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Is TLC's Sister Wives Fake?

Since 2010, the masses have followed the lives of polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives as they navigate being part of a plural marriage. Now in its 17th season, "Sister Wives" is a staple of the TLC lineup, with similar shows like "Seeking Sister Wife" following in its footsteps.

Like any reality television series, "Sister Wives" is chock-full of drama, with Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn each dealing with their respective troubles. When viewers initially meet the family, Brown's first three wives aren't thrilled about his latest addition Robyn, with whom he spends an 11-day honeymoon. In fact, he ends up divorcing Meri (the only woman he's legally married to since the others are "spiritual" marriages) to tie the knot with Robyn and adopt her children.

Another gripping portion of "Sister Wives" is the catfishing scandal involving Meri, as reported by In Touch. Though she thinks she's falling in love with a man from a dating app, the individual turns out to be a conniving woman. Then there's the recent controversy surrounding Christine, who announced her departure from her plural lifestyle. According to People, her breaking point came when Brown refused to be present for their daughter Ysabel's scoliosis surgery because of COVID-19 concerns. As for Brown himself, he's in hot water with his remaining ladies after telling them to "conform to the patriarchy." There's bickering, heartache, and some downright outlandish moments throughout the series, which has left many fans wondering if "Sister Wives" is real or scripted.

Janelle says Sister Wives isn't scripted, but other family members beg to differ

It's easy to wonder if the events unfolding on "Sister Wives" and other TLC shows like "My 600-lb Life" are staged for entertainment purposes. On Twitter in 2020, Janelle attempted to set the record straight. "We often forget the cameras are there," she said. "We have never scripted our show and occasionally things happen that get out of control fast."

However, Kody Brown and Christine's daughter Mykelti, and her husband Tony Padron, beg to differ, as reported by The Sun. That same year, the pair hosted a Q&A on Twitch, with one fan asking if the rocky relationship between Kody and Meri following her catfishing scandal in 2015 is legit. Padron said, "It's real, but it's blown up." Mykelti added, "A little bit of both, I would think."

A number of "Sister Wives" fans aren't buying some of the storylines, especially the one involving Brown and his overly-strict COVID-19 guidelines. On Reddit, u/limabean83746 asked, "Does anybody else think the COVID rules might be a fake producer-driven storyline to add drama to the show? If they didn't have that, there wouldn't really be any content for the show." As for u/moosetopenguin, this user called out the family's abrupt move from Utah, where polygamy was illegal at the time, as being overdramatized: "Just ... there was no need to do it so quickly, so immediately, and with fake cop sirens in the background."

Fans of "Sister Wives" are skeptical to believe everything they see on TV. But with the show celebrating its' 17th season, it seems they're willing to look past some moments that likely stretch the truth.