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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Big Love and Sister Wives: A Brief Comparison Between the Family Matriarchs

Here's a brief comparison of the grandmothers of Big Love and Sister Wives.

Yes, I know Lois and Adaleen are fictional characters, but they do present some common characteristics with  Genielle; mainly hospitality and love of family. Well, perhaps Lois not so much on the hospitality.

Anyway, one thing for sure, they certainly love their children, although I don't think Adaleen nor Lois would be as kind as Genielle if their son tried to eat half of her breakfast.

Genielle Brown
Lois Henrickson
Adaleen Grant

First wife of Winn Brown, mother of Kody Brown. Has 2 other sister wives.
Second* wife of Frank Harlow, mother of Bill Henrickson. Had 5 other sister wives (one deceased).
Sixth wife of Juniper Creek’s prophet Roman Grant, mother of Nicolette and Alby Grant. Had 13 other sister wives.

According to Kody, his mother would “fall on her sword for me.”
Sliced off the right arm of Hollis Greene with a large serrated knife when he dared to put a hand on her son Bill.
Conspired to have son Alby murdered in a rest stop men’s room. (Tap...Tap...Tap)

Was LDS, and converted to fundamentalism when Kody was in his teens. Was later excommunicated from the LDS church while Kody was on his LDS mission. Her sister wife Sheryl is Kody’s wife Janelle’s mother.
Lois’ father Orville Henrickson was prophet of Juniper Creek who died under mysterious circumstances. He was succeeded by his accountant, Roman Grant.
Adaleen has a complicated family tree. As she explains:“I'm 32 out of 56 children. And when I married Roman, I became my own step grandma as my father married Roman's daughter Faylene.   When I had Alby, he became my great uncle and I became his great great grandmother. Which of course makes me my own grandmother." Not to mention she also married her daughter’s ex-husband J.J.

Had problems with jealousy when Sheryl joined the family. As she puts it “I took care of kids and Sheryl took care of Winn.” Later, she got to know Sheryl better, and now considers her one of her very best friends.
Was notorious for her ill treatment of her sister wives. Of the concussions her sister wives suffered at her hands, she explained  "The Principle brings up our jealousies for the purposes of healing."
When Adaleen was asked how she could stand a particularly loathsome sister wife, she replied “I love her, and we are all equals. But last night I did dream I was trying to push her out the car  while driving along at a pretty quick clip.”


  1. I didn't watch Big Love enough to see all the activities of Lois and Adaleen.
    However, from what I did see, WHOA! Wouldn't want to be on their bad side.
    I actually thought that Genielle and Sheryl seemed really kind and sweet, like BFF'S.

    1. I wasn't so convinced. What they said hinted at a rather turbulent past and I didn't have the feeling that it was all past perfect. They live in separate houses and I thought their 'friend act' was mostly for the benefit of the cameras. They have had longer to practise the Stepford smile than Kody's wives, but if you close your eyes and just listen to the words, they're surprisingly frank about their issues with each other. I think there was a lot of jealousy between them in the past and as Winn is getting older and less of a patriarch, he's less worth fighting over.
      I don't for one second believe that these women spend any more time together than they have to. Watch them cooking together. I have at least one friend who is more comfortable in my kitchen than that and we cook together maybe twice a year. All the kids are grown, at least some have moved away, they're presumably not feeding a small army anymore, so if they were close, they would often eat together. Not the impression I got from them.
      Also, where's the third wife? Is she dead or just didn't want to be filmed?
      Before I found this blog, I took everything these people took at face value, now I wouldn't believe them if they said rain was wet.

    2. I got the feeling that, after several years, they were able to function as a unit when they had to-more like Christine/Janelle than Meri/Janelle or Meri/Christine. True, viewers only saw what the director wanted to show, but they didn't seem to have waves of rancor emanating off them. Since the third wife wasn't filmed, there's no way to know how she fits into the family dynamic-something I'm interested in knowing.

    3. What stuck with me more was Winn's lack of interaction with his family. I wanted to know if he was ill (Alzheimer's/Demetia), was angry at Kody for bringing a camera crew into his home, or just had an aloof demeanor. Kody seems flustered when he has to interact with his kids en masse, I wonder if he's that way because his own dad was hands off?

    4. What really was weird (at least to me) was how Janelle kind of wrote him off saying that because he had worked so hard his body was giving out and Sheryl and Genielle would probably outlive him. It's one thing to say something like that in private, but in front of cameras was a bit cold.

    5. The ladies did seem livelier than Winn, but so does paint drying. I wonder what Janelle's relationship was (if she had any) with her father-in-law/step-dad.

  2. Cynical Jinx,

    I bow to your *expert* knowledge of Big Love.
    This comparison is just one more example of your writing skills....and wit !!

    Also another reason why SWB is top notch !!

  3. Peanut Butter FritosAugust 4, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    I think it would be fascinating to talk to Kody's mom. Obviously, she isn't an egomaniac like Kody (can't think of anyone he'd fall on a sword for), and if she really led the conversion, she must be driven by something.

    Big Love was so well cast I always thought Lois and Adaleen were so compelling. These comparisons make me want to go watch Big Love again!

    1. Kody has repeatedly denied knowing anything about the Fundamental life- which is FAR from the truth. Actually, (JMO) if I were LDS, I would wonder about being Fundamental- since they are following the root of their beliefs.

    2. What a liar. that's like being Catholic and saying you didn't know that sometimes priests abuse children

  4. Lois might not have been hospitable as far her abusive husband Frank was concerned (on top of the abuse she blamed Frank for marrying off SPOILER her daughter early-which caused her to commit suicide-I wish they had spent more time on that, instead of briefly mentioning it in the third season. I found it strange since neither Bill, Joey or Lois had mentioned it before)END SPOILER

    Although Lois/Frank spent most of their screen time together trying to kill each other, Lois did have a soft spot for her sons, Joey and Bill. She is guilty, though of bullying her sisterwives-in that aspect she is like Meri. Not just physical abuse-she used Jodeen like a pack horse! Also she SPOILER tried to use a mentally ill Wanda to poison Frank, and had Wanda committed to a mental institution when she refused to let Joey take a second wife (she later changed her mind). END SPOILER

  5. I just found your blog, googling to see if there was to be any more seasons of this show. Wow, talk about seeing the light! I enjoy the show and recently read their book. It confirmed to me that I like Janelle, Robyn gets right up my nose and Meri has issoooooooes. So I have been reading back through the archives and rather than chose an old post to comment on, here I am!

    I was hoping the book would enlighten me to a more robust reason for the fleeing to LV ... fleeing so they don't get split up and the wives have to live separately ... ummmm, can't see how that is working out. And there was no other reason given bar what was shown in the series. Even from the outset it was evident that this was going to cause a lot of stress and upheaval versus whatever legal actions could be taken against them which would unfold at a more manageable pace. There is something else there, and maybe it is just a Kody pipedream to live in LV, supported by Robyn wanting to be near family, or maybe there were more prosecutable offences Kody was worried about an investigation unearthing?

    What most disappoints me is that they have said outright there is no welfare fraud and that's why they felt fit coming forward. And yet it seems there is. I am very live and let live, and I am pretty liberal when it comes to people receiving support from society. But to balance that, it is a very important value to me that people manage their resources responsibly, and do not deliberately set up lives they cannot sustain. We live with one person working, one not and managing the home (for only 2 children!) and this ratio is manageable financially for us. I thought that perhaps they were telling the truth, with perhaps 2 well paid full-time workers and 1 part-time, cheap property and a modest lifestyle, it would be doable. I assumed at first that Kody had a well-paying stable job, given that flash car and the house and all those kids! Well it seems not.

    And then the book also blew the lid off how the wives really feel about each other. This is the saddest aspect for me, the nail in the coffin about what was most appealing about their family. I have a family member who I sometimes joke is a sister-wife, because we do share the load, support each other emotionally and without a doubt I would want her to raise my kids if I couldn't and would want hers in the same situation. And I actually like her! It seems the reality in the Brown family is that they are drinking from a poisoned well and the fact that it seems Christine and Janelle managed to work out something with a respectful amount of give and take is a real credit to them both.

    Better stop writing and keep making my way through your archives, I am a convert!

  6. I HATE people trying to take some of the food I'm eating. I won't allow it. If they manage I throw the rest at them. I don't drink after people so if they take a drink of my drink, hey, they're getting the whole drink. First time they get to drink it. 2nd time they get to wear it. Mom didn't raise Kody well to get by with that. Kody's kids don't like him eating their food.

    I didn't eat my kid's garbage nor have them eat after me. My ice cream belongs to me. Theirs belongs to them.

    Kody needs to live with a pack of lions for a week to learn manners.

  7. I thought the Sheryl was the third wife and that wife #2 was the one off camera. Am I mistaken?

    1. No, you are not mistaken, you are correct! Sheryl is wife #3.

  8. I forgot there was a third wife married to Winn. Does anyone have info about her?

  9. It seems that the 3rd wife is often the favorite, hence the jealousy.

    1. I think it has to do with cultural standing-doesn't a man have to have three wives in order to rule his own planet? Wives 1 and 2 are just stepping stones.

  10. I think it is more to do with the man's age difference with wife #3-at least in most cases.

  11. Peanut Butter FritosAugust 6, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Hey I just thought of another similarity!

    Bill starting courting the ill-fated 4th wife when Margie got pregnant again!!!

  12. Cynical, your such a great writer. Maybe sometime you could write a comparison of the Dargers and the Browns - with all your snark!

  13. "According to Kody, his mother would “fall on her sword for me."

    What mother wouldn't for their children? Adaleen! Thank goodness she's fictional.

    It also is a reminder of those mothers that have to send their sons away. Many have asked, "Why don't these women just leave!" Years of abuse, acts like that would beat any human down to a pulp. Abuse.

    Why did Adaleen want to kill Albie? Can anyone summarize the end of the show? They lost me during the Casino crap.

    1. SPOILER> Because he was trying to keep whathisname from being the prophet and because he was gay I believe.