on the finale, which is now up, and leave some comments if you feel like it!

  • KayLee

    Live and let live. This is a loving family who changed my mind about what the face of polygamy looks like. It’s not a life style I would personally choose, but neither is the Duggar’s lifestyle. When no one is being harmed, leave them alone!

  • Jamie

    I really think that we are in the year 2011. Let these poor people alone. If he has 4 wives so what he has 4 wives. If he was gay with 4 husbands than so be it. What I am trying to say who are we to judge. People now a days judge too much.

  • I agree with you that people should not beat up welfare mothers. They have a hard time. I was one once.

  • I’m sorry it took me so long. The episode seemed very intense to me, and hard to write about quickly! I should have an article up here later tonight or tomorrow, depending on when my editor can put it up.
    It is true that the trip seems to have been very hard on the family…

  • My new article on the finale should be up soon. Thanks!

  • Julie

    If Kody Brown’s belief in God were as strong as he says, he would remain in Utah, put his trust in God, and face the law, as everyone else has to. Instead, he drags his entire family from their home in the dark of night, in utter chaos. In my opinion, he’s a coward, who simply doesn’t want to face possible jail time and who uses freedom of religion as an excuse for his illegal flight across state lines. It will be interesting in the next few weeks to see what the charges are, if any. Utah rarely proscutes bigamists. I will be very, VERY surprised if the charges don’t have more to do with fraud and tax evasion than bigamy. Why is it people get hot under the collar about their tax dollars going to welfare mothers, and don’t see this as the smae thing, on a grander and more luxurious basis? THe sort of bigamy practiced by most early Mormons was both understandable,in their circumstances, and respectable. All of the “Sister Wives” on this show seem like terrific women. It’s the egotistical, post-adolescent “sperm donor” they chose to get involved with that’s brought them and their innocent children to grief.

  • Dear Friends, TLC has kindly sent me a clip from tonight’s finale, “Keep the Family Together!” — Sister Wives , 9/8 Central on TLC.
    Check out the video

    And here’s what they say the show’s about: With 3 flat tires and a run in with the Utah Highway Patrol, it takes the Browns 24 hours to go 200 miles. They are finally making the move that will change their lives forever.

    Tune in to an all-new SISTER WIVES this Sunday, May 22 at 9/8c, to watch one of the most powerful episodes of the season. Follow the Browns as they gamble on their future and begin the move to Las Vegas. With the move to only three days away, Kody tells the younger children they will be leaving their home in Utah forever. Despite some protest, the Browns begin to pack. But when the media gets hold of the news, plans turn into panic.

    Meet me here at TV Open Thread tonight about 10– I’ll post and we can chat as always.

  • So, the Book of Mormon says, polygamy is ok, and God says so? I have yet to read it, I’m afraid. But is this religion worse in some way than many others? Should we not be tolerant as long as the young ones are not forced to live the same way? The Browns claim, at least, that the children will be allowed to choose their own way of life (and some of the girls have said that they will not marry polygamously). It seems to me it may be no one else’s business what they do as long as the kids are well-treated, though they have made it the business of others in some sense by being the subject of a reality show, as they call these surely heavily edited shows. I wonder if the Browns don’t regret bitterly ever having gone for that 15 min. of fame (and money if there is any involved). Have any of you seen the movie Cinema Verité, about the first reality show with (believe it or not, the name of the family is really…) the Loud family.
    Thanks for all your comments…

  • Mrs.V

    They aren’t living by the Old Testament. They are living by the Book of Mormon. In the Old Testament when Abraham took on multiple wives, it was because his wife Sarah suggested it, not God.

  • I too am sometimes surprised by the relatively luxurious lifestyle they seem to lead (and feel they need). Yes, couldn’t some of the kids share bedrooms?
    I live a very funky existence in a Vermont mountain house, with an 11 year old car– so I see what you mean, Julie, and others who have commented on this.
    I look forward to your further comments next week (and sooner if you like)!

  • julie

    But what was that ridiculous nonsense about them needing at least 16 bedrooms; hence 4 houses. If they really are one big happy family, then why can’t two wives share one huge 5 bedroom house, and with so many of the kids still little, can’t they share rooms? I mean, these houses each have a living room, dining room and family room — they could remodel just a bit to give each wife her own living room, and share the dining and kitchen. Just sayin’… they may be pligs, but they just sound like spoiled suburban americans.

  • Shyla

    I have researched and read many stories about the polig lifestyle as it has always been intriguing to me…this is not a lifestyle I would choose and this is much different scenario than all the terrible truths you hear about young girls being marry off to dirty old pervert men. This family has changed my mind about letting polig families alone to live their lives. With the understanding that there is not the young girls being married off to old men. In this scenario the children seem to be more traumatized at the thought of their family being torn apart. They seem happy and like they are respectful and responsible kids. I say leave this family alone. It’s a tough call though…..the law doesn’t allow you to pick and choose who gets to breAk the law. I agree that he is legally married to Meri and not the others….how can they prosecute? Whew…I do not envy this family Nd the tough decisions. I am shocked they did this knowing full well their family could be tragically torn apart. I would love to know the financial means thy have to support their family and if there was any $ thrown their way for the show “sister wives”

  • carle

    Ok, then, how do they support 20 people? They have 2 homes, eat well, nice clothes, cars, entertainment and trips.

    As such, #1 is legally married, so she cannot collect benefits. #2 &#3 can get benefits per each kid as single unemployed moms –that adds up fast as they have 12 kids. #4 is divorced so she may get child support but now she is pregnant and will be eligivle for benefits as a single parent.

    Who pays for their health care and all the maternity and baby costs for #2, #3 and #4? Since they are not legally married, he cannot insure them all under his policy. Even as basic as it probably is, someone has to pay when they go to the doctor, dentist, etc.

    Only Mister Wonderful and #3 work, #2 stays home, #1 was fired from a part-time job for being polig — so who knows what she does all day, and #4 they don’t say. NONE of the kids work — but most likely not.

    When #1,#2,#3,#4 “wife” gets too fat or too old, he gets a new one, so he can continue to impregnate them and live off the taxpayers. This is how their “lifestyle” works. What’s really sad is when the girls reach their upper teens they will be “courted” by an older man and expected to marry and repeat the only “lifestyle” they know.

  • mary

    Obvious solution to the housing problem… Buy a motel…
    NO matter how you look at it, he is only legally married to his first wife.. He is having affairs with the other three, with his wives blessing..
    I think it is demeaning that these four women are willing to share one man.. They have shown their turmoil and their pain trying to deal with issues that wouldn’t come up if not for trying to live this way..
    If they were all ‘really’ liking it.. It wouldn’t seem bad..But why should any women suffer so much just to share one man? 🙁

  • lori

    I don’t see how their lifestyle is illegal. It is my understanding that Kody is only legally married to his first wife. The others were “spritual ceremonies”. There are men out there who have children with 3 or more “babies momma’s” and don’t take care of them let alone get involved in their lives. I personally would never be able to live this lifestyle it would be too hard to share a spouse with another woman. Also one last point, these women were well into their 20’s and 30’s when they entered into this unlike some polygamist situations where they are forcing 12, 13, 14 yr old girls to marry some 60 year old guy. Thoose are the people they should spend their time trying to prosecute ! I hope they move to LV and are able to get on with their lives.

  • Rachel

    Perhaps they should lease the Mustang Ranch. Plenty of bedrooms!

  • Thank you all for your insightful comments. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your thoughts and weighing them against things I’ve thought and read about this sort of polygamy.
    Carle, DO the Browns collect benefits from the state? How do we know that? It has never been quite clear to me how they manage financially, but I have no knowledge (or lack thereof) of their using welfare or food stamps. This would not be uncommon in situations such as this, but how do we know the Browns do it?
    Donna, you are correct, I know; they probably did not have any idea how much trouble they’d unleash upon themselves when they decided to “come out.” On the other hand, as a society, we’ve moved to the point where gay couples don’t have to live in the so-called “closet.” I wonder if we should not offer equal freedoms to other kinds of marital arrangements– being sure that the kids are protected, of course?
    Sadie, I like your welcoming comment. Nevada is clearly a more relaxed environment than Utah in many respects, so perhaps it will work out (I have two brothers-in-law who live there and seem to like Vegas). I understand the thoughts of those who feel that they are breaking the law and deserve what they get, but do the children deserve to be taken away from one another and their parents? Isn’t this, in some ways, a victimless crime? I wonder if it won’t end with the Utah prosecutors deciding not to bring charges, though I don’t have any information on this. They’d have to prosecute many such families, it seems…
    In any case, it is an interesting, if sad, snapshot of America in the early 21st century, at least in Utah and Colorado. I so appreciate all of you posting here, and hope to hear more from you next week, when the young Browns learn that they will have to move in three days (I’d probably have given them more time to get used to the idea).
    We will see how it all comes out. There are only 2 eps left. Join me next Sunday, same time and place (TV Open Thread on Blogcritics), and we’ll see how everyone is looking at the life of the Browns then.
    A question… would any of you ever consider letting a reality show be made about your life? WHY do people choose to do this? I find it quite baffling. Is money involved? Or is it done for that elusive 15 minutes of fame? Post your thoughts here and let me know! Thanks!

  • carle

    Their barbaric lifestyle is illegal, which does not make them wonderful. Only one wife is legal. Because the others are considered single moms, they collect state benefits as such (which is financed by taxpayers — all of us!)How else could they support all these people? If they do not want to live by the US laws, they can go to Iran or Iraq or another country, where it is common to have more than one wife.

  • Donna C

    This is about choices and responsibilities. I was brought up that I have freedom of choice but with choice there are responsibilities. This is what is happening here. They made a TV series about thier lifestyle and now have the responsibilites of their choice. My heart goes out to the children; but the adults knew what they were doing and what might happen.

  • mary jones

    Their breaking the law of the land outside of Utah and feeling the natural consecquences. The majority of the population don’t live by the Old Testement.



  • Sadie

    The children are well taken care of. Isn’t that most important? They are not harming anyone. Its not my choice for a life style but that does not make it wrong for them. People with smaller, 2 parent families don’t do a better then these people so why not just leave them alone to live their life the way they want to… again, the children are well taken care. They are a happy family, probably happier then most these days. I live in Las Vegas and would be happy to run into them at the store, or welcome them to our neighborhood… we have a few houses in forclosure in our neighborhood, and we would welcome them here, its just most houses here are 2 bedroom/bath, tho there are a few 4 bedroom ones. They would be great on the neighborhood watch ! I know I’d feel safer with them around instead of having the vandals break in and take over the vacant house’s we currantly have in this neighborhood. Come on over Brown Family! 🙂