The COVID-19 pandemic has completely decimated the Sister Wives‘ Brown family, not necessarily because of strict precautions and rules but because of a lack of communication, compassion, and commitment to getting creative maintaining relationships.
The events depicted in Season 16 of the show start around August 2020, and with the sixth episode airing tonight, they are in October 2020. The family had spent six months with COVID-19 without establishing any ground rules.
In the meantime, Kody was living with Robyn and barely seeing or speaking to the rest of his wives or kids. Kody and Robyn finally agreed to a meeting laying out their ground rules for allowing people in their home when Christine exposed on TV that the couple has a nanny that comes in and out of the house. She wanted to know what the nanny was doing that would allow her access that no one else in the family had.
Kody would not even carve out time to help care for his daughter Ysabel as she went through a long and painful convalescence after spine surgery. Now, a year later, Kody has revealed on Cameo that he regrets his strict COVID rules.
What are the Browns’ COVID rules?
Kody tells them, six months after COVID started, “You have to take this like you would religion and scripture. And you take it like transparency and lay it over your life and see how it fits.”
1. Wear a mask in public
2. Sanitize hands after shopping
3. Wash hands often
4. Sanitize purchased products and groceries with alcohol wipes before placing inside house
5. Remove shoes outside
6. Change clothing after visiting shops, other homes, or businesses
7. No eating at sit down restaurants only takeout
8. When shopping use curbside pickup
9. 2-week quarantine after travel or having visitors
10. No movie theaters, bars, fitness centers or restaurants
11. Sanitizing hands and changing clothes after visiting shops
12. Kids can see friends if maintaining 10 feet social distance and only for a limited time
13. Clean mail with alcohol wipes
Who came up with the Browns’ COVID rules?
Everyone seems to be passing the buck about where these rules originated. When they had their meeting in October 2020, Kody says that he had just written up what they had been doing at his house. Meri made a remark to Robyn that they the rules she “made up,” which sparked a huge reaction. Robyn wanted to make clear that she did not come up with the rules while Kody can be heard in the background saying that the rules came from the nanny.
Later, Kody claims that the rules came from his doctor. Robyn insists that Kody would not allow a wife to control him and that she has nothing to do with the rules. She is deeply offended about everyone looking to her as the keeper of the rules because one of the other wives’ kids called her with an appeal for her to loosen up the restrictions so the family could see each other.
Kody is also offended that wives and children are looking to Robyn for direction when it comes to the rules and how the family was allowed to interact because he wants to be seen as the head of the family. Most of the rules were pretty reasonable when it comes to avoiding the spread of COVID-19, but some of them, like cleaning mail with alcohol and changing clothes immediately after going out in public, weren’t recommended for most people in October 2020 because at that time it was recognized that the biggest risk comes from respiratory droplets and person-to-person contact.
The true problem with the family’s COVID rules is not that they had rules and precautions, its that the way they were communicated, withheld, and even weaponized. Although all of the women may have had different opinions about how things should be handled, the issue was about what they could all agree upon to come together as a family, at least for things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most of the time Meri was adhering to strict guidelines the most since she lived alone and would spend extended periods of time quarantining. Even so, she was not allowed to socialize with Kody, Robyn, and their children.
Robyn denies that she is behind the rules, but she makes clear that she is the one who denied Meri access to her family. Her reason is that she did want the other wives to get mad. She also said that it was up to Kody, and he publicly granted Meri permission to have a “playdate” with Ariella and Solomon.
Christine, for one, made clear in the confessional that she was shocked to hear that Meri was denied access to Robyn and her kids even though she was following the rules. There was no televised discussion about Christine and Janelle’s feelings about this, but neither expressed anger or objection to Meri visiting Robyn’s house.
Kody also seems to still have a misunderstanding about Ysabel’s trip to New Jersey to have invasive surgery. He still calls that trip a vacation even though Christine was giving Ysabel around-the-clock pain management and care after the surgery. Weeks later, Ysabel is back home and still in need of constant care, and has mobility issues. Thankfully, she’s doing well a year later, but it took a lot of time to heal from the complicated procedure to correct a 55-degree curve in her spine.
In this episode, Kody even makes it clear that he wishes she could recuperate faster so he could stop feeling guilty about not being there for her as if he is the victim of her pain. Christine doesn’t have a nanny or any sort of employee to help her with Ysabel’s care, so it would have made sense for Kody to spend some time quarantining in order to help care for Ysabel when she was in the most pain.
Christine has also made it clear that when she and her family aren’t traveling to visit her other kids, they quarantine and follow COVID-19 precautions. She wanted to know why Ysabel wasn’t allowed to visit with Robyn’s kids after recuperating from surgery for weeks and brought up the fact that Robyn and Kody have a nanny to highlight what seemed like hypocritical behavior.
The nanny has a husband, and according to Christine, the husband does all the shopping. At the time the only time she was leaving the house was to shop and she was the only one in her household leaving. She saw that situation to be similar to the nanny’s home situation and wanted to know why they weren’t being treated the same way as the nanny.
Janelle’s situation is a little trickier as she has two sons who work, go to school, and socialize outside the home and are unwilling to be extremely strict with COVID-19 guidelines. Still, Janelle claims that her house has rules like wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing/sanitizing. Kody has taken her and her boys’ seeming rebellion to an extreme, and the last episode told her to choose between him or her children.
He even wanted her to ask her oldest son, Garrison, to move out of the house. Janelle explained that he was living with her while he saved money to buy his own house, but wasn’t quite financially ready for that. Kody wanted him gone right away so he could visit Janelle and her daughter Savannah more often. Janelle is usually willing to ultimately go along with Kody’s desires, but he hit a button by asking her to put him above her children.
Janelle found it absurd that Kody waited so long to write exactly what he was expected of everyone in order to see them, and also found the guidelines to be too strict, although she agreed with many of them.
Kody now regrets how strict the COVID rules were
Despite the great lengths Kody went to avoid COVID-19, he still contracted the virus at some point, which he revealed recently on Cameo.
In a newer Cameo, he goes so far as to say that he has regrets about his rules now.
The people who ordered the Cameo from Kody told him they were proud of him over his COVID protocols. “I don’t even know what to say about that anymore,” Kody admits. “I think my cure has been worse than the disease.”