For some reason I hadn't heard about it in advance, but managed last night to catch a new show on TLC called "Forbidden Love: Polygamy." The host, Dawn Porter, traveled to Arizona to spend time with two different polygamist families. The show was filmed during the raid on the FLDS compound earlier this year, so maybe not the best time to do a TV exposee on this lifestyle, but actually after meeting with some women in the first community, they did allow her in.
The community where the first family lived was a whole town of polygamists, so the kids growing up were surrounded by this environment. The 14 year-old son (they said he was oldest, and in charge while his father was away, but there were also grandchildren in the family, so he was probably just the oldest still living at home) said he wanted as many wives as he could get, and when asked if he had his eye on any of the girls at school, he said, "All of them!" This family had three wives, and 16 kids currently in the house - the woman Dawn spent most of her time with had given birth to eight. In an interview with the first wife, we learned that she'd been married to her husband for 17 years before he brought in number two. How much would that have sucked?! Apparently, it wasn't until she got sick and recovered a couple years ago that she suddenly no longer felt any animocity toward the other wives. She said knowing what she knew now, she'd like to join a family as the fifth wife - by that time, all the struggle is over and systems to run the household are set up. The husband in this family was actually out of town while the show was filmed, and I wonder if this was because he didn't want to be on the show, or because the women were trying to keep it a secret from him? (Or maybe just bad timing.)
Dawn spent a day with another family, who lived in a double-wide trailer in the middle of nowhere, she said with no water or electricity. There were two wives, and I think six children? The oldest daughter was 14, seemed relatively normal, and said she wasn't sure whether she'd like a polygamist marriage or not. The two wives were young and attractive-looking, and the girls were all wearing pants! However, husband Moroni (yes, his name sounds very close to "moron," but he says it's an old family name) admits that there was jealousy between his wives at first. He also says he's looking to add a third..! But he's apparently been turned down more than once, needing his other wives to console him. (Hmm, maybe they found out what the living arrangement was going to be.) After spending a night at this home, Dawn says her goodbyes and gets into a waiting truck with her camera crew. She seems really shaken/upset, and kept saying what an experience it was staying there. Well, I think there were some things about this situation that didn't make it into the show, but they are mentioned in this blog entry, written by the host. (She also mentions how she picked up her colorful, vintage wardrobe for the show.)
At the end of the show, Dawn still seemed unable to wrap her head around why anyone would choose to live this lifestyle, but she had exposed some positive aspects, such as the community atmosphere, and oh did you know that you'll become a goddess? Yeah, that was news to me, especially considering Mormons are christian (and therefore, like, don't believe in multiple gods and goddesses)... Another Mormon-related question I had: LDS weddings involve "sealing" the bride and groom together for eternity, and this can only be done in a special room of the temple you can only enter if you've done certain Mormon things, which is why non-Mormon family members can't watch their Mormon kids get married, bla bla bla. Anyway, since polygamy was offically outlawed by the church in 1890, does the second wife and beyond get to be sealed to the family too? Maybe they have their own polygamist temple that will allow this?
After doing some research, it looks like this was just one of a four-part series originally called "Dawn Porter: Extreme Wife." Next week TLC will air "Forbidden Love: Geisha," and there are two other programs in this series, on mail-order brides and a German free-love commune, which will air next year in the US but not on TLC.