Letter to Cancel “Sister Wives”



July 25, 2022

Dear Discovery Channel Executives,

We are a public website wishing to remain anonymous.  Ours is an open letter to petition for the cancellation of the new season of TLC “Sister Wives.”  We hope you agree that it is time to expect more from producers and the media industry concerning the treatment of women and children.

Discovery Channel’s Modern Slavery Statement, including policies and risk mitigation, is not being met by TLC polygamy shows.

The “Sister Wives” style of polygamy represents a patriarchal system in which men are considered superior and allowed multiple wives. It is modern-day slavery that has rolled forward through millenniums as a continued problem women face. The coercive nature of this type of polygamy occurs in highly patriarchal societies where polygyny is common: Arranged marriages, child brides, female mutilation, trafficking, bartering girls, and exploiting minors and adults in the family or community business are everyday occurrences. 

It is time to move forward.

Unlike other countries that have legalized polygamy, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the criminalization of polygamy. Yet, for over a decade, TLC producers and Brown adults have financially profited from the crime of polygamy to normalize and decriminalize it. As a result, to a large degree, TLC and Brown adults achieved what they set out to do; polygamy was decriminalized in Utah in 2020.  

Despite its pretentious liberal element, TLC “Sister Wives” is nothing of the sort. It is a one-sided system designed for the husband to have full control over multiple family units. While polygyny discriminates against women, children are often the most significant casualty. 

As time has passed, TLC “Sister Wives” has shown how dispensable wives and children are in polygamy when a new wife comes into the family. Viewers watched the sexist double standard when family members shunned a neglected first wife for seeking out intimacy, while the polygamist is allowed a different woman every night. Unfortunately, TLC and Kody Brown have managed to create sensationalism and hyperbole to create short-term illusions that polygamy and polygamists are the victims of “persecution” while brazenly persecuting women. 

TLC has neglected to include details showing or explaining polygamy recruitment and why women stay. Behind closed-door scenes are never shown, which would expose how “trauma-bonding” works and the disparity between broken hearts and favoritism. Instead, TLC and Brown adults have manufactured scenes as realities by downplaying or hiding polygamy abuses and not representing the majority of polygamists living in poverty and/or being funded by the government. It certainly does not depict the polygamy trade that goes on in polygamous communities where women and children are passed around and treated like chattel. In addition, men and boys are often exploited by working or giving their earnings to a polygamous leader.

There has been no risk mitigation – no disclaimers, no shame. 

Instead, TLC producers have been instrumental in influencing the production of other polygamy reality shows. Since “Sister Wives” first aired, match-making polygyny websites have crept into existence, and husbands are encouraging their first wife to bring home a “sister-wife” for companionship and/or to help with household chores and children. (Of course, they make it seem like the first wife’s idea, and maybe it is.)  TLC is guilty of misrepresenting the realities of polygyny and merchandizing it to the public as an alternative lifestyle. After the polygamy deed is done and reality sets in, there are no TLC paychecks to support ruined monogamous marriages.  

TLC continues to market polygamy, knowing it is considered a human rights violation, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld its criminalization.

It is improbable that Kody Brown and any “sister-wives” would ever have been involved in polygamy if they had known differently or if there was more prevention and justice for victims and survivors. 

At this very moment, women worldwide are treated as second-class citizens coerced and forced into polygamy. 

Discovery Channel has the opportunity to make our world a healthier and safer place through education. Kody Brown saying he does not “believe in polygamy anymore” is not good enough. (For all practical purposes, Kody is a monogamist these days – there is no need for a TLC-Brown spin-off to reward unethical behavior.)  

We hope you consider our letter to cancel TLC “Sister Wives” and help stop greedy businesses financially profiting from any form of modern-day slavery, including polygamy. 



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