Since 2010, we have been hooked on the antics of the large, polygamist Brown family, who give a glimpse into the complicated world of their plural marriage on Sister Wives. You may not think a reality TV show about polygamist marriage would provide much fodder for dramatic tension, but these Mormon housewives run head-to-head with the Real Housewives in terms of snarky gossip.
Each episode of Sister Wives dishes heaping helpings of humor, drama, and, of course, cringe-inducing content. Between patriarch Kody Brown’s insistence on getting his way, the individual quirks of wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown, and the eighteen kids shared between the five, there are a lot of opportunities for things to get super duper weird. So get comfortable, put on your best grimace, and wrap yourself with a blanket before you die from secondhand embarrassment. Here are the ten most cringeworthy moments bequeathed to us by Sister Wives.
Meri Brown hooks a catfish
Meri Brown’s online dating mishap is probably the biggest scandal to emerge from the Sister Wives world. In 2015, Kody Brown’s first wife, Meri, was romanced by a man named “Sam Cooper” on Twitter. Once Meri discovered that she was being catfished and ended their relationship, “Sam” exposed damning details about the dalliance, including photographs of Meri “posing seductively with a banana” and explicit text messages, as noted by InTouch. Unfortunately for Meri, “Sam” turned out to be a woman named Jackie Overton, who InTouch called “an infamous online scammer” who had already duped multiple victims.
Season 9, Episode 12 chronicled the beginning of the messy fallout from the online trap. The incident essentially signaled the dissolution of Kody and Meri’s relationship, although the two were apparently already somewhat on the rocks. As Kody said in Season 15, Episode 8, “The catfishing thing was really just a wake up call for Meri and I. Our problem ran much deeper than that, and it’s probably why the catfishing even happened.” Meri also recognizes the damage done to the marriage: “Our relationship is dead. It’s gone. It’s over.”
Kody Brown has 'regret' about one of his marriages
It’s never fun to see a long-term relationship dissolve, but it’s especially painful when all the details are on national television. According to People, Sister Wives patriarch Kody Brown married his first wife, Meri Brown, in 1990. Meri was raised in a plural family and had long planned to welcome new wives into her marriage, telling People, “When Kody and I first got married, we discussed that this was something that we planned to do in the future with our family.” Apparently, there had been trouble in paradise for many years. In Season 14, Episode 14, Kody claims that he and his first wife were having marital issues “long before” Janelle Brown, his second wife, entered the marriage. In the same episode, Meri confesses that pandemic isolation and her failing marriage made her “really, really lonely.”
We can only imagine how Meri, who, as Us Weekly notes, grew up with twenty-five siblings, feels now that her only child has flown the coop. Kody also seems to be grappling with the situation. Not only did he tell viewers that the pair “aren’t acting married,” he said that although “Meri mourns the loss of what we had… I regret what we had.” Meri’s response? “I can’t make him love me.” Ouch!
Songbird Christine Brown's wedding show
Apparently, when Sister Wives kid Mykelti Padron (née Brown) asked Christine Brown to sing at her 2016 wedding (which was recorded for posterity in Season 12, Episode 5), Christine “thought she was joking.” Not a great way to start a gig, especially since Christine claims she only agreed to sing at her daughter’s wedding because she was “not in favor” of the union at first, and wanted to show Mykelti that she really does approve.
Christine took her job as wedding singer very seriously, even signing up for lessons in order to prepare for the big day. We aren’t knocking Christine’s singing, but no one in this history of weddings has managed to avoid cringing when someone insists on grabbing the microphone to knock out a solo. The moment Christine takes the stage is pretty awkward, but we have to hand it to her, it takes a lot of guts to get up in front of all your friends and family and belt out a song. Kudos to you, mother-of-the-bride!
Mykelti Padron learns the birds and the bees
If you have not had your fill of cringe by this point, try listening to Sister Wives stars Kody and Christine Brown haphazardly attempt to give their daughter, Mykelti Padron (née Brown), “the talk” in Season 6, Episode 19. Mykelti sits there as TLC’s viewership watches her mom, dad, and a whole camera crew warn the new couple off of evils like hand-holding and kissing. As if things couldn’t get more awkward, Mykelti’s boyfriend happens to be in the room, too.
The whole conversation is incredibly painful, but the highlight (lowlight?) of the lecture was Kody’s bizarre take on human biology: “When you kiss, the person that you kiss, their hormones go into your mouth and it registers certain things that will stimulate both the heart and the body for other reasons.” Uh… what? Ten points to Mykelti for not immediately melting into an Alex Mack-style puddle and slithering right out the door. We certainly would not blame her for peacing out and moving to Canada the second her dad started joking about cleaning his gun.
Kody Brown decides it's Flagstaff or bust
Not a single wife wanted to leave Las Vegas for Flagstaff, but as we’ve learned through the past fifteen seasons of Sister Wives, Kody Brown always has the final say. In Season 13, Episode 4, he announced to his spouses that the family would be relocating, later lamenting that he did not understand why the family was not all about it given that he had been telling his wives “for three years” that they would eventually move. When the time finally came to discuss leaving Nevada, some of the wives were upset, citing various reasons for wanting to stay put, including keeping the kids in their current school districts.
The cringiest moment? Pretty much all of Kody’s presentation, which seemed to be modeled to trick the wives into coming to the conclusion that the family needed to move all on their own. Christine Brown called out the manipulative behavior on camera, saying she felt that “he never really said it, he kind of left it up to us… so one of us said it out of our mouths.” The moment was tense, awkward, and set the stage for the move to incite drama down the road, particularly when he later pushes for the wives to share one big house rather than have their own space (although that plan has apparently been nixed, according to InTouch).
Kody and Christine Brown catch some rays at the therapist's office
The beach is the perfect place to relax and reconnect with your spouse. There’s the soothing waves, the warm sand, and… therapy? In Season 9, Episode 4, Sister Wives‘ Kody and Christine Brown decided to turn their vacation into a couples therapy retreat. To put it simply, the whole episode is a cringe-fest. The therapist tags along on their romantic walk on the beach, a pirate cosplay therapy session where Kody won’t stop talking like a buccaneer, and convertible rides around the island. Christine admits midway through the episode that her marriage with Kody has “no trust. No intimacy.”
The retreat is full of bonding exercises that do not seem to help Kody and Christine realize their love for each other. At one point, the couple even bickers about which beach stones to use while building a metaphorical marriage. Christine argues for the small ones because “they’re easier to carry,” but Kody comes back with a barb: “Yeah, but they don’t make a good foundation.” We are not exactly sure what that is supposed to mean, but it comes off as depressing as it is uncomfortable to watch.
The Sister Wives stars give a pitch
Robyn, Meri, Christine, Janelle, and Kody Brown of Sister Wives have been pushing their jewelry brand, My Sisterwife’s Closet, for years now. Season 7, Episode 2 started with the family realizing that they needed a cohesive vision for the business to gain investors. The wives bicker throughout the episode, questioning each other’s commitment to the business and sales savvy. Kody, of course, inserts his own brand of patriarchal drama as the wives try to hash it out amongst themselves. At first, the episode is not exactly “cringey”– sure, it is awkward to watch Robyn and Meri trade jabs over soup and salad, but then comes the piece de resistance: the Big Presentation.
Let’s not mince words: this thing is unbelievably difficult to watch. There are multiple instances of forgotten words and rambling speeches as the wives nervously pitch their jewelry business. In one scene, Robyn straight-up looks like she might upchuck on the floor as the investors stare slack-jawed as if they are watching, well, a particularly gnarly episode of a reality show. Viewers were not exactly charitable about the pitch, either. Said one Reddit commenter of the products: “It’s amazing how bad the jewelry was. The pieces looked like a little girl’s doodlings.” Oof. If you have any sort of fear of public speaking (or an aversion to polygamy-themed jewelry), avoid this episode at all costs.
Kody Brown's big day
There’s a lot going on in the sixth episode of Sister Wives Season 11, which features Janelle and Kody Brown’s daughter, Maddie Brown, tying the knot. The day starts off with the family sharing memories, but they are not exactly sweet ones. For starters, a whole section of the episode is dedicated to the wives describing how much their own weddings sucked. These are the moments in this show that show us just why Maddie, along with the rest of her siblings, are refusing plural marriage (via Us Weekly).
Despite this weird start, the cringiest part of the day still manages to be — drumroll, please — Kody! Kody is so enamored with the groom, Caleb Brush, that he seems to think it is his own wedding day, which is unsurprising given that he’s had so many wedding days they’ve probably started to run together. At first, he wants to knight the groom during the ceremony, a task which is thankfully taken over by Caleb’s dad. When the ceremony is handed back to Kody, though, the ramps up the “charisma” by telling Caleb that although he has just been knighted, Kody is about to “make [him] the king.” If we were Maddie, that would be enough for us to wish for a trapdoor to fall through at the altar. Thanks for the fabulously strange memories, Kody.
Kody Brown gets down and dirty
Okay, sure. It’s cute that the first episode of Sister Wives Season 14 shows father-of-eighteen Kody Brown hanging out with his kids. But to do it in swimwear skimpy enough to warrant a primetime blur when your wives are told to live modestly? If you are a member of Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown’s brood, it is probably hard enough having all of your family’s drama exposed to anyone willing to tune in without your dad running around in his skivvies. Kody takes “airing your dirty laundry” a little too literally as he splashes around in an incredibly muddy pond in an attempt to hype everyone up about their new home in Flagstaff — a move that was not popular with most of the family, which makes the scene all the cringier.
Kody apparently recognized that jumping into a cow manure-filled retention pond in very little clothing was not the most appealing look, later apologizing on Twitter by telling viewers, “You are about to see what can’t be unseen. I am so sorry. It isn’t a speedo! Just having fun with my kids.” One Twitter user shot back by pointing out Kody’s hypocrisy: “So the women have to cover everything including their arms but you can go around in your underwear?” No answer from Kody on that one. Should we be expecting a swimsuit line from My Sisterwife’s Closet anytime soon?
Robyn Brown's uncomfortable purity sermon
Ah, family bonding. Isn’t it the best? You know, when your sister wife/mom/aunt/babysitter stands in front of your dad, his four other wives, and your seventeen siblings to confess that she had (gasp) sex in college, resulting in the birth of your stepbrother, who is now standing next to you looking like he wants to crawl into a hole and die. No? Well, if you didn’t grow up on the Sister Wives compound, you might have missed Robyn Brown’s insanely awkward purity speech in Season 6, Episode 6.
There are several grimace-inducing elements at play here: the unnecessary repetition of the world “purity.” The crying. The way Robyn refers to the premarital conception of her son “the biggest mistake of [her] life.” How every single person in the room (except for Kody Brown, who is listening way too intently) are slumped in their chairs as if they’ve been powered off. Honestly, if the goal is to scare us out of lust, just thinking about this sermon does the trick.
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