You may, like me, not agree with the Browns' polygamist lifestyle, but I applaud the family for revealing the tough truth now -- their unhappy-in-Las-Vega teens are now depressed, lonely, and rebellious!
Up until now the Browns have talked about the discrimination they've felt for being involved in their polygamist marriage. They've almost always kept the truth from their bosses and office coworkers and they've protected their kids by living in a close-knit polygamist community where their children attended school -- plus, the family has almost always lived together under one roof-- only recent fourth wife, Robyn, had a separate house.
Now after fleeing to the freedom of Las Vegas after Kody and his wives were being investigated in Utah, the Browns older children are the ones who have been deeply affected by the move and not in a good way
They opposed the move and now they're adrift in public school without their old friends and activities. Hunter, age 14, "is so far from himself, I don't even recognize him," his mom, Janelle, wife # 2, admits. "He's withdrawn, depressed. He has a hard time culturally with the kids here."
Hunter truly looks down in the dumps and Kody's urging him to play football or not just "sit and not live life," does nothing to help.
Meanwhile Christina and Kody's daughter Mykelti, 13, refuses to attend the family's Sunday church service because she objects to her father allowing it to be filmed -- "I have a moral issue with you're filming it. It's sacred and personal and I think it's wrong," she tells her dad, who admits she has a point.
Then there's Madison,14 who tells her parents: "I hate the church we're in right now (their polygamist sect) I prefer not to be in it."
When she confronts her five parents and says " you always told us we could chose our religion," Robyn, wife #4, shoots back -- "but at a certain age, when they have a frontal lobe that's fully formed."
Janelle, Madison's mother, quickly defends her daughter: "She's just expressing her opinion."
The fact that the oldest kids, Madison, Mykelti, and Logan, 15, all agree that they'd like to socialize with other teens from other churches, while Hunter is still depressed, forces a BIG GIGANTIC wedge in the middle of the Brown family.
I'm impressed that Kody and his wives have bravely gone public with lifting the lid on the very real conflicts that have arisen in their highly unconventional family, rather than try to superficially gloss them over.
First and second wives, Meri and Janelle, are far more liberal than Kody and wives #3 and #4, Christine and Robyn. Probably because both have worked full time outside the home and have older children.
Janelle and Meri are so worried about the mental health of their teens they are willing to take an "extraordinary" measure and explore enrolling their children in a youth group at a local Presbyterian church, so they can socialize.
Kody is wary! "I grew up in a family where my social venue was completely Mormon," he says.
Robyn is adamantly opposed to integrating the kids: "We're killing ourselves to live this life, live this faith -- why are we leading our children to another faith, she worries."
The debate and the depression of the kids is hardly over by the end of the episode. And it overshadows the episode's other big news -- Robyn is pregnant with Kody's 17th child!
Her biggest hurdle is telling Meri, wife #1, who has suffered from infertility after having only daughter, Mariah, now, 14.
Kody tells Robyn she should break the news of her pregnancy to Meri first -- why he doesn't go along; I don't know. Kody escapes a lot of the tough stuff but Robyn obediently deals with the hard news alone, as does Meri.
Nevertheless, Meri is gracious and self effacing, "I feel really bad that it's an issue that affects me so much that people have to be sensitive with me."
Poor Meri -- She's had to endure now 16 other pregnancies by Kody's other three wives, and of course the biggest reminder of what that means.
"A baby is a physical manifestation that there is an intimate relationship between a husband and one of his sister wives," explains Robyn. "In a plural family, a sister wife will often put the idea of her husband having an intimate relationship with another wife, completely out of her head. So when she's told her sister wife is pregnant, she can't put it out of her head anymore."
Well, that would certainly be true and Meri tries her best to hold back her tears. Not only is she suffering from infertility but she did once have Kody to herself.
Christina and Janelle especially actually really too busy trying to cope with their own kids adjustment to their new Vegas life to be as excited by Robyn's pregnancy as she and Kody.