TLC builds on the success of its popular, yet controversial show Sister Wives, with a new offering that examines the pluralistic lifestyle. My Five Wives, premieres Sunday, March 9 on TLC and follows Brady Williams, his five wives, their 24 children, and their life on a family property in Utah. TLC has ordered 9 episodes of My Five Wives, and it will take at least this long to learn the names of all of the family members. They are an interesting and intriguing bunch, and each of the wives is markedly unique. The kids, however, seem to move around in a huge, skateboarding blur.
Brady married his first wife Paulie 21 years ago and they have six children. Nine months later, Brady married Robyn, wife two, and they have five children together. Rosemary, wife number three, and Brady have been married for 19 years and they have four children. Nonie, the fourth wife, has been married for 16 years and has five children with Brady, and fifth wife Rhonda has four children with Brady over the course of their 14 year marriage. Each wife and her children has separate living space, but duties such as cooking dinner for the family of 30 is shared on a rotating basis. Also rotating is Brady’s sleeping schedule; he spends each night in a different household, with a different family, and a different wife. “There’s no ‘more than one wife in the bed’ at one time,” Brady is quick to point out. “Except that one time in Vegas,” rebuts Rhonda (wife #5) to a peal of laughter.
Brady’s schedule is a busy one. He works as a project manager at his brother’s construction business while earning his college degree in philosophy. He tries to spend time each day with each of his children, and his morning ritual of visiting each of his five families before heading to work is visually exhausting!
One of the differences between My Five Wives and Sister Wives is that the Williams family is relatively progressive. Their style of dress, mannerisms and beliefs are a little more lax. Explains wife #3, Rosemary: “I think the biggest thing that everyone would be surprised about me is that I’m a Polygamist. Everyone expects me to be wearing a prairie dress and have a bun in my hair, or a braid, and to not have a personality.” The Williams’ are also independent pluralists, having recently separated themselves from the fundamentalist Mormon Church. Also, the Williams family allows TLC’s cameras into the marital bedrooms, but don’t expect to see any romantic trysts, the only intimacies viewers will be privy to are private conversations.
Episode 1 introduces the Williams family, its members and household living arrangements, and what I will call “Brady bonehead move #1.” Brady wants his wives to have a way to work out their differences without involving him, so he institutes “Safe Talks,” where the wives can speak openly and honestly with each other. Brady’s heart is in the right place, and he tells his wives, “It’s not ‘multiple monogamy.’ We’re living a plural marriage well, but I want to live it in a grand way and the next step for us is to have a safe space where you can be real with each other.”
Uh oh, Brady, this seems like a bad idea. Asking five women to stop being polite and start being real is a recipe for disaster. Have you never watched MTV’s The Real World? Well, the “Safe Talk” experiment fails miserably, and after a lone “Safe Talk” leads to several rounds of crying and hurt feelings, Brady scraps the idea. Note to Brady: If your solution to a problem needs air-quotes, you are putting too much hope on the solution to a problem that you created. On the plus side, the buckets of tears shed by wife #4 Nonie, make for great TV.
My Five Wives is perfect for viewers who find that the four wives on TLC’s Sister Wives are not enough wives for their viewing tastes. The Williams family is entertaining though, and the show’s opening is so utterly cringe-worthy that I hope the show is a smash success so it can be parodied on Saturday Night Live.