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Paula Bolyard

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January 14, 2013 - 9:00 am
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“Love should be multiplied, not divided.” — Sister Wives star Kody Brown

Polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives, featured on TLC’s reality show Sister Wives, challenges the show’s audience with that “prove me wrong” statement at the beginning of every episode. Now in its third season, Sister Wives follows the lives of Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine, all of whom he married in the early 1990s. The most recent addition, Robyn — younger, thinner, prettier — married into the family last season. The household also includes a total of 17 children (three of them Robyn’s from a previous marriage). The only legal marriage is between Kody and Meri.

Like most reality shows, there’s an element of train-wreck entertainment as we watch the daily lives of the “cast,” and like most reality shows, we can be certain that the editors and producers play a strong role in shaping the show’s narrative. In much of the first season, they portray the family as happy and loving — your average family next door — until they introduce the fourth wife, Robyn, and she and Kody begin courting. Jealousy between the wives begins to surface and escalates as Robyn and Kody eventually marry. There are serious cracks,  especially in the relationship between Christine and Kody now that she has been replaced as the the newest wife:

I have a lot of expectations and not a lot of appreciation, to be honest. And so, he’s walking into a hostile environment sometimes now. And we’re just at a point where we’re struggling to find ourselves. I don’t know if I care if it’s perfect anymore or if it’s what he wants anymore. It’s just so much work. And I know there’s a big payoff and I know for years and years we had a great marriage and a great thing. I just don’t know what I want anymore.

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