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Adele Elliott: 'Sister Wives'


Adele Elliott



I spent the greater part of last weekend watching re-runs of the entire season of "Sister Wives." You are probably thinking, "Well, why didn''t you watch when the show first aired?" For some reason my DVR did not record it. Probably because it was busy recording something equally intellectual, like "Bridezillas." 


For the uninformed, "Sister Wives" is about a real family in a "plural marriage" (their term). One husband has four wives, 13 biological offspring and three stepchildren. They are, of course, Mormon. 


Polygamy is not legal in this country. So, technically, the patriarch is actually married to only one wife (the first one). However, for some reason this lifestyle is still considered against the law. This is only one of many confusing things about the show. 


The wives give a lot of lip service to their issues with jealousy. But they are never shown angry at each other, or arguing. They seem quite fond of each other. 


Another curious matter is how they support so many folks. The topic of jobs or work seldom comes up. Yet, most of the family lives together (and apparently quite well) in a huge house. The latest wife and children have a separate home, nearby. I suppose having a successful reality show contributes greatly to the family income. 


I just can''t help but think how very far Utah is from Mississippi. Oh, I don''t mean geographically. Philosophically, it is another planet. Can you imagine a Southern belle sharing her husband with multiple wives? God forbid! 


I don''t want to imply that we are high maintenance. But, really, does he buy jewelry of equal value for each one? Do they get anniversary trips to places of equal distance? 


In one episode the husband is courting wife No. 4 while wife No. 3 is giving birth to her sixth child. Southern women have shotguns, and know how to use them. 


Kody, the husband, is charming and boyish. (He looks suspiciously like a local purveyor of wines and spirits. But, that''s a story for another day.) No doubt he has the best of the deal. While he is surfing at a California beach with new wife Robyn, the others are minding all the children, including Robyn''s. Hers, but not his. Lost track yet? 


I know this is a religious choice. But, they never make clear the rationale. I would like to know why the men can have a harem, but the women cannot. Southern women demand an explanation. 


The children seem thrilled to welcome their fourth "mother." Nevertheless, they are an annoying and rowdy bunch of kids. You would think that with four "mothers" they would be better behaved. 


Here, one mother is enough to control the most boisterous brood. All it takes is a certain look, or a slight change in tone of voice to calm a Southern child, (even if that "child" is old enough to vote). 


One thing strange about the sister-wives is just how ordinary they are. Unlike some Mormon sects we have seen, there are no "Little-House-On-The-Prairie" dresses, no over-teased hair, towering 6 inches above the scalp. These wives appear to wear makeup, on television, anyway. (They are still not as pretty as Southern women.) 


I doubt that anyone in Mississippi will ever grasp the concept of husband-sharing. Here, we understand that one Southern woman is a handful. Who could handle multiples? It would make more sense to have one wife and "plural" husbands. Women are better at multitasking. 


Utah may be another planet, but Mississippi is a world unto itself. Even a spaceship may not be able to span that distance.


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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