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Sister Wives Season Preview: Will the Spotlight Destroy the Real-Life Polygamists?

They're back! Kody Brown and his three four wives—Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn—plus their 16 children return to television this Sunday, and we've seen the premiere! 

Like the Henricksons over on HBO's fictional Big Love, the Browns are struggling to cope with impact of their "coming out" and their sudden infamy. The kids are at risk for bullying at their new school, paparazzi are stalking the house and the family is still working to integrate new fourth wife Robyn. Will they be able to cope?

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Man, it's rough being a public polygamist. Now that the Browns are "out," as it were, they're facing a raft of woes, the most serious of which, of course, is the investigation. But the legal ramifications of their lifestyle are nothing compared to the social and personal impact.

For one thing, most of the kids are about to enter public school for the first time, and with their plural family receiving national attention, the kids are at serious risk for being bullied. Their father and mothers are torn between fear and optimism. Kody has hope that their alternate lifestyle will be accepted, saying, "Kids are taught tolerance in school," and indeed, Robyn retells a sweet anecdote she hears from her daughter: "Brianna said, 'I told my friend we're polygamists and then my friend goes 'great' and we just kept playing." On the other hand, an older daughter's friend advises the kids that their father could very well go to jail; the parents address the kids' anxiety with a series of wholesome teach-in style talks designed to identify and calm their fears.

Another threat to the family is their sheer fame. Paparazzi and local reporters visit the house regularly, knocking on the door and prowling around the property, and at one point the besieged wives concoct an elaborate scheme to draw the photographers away from the house using some of the older kids as a bait, allowing the younger kids to arrive home from school without being preyed upon by photogs. The best defense is a good offense! Go, ladies, go!

The kids and the wives have also made the mistake of reading the Internet's reaction to their show. (Hint, Browns, take a page from the Duggars and stay off the Interwebs! Such things are not good for your mental health.) The kids regret their online tour instantly, while Janelle says she doesn't mind if people talk about her—but she would prefer they make their mean comments to her face.

So, with all this very genuine and very serious blowback, are the Browns sure they made the right decision to come out in the first place? Robyn notes that they're trying to show the world that polygamy is not all "child brides and insurance fraud," and Kody explains, "We were a little nervous of the consequences of coming out, but I think we have set this path, determined this is what we're going to do. The fundamentalist Mormon community and the polygamists have become secretive in such a way as to threaten the rest of America in their minds. And so to be transparent I believe makes it more safe to them. We're hoping that other fundamentalist Mormon polygamists will actually follow our example by opening their lives up and eventually we can be an open community instead of a closed community."

Last but not least, we gotta tell you that Christine's youngest baby, Truely, is (a) as cute as a button, (b) as bald as Lex Luthor. It's like she's wearing a bald cap! You've got to see it to believe it, so do tune in to Sister Wives, this Sunday, March 13 at 9 p.m. on TLC.

So do you think the Browns made the right decision exposing their kids and their lifestyle to the whole world? Would you ever participate in a "plural" relationship? Tell us in the comments!

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