Why Sister Wives Is Totally Fake

From a catfishing affair to interfamily adoption to an unexpected coming out, TLC's Sister Wives might be one of the most dramatic reality shows on TV in recent memory. But there is something a little bit fishy about it all, right? How so much drama could find one group of people? How they could stick together, through thick and thin? It's almost as though it's all too good to be true. Not to burst your bubble, but we've got some compelling reasons why Sister Wives is totally fake.

Leaving Utah was the plan all along

A lot of noise was made in the initial seasons of the show about the plight of the Brown family being chased out of Utah due to their persistent flouting of norms and laws governing polygamy in the state. In the show, great dramatic scenes were staged to show the family in a state of desperation, with options dwindling before they ultimately decided to flee to Las Vegas. It's all very dramatic — and also very fabricated, according to Radar Online. Leaving Utah wasn't forced on them — it was part of the plan all along, they learned from a source close to the family.

"They talked about moving to Vegas long before they did," the aunt of Christine Brown, Kristyn Decker, spilled to Radar Online. "That was their plan, and they used the state coming after them for ratings. That's my strong opinion." So according to members of the family who would know, the Browns stirred up their own controversy. They weren't exiled. They're inviting scrutiny for ratings, and controversy was the point.

All involved were handsomely paid

Of course, all this controversy is worth courting when the cast is breaking the bank for it. Cafe Mom estimated the family has been taking home around $50,000 per episode, based on salaries of other reality TV stars. It's possible those earnings, in addition to other revenue flows, have led to Kody Brown's estimated net worth of eight hundred thousand dollars. And since those per-episode numbers probably increase as the show gets older, it's a built-in incentive for the cast to put on the most highly-rated show possible.

So is it possible they're only doing this for the money? It's definitely possible. For years prior to their big TLC breakthrough, the family was struggling to stay afloat, declaring bankruptcy three different times. Film and television producer Laurie Allen described the setup in a 2011 segment with Jane Velez-Mitchell on her CNN show, Issues. "These people are scamming every which way," Allen asserted, commenting on the Brown family's financial situation leading up to the Sister Wives breakthrough. "They've been in all kinds of trouble They've all filed bankruptcy. They rotate the wives around, one files one year, a couple years later another would shift the debt around. They shift the debt around; they're living off food stamps. They've been in all sorts of financial trouble. [...] And then this show comes along."

They blatantly fudge the timeline

Here's a good one. Sometimes real life becomes more dramatic than the life portrayed on screen, and fans end up knowing about something that was never addressed in the show. In this case, it was Kody and Meri's shocking divorce, and the subsequent sneaky marriage between Kody and Robyn.

The problem? According to All About the Tea (take that as you will,) they did this under the radar so that TLC cameras weren't even there to film what would have been considered major scenes. How to fix this? Well, you can always shoehorn footage in by messing with the timeline, staging scenes to tidy up the narrative, filming scenes in February and presenting them as though they'd been filmed the December prior. They're not documenting reality; they're trying to tell a story. It may still be entertaining, but it may also be blatant fakery.

Are their legal problems greatly exaggerated?

One of the hooks for Sister Wives is, of course, that this is a group of people who are getting away with something, holding fast to love in the face of the law. But closer scrutiny makes their legal problems questionable. As Jezebel points out, and as the relevant laws seem to support, the Brown family practice of "spiritual marriage" is extremely low on the list of concerns for law enforcement operations around the country, and laws against bigamy, polygamy, or cohabitation tend to not be enforced so long as no real crimes are being committed at the same time.

It's a gray area. Technically, they're in the wrong, but realistically, their case would not attract attention, or lead to arrest, unless they were engaging in polygamy while committing other crimes. The show exaggerates this, making our merry band of lovers out to be bigger outlaws than they are.

Everyone is miserable

The saddest news of all? The sister wives might want off of this money mill, according to Radar Online, putting future seasons of the show, and even the future of the family, into serious doubt. And who could blame them? We see enough drama watching the show. Can you imagine the kind of real pain that takes place in a family like this when the cameras are off? First, there was Meri being caught in an emotional affair with what she believed to be another man. Catfishing aside, these were real feelings, and they speak to real problems.

Going further, InTouch Weekly describes the family in April 2016 as being in a state of "all-out war", and it doesn't look like things are getting any better. Christine is miserable, and Meri and Janelle don't get along. How could they, at this point? It's starting to look like it'll be more surprising if the show survives. It's a miracle it's lasted as long as it has under all this frankly absurd pressure.

Can love last in this cold uncaring world?

Is a relationship like this meant to last? We don't know — we're not love doctors. But trouble in paradise seems pretty much certain at this point. From the family shaking apart, to the show coming under scrutiny for its consistent acts of fakery, it wouldn't take much to make this the end of the line for Sister Wives. Maybe the Browns have had enough of each other; maybe we've had enough of them. But hey, nothing's certain. We've given you five reasons why the show may not be real, but all it really needs to be to win us back is to be entertaining. Here's hoping, you crazy kids.