On TLC’s Sister Wives, the Brown family appears to be a happy, functioning example of polygamy — but our expert explains the real dangers of a polygamous lifestyle!
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know a ton about polygamy; you might even think it’s legal in some states. After watching the Sept. 26 season premiere of TLC’s new reality show, Sister Wives, I was shocked to see four happy women living under one roof, sharing one man [Kody Brown], with seemingly little problems. Wondering if this wasn’t the most accurate representation of life in a polygamist family, I decided to do some digging.
I tracked down former polygamist John Llewellyn, 77, who currently resides in Utah. Once a Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Lieutenant who primarily investigated polygamist cults, John actually adopted the lifestyle and practiced polygamy for 25 years.
“In 1994 all of my wives left me except for one,” John reveals. “I’m now married monogamously and I can tell you life is a lot more smooth. It’s not easy being married to more than one woman, especially if they’ve got any spunk or spirit to them. You’re constantly having to reassure them that they are loved.”
TLC’s Sister Wives — a seven part series which follows the lives of Kody Brown’s wives Meri 39, Janielle, 40, Christine, 37, and Robyn, 31 — sends the message that polygamy has no downfalls. John Llewellyn disagrees.
“It’s a hard life to live, I’d say you’re better off having a mistress than plural wives,” John says. “There isn’t a plural family that didn’t have a lot of internal domestic problems; jealousy is a huge factor. It’s all about power, money, sex and ego. A man wouldn’t be normal if his ego wasn’t inflated by having multiple wives. A lot of polygamist men are narcissists and that’s what appears to be Kody’s motivation.”
Many polygamy advocates claim the lifestyle is harmless because the women involved are essentially willing mistresses — but the US Supreme Court states polygamy is illegal in all states and has been since 1878. Fortunately for Kody, the state of Utah rarely prosecutes polygamists unless there is proof of active child endangerment or abuse, but they are investigating the Brown family.
“Historically there have been two cases where polygamists were convicted in the past 10 years,” John says. “The law kind of looks at the women as victims and they haven’t been prosecuted … but they could be.”
New York family attorney Vikki Ziegler agrees with John in regards to Utah’s lack of motivation to prosecute these families.
“Polygamy is rarely prosecuted unless children are being harmed, but clearly polygamy is a crime and it’s being exploited,” Vikki argues. “It’s a risky move for TLC to air this show knowing he is committing a crime, because the US Supreme court sees it as a crime.”
The Brown family released a statement, defending their decision to put their life on display, despite its illegality.
“We are disappointed in the announcement of an investigation,” the Brown family said. “But when we decided to do this show, we knew there would be risks. But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”
Once again, John Llewellyn disagrees.
“It’s a bad idea for Cody to subject his family to all of this pressure and notoriety,” he says. “Most polygamists frown upon what he is doing … the thoughts of people in Utah are mixed. He needs to know this will be the toughest on his children.”