After weeks of waiting, I finally got to watch the premiere of Sister Wives last night. My first thought when I watched it was “AWKWARD.” Most Reality TV Stars seem to forget after a while that they are on television. The stars of Sister Wives, however, seemed to be cognizant that they were presenting themselves and their lifestyle on TV. As a result, we got a lot of bad jokes about children being “sistas from the same mister” and “brothas from a different motha” as well as a lot of awful banter how about how much they all loved each other and hoped that he was having sex with every one of them.
What I found most problematic about the show, however, was the way that the media and even the characters of the show have treated Kody’s three current wives. At the end of the show, the polygamous father of the group announces that he is planning to marry a fourth wife. One of the women announces that she is happy for her husband because he deserves a “cute girl.” Another replies awkwardly that he already has a cute girl – her.
The media attention around Sister Wives has focused on Kody’s decision to marry a fourth wife. The Huffington Post pointed out that the first three wives are all “blonde” and “round” and worried how they really felt about their husband’s decision to marry a skinny brunette. The Houston Chronicle pointed out that Kody’s taste seems to have changed since he married his first three wives.
Although I too was drawn into the idea of adding a fourth wife into an already burgeoning family, I found myself wondering how the attention will affect the wives already in the marriage. Many Christians criticize polygamy for devaluing women and turning them into nothing more than sex objects. Yet, that is exactly what the media attention surrounding Sister Wives has done. The show itself, and apparently, the family who is featured, tries to focus on each of the women as an autonomous human being. Yet, much of the media attention has focused on the way that women look and the impending addition of a fourth. The Huffington Post is much more to blame here than the Houston Chronicle. It seems to be the outside world rather than Kody himself that has reduced the women to sex.
I wonder how Kody’s three current wives feel about the media’s designation of them as less attractive women.