With programming like Jon & Kate Plus 8 and 19 Kids & Counting, TLC has already cultivated a niche portraying particularly large families. Its latest reality show, Sister Wives, takes things a step further, delving into the day-to-day dynamics of a family of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists. Do Kody Brown, his three wives, and 13 children offer us legitimate justification for "rethinking" traditional marriage, as TLC claims, or is the network prettifying something that ought to disturb us?
Their happiness isn't totally convincing: "Kody and his wives spend a lot of time talking about how well their family functions," says Katy Hall at The Huffington Post. Although viewers are asked to reconsider their ideas about marriage, the sister wives often seem to "have trouble selling their lifestyle even to themselves."
"'Sister Wives': TLC's polygamist family asks us to 'rethink marriage'"
The husband is the problem: "It's easy to empathize with these women," says Roxana Hadadi at Express Night Out. Kody is a different matter. It is deeply "unsettling" to see him treating his "wives more like business associates than romantic partners, chastely kissing them on the forehead and busying them with housework."
"Really big love:'Sister Wives,' series premiere"
Remember, these people are extremists: "It's interesting how, in a time of growing Islamophobia, this religious fundamentalism is fun prime-time entertainment," says Dodai Stewart at Jezebel. But as you become familiar with these "smiley, American, white people," don't lose sight of the fact that their repugnant belief system is deeply "belittling and oppressive" to women.
"'Sister Wives' talk like soul-sucking Stepford zombies"