The season has ended for MY FIVE WIVES on TLC; did the Williams family accomplish their goals in taking their family and way of life to TV? Well, to be honest, it is hard to say, because exactly what those reasons and goals were never became truly clear throughout the season.
Their main goal seemed to be to step out and not live in fear of being prosecuted (or, one would imagine, persecuted) for their mutual decision to live polygamy. That, it would seem, would be a goal reached—at least to not live in fear of being prosecuted. The Brown family of SISTER WIVES (also on TLC) were successful in a lawsuit challenging polygamy laws in Utah. While bigamy remains illegal, polygamy was decriminalized. Although the Browns say they never intended to challenge polygamy laws when they started their own show, after fleeing Utah for fear of prosecution, the issue grew into a lawsuit, and ultimately a federal judge ruled to strike down key elements of Utah’s polygamy laws. The Williams family, who also live in Utah, are no doubt benefiting from the Browns’ lawsuit. Whether or not they are also free from persecution is another question and, frankly, no one who stars in a reality show is free from all persecution; it’s the age of anonymous social media, and a quick jaunt across a few chat rooms will shed some light on that issue.
The Williams family has also indicated that they wanted to provide a positive example of a family successfully living polygamy. Whether or not people would agree that they have provided that—there have been numerous examples as to why polygamy does not appear to work during the season—would be something viewers would have to decide. But, honestly, the wives seemed to spend more time unhappy and burdened than fulfilled and enjoying their situation (although, admittedly, that is probably true of most any reality cast, for the sake of drama to keep the show moving and viewers returning). And, in a frank moment of admission, all of the wives—and reluctantly Brady—admitted that if they had not been raised in a religion that “required” it, polygamy probably never would have been a choice they would have made independently (see video). So, the idea that they “just love each other” seems a bit far-fetched. More likely, they got themselves into this when they were all still religiously bound to the practice and now? Well, they have left their formal religious base, but no doubt some of those beliefs still linger; it is just hard to buy that “we just love each other” is the true glue holding these multiple marriages together. It just seems more likely that it is far, far more complicated than that simple statement—far too complicated to be related fully on a reality TV show.
The Williams family did give viewers an open, raw look at life in a polygamous family. It doesn’t seem likely that many minds were changed in favor of the practice. But, then, changing minds in that way does not seem to have been a goal of Brady and his wives. Living their lives openly, in peace, and without fear of being prosecuted, those appear to have been goals the family set—and hopefully achieved. Regardless, they will have another season to convince viewers of their goals, whatever they truly are or become, as the show has been renewed for another season, with the network ordering eight additional episodes for a fall premiere.