On Sister Wives Kody Brown has made it clear that he expects his four wives to choose their relationship with him over their children. He went so far as to say he wanted to evict two of his children, Garrison and Gabriel, from their mother’s home without her consent. Kody is not on the lease, so has no grounds to do so, but is callously adamant about the wish for them to leave. The motivation for this is cloaked in strict COVID-19 rules that are meant to protect the family, but the issue seems to be about something else entirely.
Garrison Brown, who was 22 last year when this episode was shot, had been working hard and saving money so he could buy a house and move out of his mom Janelle’s house. At the time he only needed a few months more of working and saving to have a down payment, which is an impressive feat at his age.
This need to move into his own place was especially pressing because his dad Kody Brown wanted him to move out of his mom’s house because he refused to give up his job or social life to follow the family’s COVID-19 protocol.
Gabe Brown, who was 19 last year, was also living with Janelle. When the pandemic first hit he angered Kody because he was still visiting his friends. Now, Janelle says all his friends have moved away (probably for college and other endeavors) so she’s actually worried about him being lonely. One person he continues to interact with socially, however, is his girlfriend. He was not working at the time but was looking for a job. Part of Kody’s rules for his adult children is that they cannot be around him if they work outside of the home or have any sort of social contact outside of the home, even if they socially distance and follow COVID-19 protocol at work.
Robyn had two adult children at home at the time, but they were not leaving the house at all. Furthermore, Kody and his wives didn’t have to leave their houses to work. The main job for the family is taping the reality show, and three of the wives sell MLM products to supplement their incomes.
At the start of tonight’s episode, Janelle offered an apology to Kody for balking at his list of rules but explained that she had been doing most of the things listed already. Janelle says that she’s hand sanitizing, social distancing, and wearing a mask. She says the few extra things, like wiping down groceries, and leaving her mail outside for 24 hours, made her feel like she couldn’t breathe and was being held, prisoner.
She said that she still was struggling with it, but would do it for Christmas because these are the rules that Robyn and Kody have embraced. Kody again emphasized that the rules were his, and not Robyn, but praised her for being compliant and for “valuing” what was best for the family.
In confessional Janelle reveals she is offended by Kody always claiming that Robyn sees value in doing what Kody thinks. Janelle is upset because her home life is much different than Robyn’s.
Of course, the rules for the family to get together, and for Kody to be able to come over to Janelle’s house are different. The rules for that are for their boys to leave Janelle’s residence or not see their friends, and, presumably, quit any outside jobs they have.
Janelle has brought up multiple times that some of the COVID-19 rules are detrimental to her mental health. Kody’s response to this was that Janelle’s mental health would “improve” if he could stay at her house, which implies a lot about what Kody thinks of himself.
“If Garrison and Gabriel can cease their social lives,” he says. “Then I can come home.”
He also claimed that he had given his kids “karmically” everything they needed so they could live their life. Now, he wants them to go and would evict them immediately if he could. He can’t, though, because Janelle’s name is on the lease.
Janelle again points out that Garrison isn’t that social, and that he needs a few more months for him to buy a house. “I’m not gonna kick him out this close to that goal,” she says.
Kody claims that he’s the only one making sacrifices, and wants everyone else to make the same sacrifices. Janelle points out that Gabe isn’t going to stop seeing his girlfriend, and Kody says that he didn’t have a girlfriend at Gabe’s age because he was on a Mormon mission. What was left out of that example is that Kody was still socializing with other people during this mission even if he didn’t have a girlfriend.
Janelle even brought up the fact that Gabriel’s girlfriend was thinking of moving in with Janelle for a few weeks so she could quarantine for Kody’s specifications before Christmas. Kody said in his confessional that found that to be disrespectful of his religion but didn’t even bring that up to Janelle.
Kody says he’s frustrated with his sons and just wants to be rid of them for not following the rules. He claims he was throughout with an old car and $50 when he was 18, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Ina past episode he even mocked Janelle for letting her “babies” run her house.
Janelle thinks this is a different age than when Kody was young, and she’s not the type of parent to kick her kids out of the house before they want to go. She also thinks that Kody is catastrophizing what they are doing, or not doing, and that their behavior isn’t as bad as he’s imagining.
Following safe practices with COVID-19 is a smart and effective way to prevent the spread of any virus, but there is something else going on with the power dynamics of this complicated family. Kody has revealed that part of his drive to enforce strict COVID-19 rules revolves around the fact that he thinks Christine now hates him because she blames him for being negligent with their daughter Truely when she had a near-death experience over kidney failure.
Part of the larger issue is that Kody is taking people making personal decisions about COVID-19 personally and is hurt that he is unable to control his family with the threat of not seeing them. “It looks to me like nobody cares if I’m at home,” he says to Janelle.
One person who desperately wants to see him, and will follow any rule to do so, is Meri, but he refuses to see her.
One problem with Kody’s take on the rules for COVID is that no direct communication was sent out to explain what the guidelines were until 9 months after the lockdowns started. Some of the standards they issued were the mandates to change clothes after going to the grocery store (the only allowed outing) and wiping down mail, groceries, and all other items before they enter the house. Oddly enough, when Janelle brought Robyn a birthday gift, she wasn’t filmed wiping it down. She still may have done so, but it is odd she would not have made a show of it considering the dire consequences facing family members who refused to wipe down items entering their homes.
At the time, the CDC and most doctors weren’t recommending wiping down objects as the probability of surface transmission was found to be very low.
Everything between Kody and Janelle came to a head at a family meeting at the end of the episode where Janelle felt Kody was guilt-tripping all of them. She stormed off while telling him to “**** off.”
Janelle walked off immediately after Kody formed his face into a creepy, insincere grin and told everyone he hoped “everybody enjoys their Thanksgiving.” It was a passive-aggressive nicety dripping with contempt because Janelle, Christine, and their children were choosing to spend Thanksgiving away from him.