Sister Wives is better than ever and it’s attracting a lot of new fans. Are you new to the Brown family or just need a refresher? Here’s a quick rundown of everything that has happened since Sister Wives premiered more than a decade ago.
Lehi, Utah (Seasons 1-2)
When Sister Wives first airs in September of 2010, Kody Brown has 3 wives (in chronological order: Meri, Janelle, Christine) whom he lives with in one big polygamist-style house in Lehi, Utah. Lehi is known for having a large Mormon community, but during the time of season 1, polygamy was a criminal act in Utah.
The house was laid out in a way that the wives had a private portion (see below) and Kody travelled between sections to spend time with each on a rotating basis. (Drama begins to unfold over the course of the series once you learn third wife Christine did not appreciate being the “basement wife,” a derogatory phrase in polygamy acknowledging that you’re “hidden.”)
In Season One, third wife Christine is pregnant with what will be her last child as Kody begins to court a potential fourth wife, Robyn. (This is important to note because many think of Robyn as a new addition to the series at some point, when in reality she was in Episode 1.)
Robyn is divorced with children of her own, something Kody is hesitant of at first. Despite this, many fans still believe Robyn instantly became “the favorite.”
Christine finally says out loud that Kody has a "woman he loves" and a "favorite wife." #SisterWives pic.twitter.com/sDBLdz4buL
— Starcasm (@starcasm) September 12, 2022
The first two seasons of Sister Wives really dive into the changing dynamics of adding a 4th wife, shown through the drama of both Kody and Robyn’s courtship and wedding, and the jealousy the other wives (mostly Christine) experience. For the most part, though, at this time everyone is splitting time evenly and all the children are fairly young.
Because polygamy is a criminal act in Utah, and because their house isn’t big enough for a 4th wife, Kody decides to move his family to Las Vegas. The new locale will also mean a new living arrangement as the wives plan to live near each other, but not in the same house. Kody believes this will give the wives the “autonomy” they’re craving.
At this time, Kody “sells” the move to Las Vegas as being a safer place to practice polygamy because of the “liberal” reputation of the city. The 5 adults and (at this time) 16 kids pack their things into moving vans and literally flee the scene of the crime as police sirens echo in the background.
Las Vegas, Nevada (Seasons 3-13)
Considered by many to be “filler,” it’s somewhere during these seasons where a lot of fans fell off the bandwagon. True fans, however, consider this “the meat” of the series – because truthfully, if it wasn’t for all of this we wouldn’t have the exciting drama we have today!
In Las Vegas the Browns decide the best way for their family to function is to build four separate homes on a cul de sac. The Browns share yards and ultimately a neighborhood, creating a form of separate togetherness. (My favorite episode of this era is watching each wife customize her home to her specific needs because it totally drives Kody insane.)
The most interesting part of the Vegas years is watching the older kids grow up, and watching the dynamic of adding Robyn’s two babies with Kody to the mix. The older kids get married and have babies of their own, and some even come out of the closet.
If you’re interested in seeing the Browns’ ups and downs as a family of 23, I suggest watching the entire series. If you are just in it for the intrigue and gossip, you can probably hit fast forward. (There are episodes like “You Asked, Browns Answer” from season 4 that can catch you up also.)
The turning point of the Las Vegas years is a scandal that rocks the series. First wife Meri, struggling with her marriage to Kody, befriends a male online suitor who turns out to actually be a female catfish.
The revelation completely destroys her marriage to Kody as he now sees her as a cheater and a traitor. Meri, positioning herself as a victim of cyber crime, spends a lot of time and effort uncovering the truth about the catfish.
Everything gets a little weird after this, and it’s clear that trouble is brewing. When his family is fractured, Kody responds how he always does: by suggesting they move. The Browns purchase a large section of undeveloped land in Flagstaff, Arizona on a property they name Coyote Pass.
Kody suggests moving back to a “one big house” set up similar to Lehi, and he even hired an architect to draw up plans. The pitch falls flat, though, and gets a NO vote from all 4 wives.
With the hopes of someday building multiple houses on their new property, the Browns list all four of their Las Vegas homes for sale and move to Arizona.
Flagstafff, Arizona (Seasons 14-present)
As mentioned above, the property purchased by the family is undeveloped. So, the wives have to live in different houses in and around Flagstaff — some (Meri and Janelle) further from Coyote Pass than the others (Robyn and Christine).
Once the Browns settle in Flagstaff, COVID quickly shakes the group to its core. In a very unexpected twist, the pandemic seems to make the show more compelling than it’s been in years.
For possibly the first time ever, COVID made a show BETTER and when I say better I mean ON FIRE🔥 #SisterWives
— Reality By Ashley (@RealityByAshley) January 4, 2022
Having to film a lot of footage themselves while distancing, we get the raw, behind-the-scenes look Sister Wives fans have been waiting for. (This is likely why season 17 recently had the highest premiere rating in 6 years.)
The Browns experience some drama when it comes to settling into temporary houses, but the main story becomes how each wife treats COVID differently. Kody, believing he’s in charge of everyone’s safety, sets protocols in place, which eventually turns into an ultimatum of who gets to share his time:
- Meri never sees Kody, mostly due to their already fractured relationship.
- Janelle fights with Kody on his “strict rules” and feels she has to choose between him and her less-strict children.
- Christine doesn’t handle the additional distancing well, and when Kody refuses to travel with daughter Ysabel to get scoliosis surgery, their marriage begins to completely break down.
- Robyn, who “follows the rules,” gets Kody’s primary attention as Kody begins to spend most of his time at her house. However, the strict protocol lines seem blurred a bit when we find out they’ve been letting a nanny into their home. (Poetically, this information comes out when the nanny contracts COVID.)
Once COVID starts to slow down, the aftermath of the pandemic finds nearly everyone fractured. While out at Coyote Pass trying to envision their future there, Christine walks away from the group.
Ironically it’s Meri who chases her down and tries to convince her to stay with the family… however, it’s too late. Christine tells Meri she “can’t do marriage with Kody anymore,” signaling the beginning of the end for them.
During the finale of season 16, Kody finds Christine has boxed up all his belongings from her house and placed them in the garage.
Beyond Sister Wives
What will happen to the Brown family and Sister Wives now is the ultimate cliffhanger. Season 17 is set to show the past year of Kody and Christine splitting up. While we’re also set to find out what the other wives have been up to, Twitter is mostly celebrating Christine’s “glow up.”
Can we please acknowledge Christine’s glow up? She’s beautiful, her hair looks great, she’s confident, she looks peaceful & happy. She’s living her best life & she deserves it! #SisterWives
— Rochelle Saenz-Lopez🇺🇦 (@Rochell21664616) February 21, 2022
We can assume plans are still in the works for Coyote Pass after Christine removed her name from the property deed (and moved back to Utah.) She’s also been hanging out with Janelle.
As for the rest, you’ll have to tune in! Sister Wives season 17 airs on TLC Sunday nights at 10/9c.
Ashley Marie is a writer for Starcasm and the personality behind Twitter’s @RealityByAshley. You can contact Ashley via Twitter or email at realitybyashley(at)gmail.com