This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
At first glance, TLC's new megafamily reality-TV show, "Sister Wives," is like any other voyeuristic peek at a gigantic suburban brood.
But where "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" or "19 and Counting" are about the trials of multiple kids, "Sister Wives" is about the logistics of having multiple wives, in this case four. And we're not talking about the endless sex.
"Sister Wives" is about a wholesome polygamist family in Utah. And like any other reality series of its type, it will rise or fall on whether you are charmed by this family.
Thankfully, that's exactly how the Browns come across. They're an amiable, cute (perhaps even too adorable) husband and wives who are light years more likable than Jon and Kate Gosselin ever were.
The Browns who include three wives with a fourth being courted are a nice, even-tempered unit who have taken their complicated life in stride. Even when jealousy among the sister wives creeps into the marriage, the emotions are kept in check.
The Browns belong to a fundamentalist Mormon religion outside Salt Lake County who are not the stereotype of a rural polygamist family. They don't live in a dusty farmhouse, and the wives don't have braided hair and sport ankle-length floral dresses.
Instead, they own a large suburban home, drive a Lexus and blurt out "awesome" like your average starter household. They just have more mothers and 13 kids.
In the pilot, which premieres Sunday at 11 on TLC, we're introduced to the Browns. Kody is an advertising salesman, and he's married to Meri, Janelle and Christine, who is pregnant with their 13th child.
They've been married collectively for 16 years (Kody's been married to Meri, his first wife, for nearly 20 years) and they all live in the same home that's been modified to have three living rooms and three kitchens.
The drama in the family is minimal despite the complicated marriage. And while that's good for the Browns, it's bad for the show. In the premiere, the most dramatic turn is when two kids each lose a tooth in the same 24 hours and Christine burns the toast.
It gets more interesting in the next two 30-minute episodes when Kody reveals to the kids he's been courting a fourth possible wife, Robyn, a divorced mother of three.
Likely, this is the kind of portrait of polygamy that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hates. It's a vision of plural marriage (which is illegal) that seemingly works in some cases and a reminder of a past the church wants to bury.
Yet if there is a reason to watch "Sister Wives," it's less for the drama in the household than for the charm and likability of the Brown family.
This doesn't seem to be a group embroiled in the darker side of polygamy the child abuse, the forced marriages or a dictatorial husband that we've read about in places like Hildale and Colorado City.
"Sister Wives" wants to convey that this taboo practice can enhance a family's love in some cases, not denigrate it. It's a friendly, sometimes spirited reality TV show about an average Utah family.
It just involves a husband who has to remember a lot more anniversaries.
P TLC's "Sister Wives" premieres tonight at 11.