Review: "Sister Wives"

Reason to watch: The polygamous Browns return for a second season, and this time they're under legal scrutiny.

When/Where: Sunday at 9 p.m. on TLC

'Sister Wives' on TLC: polygamy reality

Kody (center) with sister wives (L to R)

Kody (center) with sister wives (L to R) Robyn, Christine, Meri and Janelle star in TLC's "Sister Wives." (Credit: TLC)

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Kody Brown has four wives: Meri, 40, Janelle, 41, Christine, 38, and Robyn, 32, who joined the clan at the end of last season, and brought along her three kids from a previous marriage. Total population of the Brown household in Lehi, Utah: 16 kids and five adults. As season two begins, the clouds have yet to gather. The kids are going from home schooling to public schools and a September interview on "Today" looms. They're nervous, but the interview goes off largely without a hitch.

Then the hammer-blow: The Lehi police open an investigation. (Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states.) Says shaken patriarch Kody, the family "never did this [went public] out of disrespect for the law. . . . You look up to the heavens and say, 'You got my back?' It puts you in touch with your maker."

MY SAY: The Browns are either the most oblivious stars of reality TV or the most disingenuous -- and because they do seem so nice, I'll go with the former. As Kody reasoned last season, the family submitted to a TLC series to show the world how fundamentally decent and normal polygamy is, and by opening the door, this lifestyle would be accepted. Yet it never seemed to occur to any of them that this is a felony in Utah -- they've since moved to Las Vegas -- or that TV exposure could pose a genuine hardship for the children, who didn't get a vote in the matter.

As a family, they are particularly eager to convey a sense of normalcy, but "Sister Wives" still doesn't have much interest in exploring the religious underpinnings or larger ethical questions of this anything-but-normal lifestyle. You're left without a solid clue why the Browns -- all five of them -- have gone to this much trouble.

BOTTOM LINE: An incurious reality series about a curious lifestyle.

GRADE: C+

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