“Polygamy USA” on National Geographic Channel follows a community of Fundamentalist Mormons in Centennial Park, Arizona.
Premiering Tuesday, May 7, at 9pm ET/PT on National Geographic Channel, Polygamy, USA goes inside the daily lives of a Fundamentalist Mormon community in Arizona, in which plural marriages are widely practiced as a religious tradition. The series focuses on the lives of three men in the community and their families:
Arthur Hammon One of the founding fathers of Centennial Park. He helped build the town 30 years ago after he and others separated with a nearby community over a religious dispute. Arthur now heads up the Centennial Park missionary program. Arthur struggles with his son Ezra’s desire to make his own way.
Hyrum Burton Served as a missionary for nearly four years, and is waiting for God to bring him a wife. He organizes athletic competitions and participates in community social events, waiting to see if his interactions with young women in the community will lead one of them to select him for a husband.
Isaiah Thomson A sixth-generation polygamist with two young wives and five young children. They plan on expanding the family with more children and possibly the addition of a third wife.
Michael Cawley Has three wives and 18 children. His eldest daughter, Rose Marie, has reached the age where she can be married, but has not received her sign from God.
Summaries of the first three episodes from National Geographic Channel’s press release:
Polygamy, USA: Meet the Polygamists
Tuesday, May 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
What does it mean to be a practicing polygamist in America today? Nearly 30 years ago, a group of polygamists formed their own community in Arizona called Centennial Park. Among the town’s nearly 1500 residents are people at different points in their religious journey, starting with young unmarried men in the town’s mission program. Isaiah is in his thirties with two wives and five young children, struggling to keep his young family afloat financially while also looking forward to the possibility of another wife. Forty-four-year-old Michael Cawley has three wives and 18 children, the oldest of whom is preparing herself for her own plural family. Finally, Ezra, son of the leader of the mission program, has chosen independence over the strict teachings of his family. As the years go by, the survival of Centennial Park rests in the passing of traditions from one generation to the next.
Polygamy, USA: The Winter Ball
Tuesday, May 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Living in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Centennial Park, young men and women do not have many opportunities to socialize together. That changes when the town holds its New Year’s Eve celebration. Arthur puts his missionary boys to work decorating the hall and cutting down the trees that will be the centerpiece of the celebration. When the hard work is done, the boys, including Hyrum, put on their best airs for the single women in the community. The oldest Cawley daughter, Rose Marie, is nervous to attend the ball. She’s been waiting to receive her inspiration from God about whom she should marry, and the ball provides another opportunity — if she can get over her shyness. While the rest of the community prepares for the ball, the Thomson home is preparing for the return of the husband, Isaiah, who has been away working for five weeks. It’s Becca’s turn to pick him up in Las Vegas and spend a night away from home while Marleen stays home with the family’s five kids. It’s another challenge for the young women who must balance feelings of jealousy, duty and faith.
Polygamy, USA: The Baptism
Tuesday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
In the polygamous community of Centennial Park everything is about growth — children, families, even the town itself. But, with growth, comes plenty of growing pains. The Cawley household is preparing 8-year-old Fiona for baptism, a major crossroads in her spiritual journey and one that has never before been filmed. As part of their family tradition, she will be baptized after demonstrating a thorough understanding of the tenets of their Mormon faith. Arthur accompanies his son, Ezra, to Salt Lake City to recover the broken-down truck Ezra purchased against his father’s wishes. It’s a tense road trip as both attempt to navigate the rift that has grown between them. One of Arthur’s missionaries, Hyrum, shows off his leadership skills by organizing a basketball tournament. He hopes it will serve two purposes: showing the town’s Brethren that he’s ready to lead a family, and possibly impressing some young women.
Photo: Credit: National Geographic Channel