Can TLC Make Polygamy Seem Normal?

The polygamous family on the new TLC reality show aims to change people's perspectives about marriages with more than one wife

Why would the members of a polygamous family allow their lives to be filmed for TV? In this country, it's not just illegal for a man to marry more than one woman; it's also widely thought of as, well, creepy. But that hasn't stopped Kody Brown and his four wives from opening their home to cameras on TLC's Sister Wives -- a new, documentary-style series that premieres on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.

Their reasoning? "I'm not trying to sell it to the world," Kody told Today's Meredith Viera. "It's just, when you're in a closed society, you feel kind of, um..."

"Oppressed," interrupted Robin (wife #4).

"Oppressed. Exactly," said Kody. "Yeah, and we're trying..."

"It's dangerous," interrupted Janelle (wife #2). "And we're hoping we can create more transparency for those in our faith, because there is a lot of fear in our [polygamous] culture about the government…So we're hoping we can open this up."

"There's a lot of bad media about polygamy and this way of life," added Robin. "And we're hoping to open that up and say, 'Hey, that's not us. That's not our family.'"

So there you have it. The Browns are putting a better face on their lifestyle, in hopes of "opening up" this closed society of ours. Problem is, watching a few episodes of this show leaves you feeling… still creepy.

Kody and his wives, Meri (#1), Janelle (#2) and Christina (#3), live together in one home (split into three apartments) with 13 children among them. In the first few episodes, Kody is "courting" Robin (#4). When she and her offspring from her first marriage join the family, the kid total will rise to 16.

The wives praise the utilitarian benefits of such an arrangement. Having only a fraction of your husband's time means having more time for yourself. And having sister wives to help out with the housework, parenting and bill-paying translates into a lighter load for everyone.

Janelle (#2) says she prefers working outside the home to domestic chores, like driving her kids around. She's glad to have Christina (#3) to do that sort of thing for her. And Meri (#1) tearfully explains how glad she is to have Janelle (#2) and Christina (#3) around to raise her daughter, should anything ever happen to her.

But watching Kody kiss one wife good night in order to head to bed with another is unsettling. When he and Christina (#3) joke about him needing three sets of clothes, because he keeps leaving items in another wife's bedroom, it's not really "funny-ha-ha." It's more like "funny-ewww."

In the first episode, Kody explains that during the day, he works in advertising, and he spends three nights a week having one-on-one dates with each wife. By my calculations, that leaves hardly any time left for his 13 children. Adding a fourth wife and three more children is only going to stretch him thinner. The kids mostly see him at the big family dinners or group activities; he must seem more like a soccer coach than a dad.

It's understandable that the Brown family wants to put a fresh and happy face on the modern polygamous family. But my take on this "lifestyle choice" is basically the same. Still creepy.

Do you think Sister Wives will change people's perception of polygamy? Chime in below!

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