Monday, November 21, 2011

The Sister Wives exodus: a very costly publicity stunt

An obsession's an obsession, am I right? Remember the Dead Munchkin Hypothesis that lasted, I think, five posts? I promise this one won't run as long (though it keeps coming back for more).

I stumbled upon an article that opened my eyes, wide, about the reality show Sister Wives: you know, the one I keep blathering on about. Their much-publicized flight from Utah to avoid criminal prosecution for their "lifestyle" turns out to be more hype than reality.

I don't know what came first: their exodus from Eden to the Promised Land, or this report which claims they were never really under threat of prosecution in the first place.

"In new legal papers in their court case, the Browns are requesting that the law they’re being prosecuted under be dismissed. That probably won’t happen, but they probably won’t get prosecuted at all either. The prosecutors have mentioned that they are trying to get the case dismissed, since all of the wives have entered into it by their own free will and there isn’t any incest, underage marriage or tax or welfare fraud. So Kody uprooted everyone, took his kids out of their school, giving them three days notice (and telling them not to tell their friends goodbye), and hightailed it to Vegas, all based on his own paranoia. He could have just stayed put and ridden it out. At least he created a great new plot line for his reality show, right?"

I couldn't have said it better myself. But is Kody Brown man enough to admit he made a huge, damaging mistake? What would happen if the family decided to return to  their megahouse in Utah? Nothing, probably, by the looks of it. But pride has a way of keeping people nailed in place.

At this point, it looks like nobody's happy with the move. The teenagers are so bitter and angry that I wonder if one of them isn't going to just plain bolt. You can't casually uproot a kid from this kind of exotic background: he won't find new friends readily, if at all. If the stigma of polygamy doesn't get him, the stigma of having a jackass father who flaunts his screwups on national TV will.

Like some bizarre latter-day (!) Brigham Young trailing a host of obedient wives and children, Kody has made all the decisions here, though as usual the wives pretend to be independent agents. The family seems to be on the verge of cracking apart. Polygamy for the most part must happen under glass: it's a bizarre way of life that makes most people profoundly uneasy. Outside the protective bubble, the spotlight can be pretty glaring.

Divorce won't happen, marital breakdown won't happen, but mental health breakdown is already taking place, and will only escalate. For all his patriarchal posturing, Kody Brown is about fifteen years old emotionally. He acts impulsively, not thinking how his dashing off to "my Plymouth Rock" (his grotesque name for Las Vegas) will affect the large circle of women and children whose security depends on him. Narcissism has a steep cost: but never to the narcissist, who inevitably hands off the damage to the vulnerable souls in his orbit.

Peanut Butter Fritos: the Sister Wives Diet

Janelle's Peanut Butter Fritos

Janelle's Peanut Butter Fritos Photo
Janelle's Peanut Butter Fritos
1cup corn syrup, like Karo Syrup
1cup white sugar
1cup peanut butter
1large bag Fritos scoops
  1. Spread fritos out on a big jelly roll pan turning them so most of the scoop sides are up.
  2. In a sauce pan combine corn syrup and sugar and stir gently.
  3. Cook only until little bubbles begin to form. Do not cook too long or it will get too hard when it cools.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in peanut butter until it melts. Pour over chips on pan. Good to eat immediately. Sometimes we melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the top.

Meri's Soda Cracker Surprise Toffee

Meri's Soda Cracker Surprise Toffee Photo
Meri's Soda Cracker Surprise Toffee
saltine crackers
1cup butter
1cup sugar
1package chocolate chips
1cup finely chopped walnuts
  1. Line jelly roll pan with foil and spray with pan spray. Place saltine crackers close together covering entire pan.
  2. Bring butter and sugar to boil for 2-1/2 minutes, pour over crackers.
  3. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Pour chocolate chips on top, spreading as they melt. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Meri's Caramel Corn

Meri's Caramel Corn Photo
Meri's Caramel Corn

1cube butter
1pound brown sugar (2 3/8 cup)
1cup white corn syrup INGREDIENT NOTE"
1Eagle® brand condensed milk
1teaspoon vanilla
3gallons popped corn
  1. Cook butter, brown sugar and white corn syrup in a double boiler. Test periodically by dropping a small amount of batter into cold water. If batter can be formed into a firm ball in the cold water, it is finished cooking.
  2. Add condensed milk and vanilla. Boil and pour over popped corn.

Ohhhhhh. . . kay. We might just be on to something here, the secret key as to why the four wives (oh, three: one of them is pregnant and usually thin anyway) have been having a teensy bit of trouble losing weight on Sister Wives.

Don't tell me I'm obsessed with Sister Wives, because I already know. I watch them as you'd watch a train wreck staged for public amusement. Most of you will know that this is a "reality" show which follows the adventures and peccadilloes of a fundamentalist Mormon family in a "plural" (polygamous) marriage. They have about a zillion kids and lots of money from unknown sources, which is why they could afford a massive house in Utah before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

The patriarch, a sort of middle-aged Beach Boy named Kody, is the only rooster in a henhouse initially made up of three wives: but soft! Do I see a fourth wife on the horizon, a much younger, much thinner wife, a rather submissive wife who cries at the drop of a hat?

A soon-to-be-pregnant wife?

Hurricane Robyn was nothing to what happened next. In one of many "duh" moments, the family was astounded to learn that authorities were doing an "investigation" of the family on the grounds that they were breaking the law. Then, oh boy, it was getting-out-of-Dodge time.

Though it seems to me highly unlikely that Kody would have been thrown in jail for something that is widely practiced in Utah (he was more likely being punished and held up for ridicule for appearing on television), he dragged his family out of their relative security and stability all the way to Las Vegas, which seems like the worst possible choice for so-called devout Mormons who won't even let their daughters wear tank tops to school.

The big thing now - there's always a big thing - is that the clan needs a source of income to pay for all the furniture-buying jags they're going on. On one episode they said they were going into real estate, but that rather vague plan seems to have been dropped in favour of something way more hip: opening their own gym.

The gals have been making an attempt to lose weight and get in shape. Though the cameras played this down at first, it's obvious all of them except Robyn are seriously obese, well over 200 pounds.
Janelle easily qualifies as morbidly obese.

It's funny to watch them working out with a hunky male trainer for two months, then getting on the scale and being puzzled to see that they've only lost 2 or 3 pounds. When I looked up the Sister Wives recipe book, the mystery was revealed. Though the examples posted here are, I guess, meant for 20 people, a pound of sugar in a single recipe seems extreme. Even main dishes are heavily based on refined carbohydrates, with not much mention of fruits or vegetables. I didn't have space enough for the Mock Tapioca (and surely tapioca itself is "mock" enough), made mostly of Cream of Wheat. I've always thought of that as a post-op food, sort of like the lime jello they give you the day after surgery.

It amazes me that five adults responsible for a huge gaggle of kids can be so irresonsible as to think they can support themselves with this kind of venture. It just doesn't make sense. All the wives seem stressed, with Christine, the supposedly level-headed one, "confessing" that she had been on antidepressants, hastily adding that she was "half off them", to be warmly applauded by Janelle (and do not get me started on "friends" encouraging you to go off your medication! Only your doctor knows for sure.)

Meri is cracking up, obviously, and headed for something pretty dire. Janelle hides behind obesity and blandness, her eyes disturbingly blank. Robyn, well. . .Robyn has already had her baby in "real time", little Solomon Brown (a worse name even than Truely, the name of that bald-headed baby who still looks like a space alien after 18 months).

The more the Meri-er, I suppose, until the money runs out.  But with TLC footing the bill, maybe that won't happen. So Solomon may have a little brother or sister by-and-by, springing from Kody's hyperactive Latter-Day loins.