15 Cringe-Worthy Moments From TLC's Sister Wives

Frankly, the first time many people heard about Sister Wives, they were flabbergasted. They honestly couldn’t believe that four women would “marry” a man – the same man – and choose to live with him as the king of the castle. But as is with all things shocking, vilifying and ridiculous – we ended up watching the show. Viewers were eager to get a look into the crazy and often shocking lives of these people. It is rare that most people get to see a glimpse of life as a polygamist, especially since it is widely seen as a taboo.

The sister wives claim to be close to each other and say that they love living in a family where all the children have more than one mother, and daddy darling struts in like a peacock looking rather proud of his harem and the various chicks. Shown to be Mormons, the family was excommunicated by the church that’s eager to shed its once polygamy-friendly outlook. Frankly, the whole show makes most people cringe. It looks forced and like a farce. The smiles are quick to come but only when the cameras are on and the women, a.k.a. the sister wives, aren’t all that sisterly once the cameras go off. Some moments, instances and episodes, however, remain even more etched in readers’ memories simply because they were unbelievably cringe-worthy and sometimes even barf-worthy. Here are the 15 most awkward and cringe-worthy moments of this most twisted show.

15 Kody Dumped Meri For Robyn

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For years, Kody remained married to Meri when it came to legality, while the other wives were more spiritual wives than legally married ones. As of 2015, Kody has been married to Meri for 25 years, Janelle for 22 years, Christine for 21 years, and Robyn for 5 years. The very first season of the show premiered with Kody courting Robyn and culminated with their spiritual marriage. Later in 2014, Kody and Meri decided to divorce to allow Kody to legally marry Robyn and adopt her three children from a previously monogamous relationship. The trials and travails that Meri goes through are not pretty. She and Kody may have had the longest relationship but now with Kody legally marrying his youngest wife; Meri seemed discarded and distraught. She shared just one child with Kody owing to fertility problems and with Robyn entering the Brown household and giving Cody two kids in quick succession, Meri looked more like a piece of furniture than an actual wife.

14 Meri Is Secretly Depressed Over Being Rejected

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Kody and Meri decided to legally divorce in February 2015 so that Kody could legally marry Robyn. The so-called split was carried forward because Kody wanted to legally adopt Robyn’s children so that they would always be financially secure. But what did Meri truly feel about it all? During the Sister Wives reunion special, she tackled the issue head-on and with surprising grace: “It’s about the kids; it’s about the unity of the family. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve got that mixed emotion going on… It’s an end of something that we had had, in a way, for 24 and a half years. But at the same time, I know it’s not [the end] because I have eternity with him. I have eternity with the family. I know it’s not the end.” But with Kody clearly being head-over-heels for Robyn and wanting to marry more women on the younger spectrum, for Meri, it just might be the end. This is what happens when you let your husband marry other people!

13 Meri Had An Affair To Feel Wanted Again But Was Catfished

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Despite the speech above, Meri felt discarded and unwanted for a time in the Brown cavalcade. And so she reached out anonymously online and apparently found a man who she seemed to like and who seemed to like her a lot. She confided in the man, and sources say that was literally ready to leave Kody and move on with her life. Except that the guy she was talking to was actually a woman – Meri Brown had not just been dumped by Kody, she also had been catfished. The man she was talking was a woman pretending to be a man, who made Meri fall for her and then reveal family secrets. Meri explained the situation: “During an emotional and vulnerable time earlier this year, I began speaking with someone online who turned out to be not who they said they were. I never met this person and I regret being drawn into this situation, but I hope because of it I can help others who find themselves in similar circumstances.”

12 The Brown Family Was Under Police Investigation

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The Brown family was investigated by police in 2010. Why? Well, they were thought (and not wrongly) to be in violation of Utah’s bigamy laws. But instead of dealing with the issues and fighting it out in court to prove their innocence, they fled to Las Vegas. Because what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless you are on prime time television, that is! The investigation was dismissed in 2012 but by that time, they had fled to Vegas. Then the Browns decided to file their own lawsuit against Utah, claiming “the state’s bigamy statute violates their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech and freedom of association.” The court, despite the plaintiff's request to hear the case, opted not to hear the Brown’s appeal. The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said Kody Brown and his four wives can’t sue over the law because they weren’t charged under it. Case closed!

11 Two Sister Wives Were Sisters-In-Law First

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Before Janelle married Kody, spiritually, physically and with all her heart, body and soul; she was previously married to a man named Adam Clark Barber. Who is Adam Clark Barber? Well, Meri’s brother. Yep. Before Janelle became Meri’s sister-wife, she was her sister-in-law. Janelle and Barber finalized their divorce in June 1990 and so Janelle got to keep their house while Barber zoomed off with two cars and a motorcycle. When did Janelle meet Kody? According to the show, she met Kody in the fall of 1989, while she was already married to Barber. Husband notwithstanding, she was attracted to Kody at first sight, and once said, "When he walked into the room I looked at him and had that feeling of remembering something I had forgotten. It was a singular experience.” Okay, then, anyone else has a sister-in-law wanting in on this twisted, loopy family?

10 Kody Wants More Young & Attractive Wives

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For Kody, the more the seasons of Sister Wives, the better, for that is where his bread is buttered. After literally proposing to Robyn’s friend on the show, Kody has been hankering for someone really young, like 19 or 20. Sources say, “she has to be attractive and thin. The teasing intro of a hot new wife at the end of a season would give people a reason to tune in, and for the network to renew the series." But Kody's current four wives are miserable already and are literally ready to give it all a big boot. As it is now, there isn't enough love to go around. There was the only that much, to begin with. Rumors of a divorce are looming large and that might just spell the end of Sister Wives. Kody, on the other hand, has allegedly set his sights on marrying one of Robyn's step-nieces as well as the family's nanny, Mindy Jessop, but this has not only irked Robyn but also Meri & Christine.

9 The Real Reason Behind The “Togetherness”

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Based on the paychecks of other reality stars, the Brown family might be taking home around $50,000 per episode. This paycheck, in addition to other revenue flows, has led to Kody Brown's estimated net worth of $800,000. 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. Sources say, "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."

8 The Family Is At War Once The Shoot Is Done

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The family has been described by various media reports 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. And no one likes Robyn. Also, Kody is planning more spiritual wives. Maybe these Browns have had enough of each other or maybe the viewers have had enough of this polygamous drama. But frankly, if a man freely lives with multiple women and expects them to get along – well, he is certainly deluding himself. Other than having to share the man himself, there's so much more work that needs to be done in such a large household. So many mouths to feed, kids to take care of, and general tidying up to be done. Imagine the kind of real pain that takes place in a family like this when the cameras are off! The women certainly got more than they bargained for – and this is why monogamy might just be the way to go.

7 The Spiritual Wives Hate The Physical Closeness

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Kody may once have been wedded to Meri and then to Robyn when it comes to legality, but the fact is the man has four wives, and many children. So obviously, spiritual or legal – the man beds his wives many times. The sister wives, while all supportive on camera, do have difficulty accepting the fact that Kody is intimate with all of them. Your “spiritual husband” got another woman pregnant? Yeah, well, tough luck sister. Robyn, of course, takes the cake and has had it too because the rumor is that Kody now only "likes" her. Being in her bedroom creeps the other three out, considering there’s a family pack sensual "aid" left on the dresser for all and sundry to see. Meri, Janelle, and Christine seem heartbroken over the fact that after giving their whole life to the man, they are now glorified nannies and housekeepers.

6 Kody & Meri Went Bankrupt

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Amid Meri's catfishing scandal, court documents that revealed Meri and Kody filed for bankruptcy in 2005 also came to the fore. Why? Because they were having trouble supporting their ever-growing family. Seriously, there was a reason that kings and rich dudes of yore could afford to keep a harem. Marrying more than one and having a whole brood of kids is an expensive affair. According to the report, the family accumulated almost $230,000 in debt, with bills ranging from $137,000 in mortgages to $8,000 at Home Depot and $1,300 at Best Buy. All that this bankrupt family had was some $10 in cash and $5 in five separate joint bank accounts. No wonder Janelle ran away. The case was closed at the end of 2007 and Kody and Meri was ordered to pay a little less than $188,000. Luckily for them, they got their big break with Sister Wives.

5 Everybody Defended Meri After The Catfish Scandal But The Church Threw Them Out

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With Robyn now being the legal wife of Kody, Meri felt the need to reach out and reconnect with someone as a woman and not just as a wife, mother, or a sister, so to speak. Unfortunately, the man she reached out to online turned out to be a nasty woman out for some gossip. In a Sister Wives special, Kody pointed no fingers at Meri, saying, “What I see is somebody she made friends with, somebody she felt safe with, but she was just having a communication.” Janelle defended Meri as well, saying, “I visualized us all suiting up in armor and circling around her. We were going to go to war to protect her.” But the church the Browns belonged too, had had enough of their polygamy and scandals. A source revealed, “This has been brewing for a long time and Meri’s catfishing scandal was the final straw. The church elders told Kody that he would never be welcomed back, even if the family moved back to Utah.”

4 The Depression: That Time When Janelle Ran Away

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It’s not just Meri who has trials and tribulations; Janelle has had her fill too. Raised in a monogamous relationship, Janelle willingly entered into a polygamous relationship with Kody though he remained legally married to his first wife, Meri. In fact, just a few months before Kody and Janelle’s “marriage,” Janelle’s mother entered into a polygamist relationship with Kody's father – keeping everything and everybody in one large and twisted family! Janelle has six children with Kody: daughters Madison and Savanah and sons Logan, Hunter, Garrison, and Gabriel. Somewhere in between she suffered from postpartum depression. In her memoir, Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage, Janelle reveals that she left the family for two years: “I felt overwhelmed by having had so many children in quick succession and felt seriously depressed at our lack of financial means. I was at my breaking point. I couldn’t see my way out of my depression. I told Kody I was leaving. That night, I got into the car and drove to my mother’s house.” She finally moved back in with the family once they bought a bigger house.

3 The Kids Went Against Their Parents

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For Meri, the heartbreak carried on when her only child, daughter Mariah, came out as gay. Meri didn’t take the news all too well and she told Kody, “You were like smiling and happy and saying you were so happy for her. And I’m just… I don’t.” Kody responded, “We’re not happy Mariah’s gay; we’re happy Mariah knows herself.” The Brown’s religious beliefs came in between Meri’s natural acceptance as a mother, for they are Mormon fundamentalists, who do not accept homos*xuality. But even Janelle’s daughter gave the family a shock when she stepped out and into a monogamous relationship. Maddie got engaged to Caleb Brush and both remained adamant about being monogamous with each other. Caleb later said, “We are not living plural marriage… We support Maddie’s family with their choice of living plural marriage and they support us with our choice in just marrying each other.” Of course, Caleb is Maddie’s aunt’s brother. So the family does remain too close for comfort at all times!

2 Madison Wanted Out Of The Church Of Multiplicity

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Madison didn’t just step out, break the twisty norms and get into a monogamous relationship – she also wanted a change of church. She wanted to branch out from her family's faith (however questionable it might seem to the others) and be baptized into the mainstream Mormon church (a.k.a. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which publicly condemns polygamy). Unfortunately, her dreams were dashed. Maddie later said, "I got a phone call and they aren't letting me get baptized – it's too contradictory and they hope I reconsider [joining the Mormon church] when we're not such a public family. I want to join the church but I won't publicly disown my family or publicly disassociate with them. Unfortunately, all this proved to be too controversial for the Mormon Church so they asked me not to get baptized… They said they hope 'I'm not bitter.'" What happened to forgiveness, tolerance, and all that saintly jazz?

1 Meri’s Heart Isn’t Really In It Anymore

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With Kody divorcing her for Robyn, Meri was at an all-time low. Then came Mariah’s gay outing and the catfishing scandal where scam artist, a woman named Jackie Overton, convinced Meri to reveal multiple secrets to "Samuel Cooper." One of these was a bombshell confession that Meri was considering leaving the Brown compound forever because her heart wasn't in it anymore. There are also rumors that Kody spends the bulk of his nights exclusively with Robyn and is on the lookout for at least two more wives, and the younger, the better. Meri isn’t too thrilled about that too. Sources in the media reported "she did not want to be there anymore. She loved the kids but the marriage was done and she was not wanting to fix it. She said the second sister wife, Janelle, was shocked."

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