”Sister Wives” Without Kody?: Feminist Thoughts on a Rumor I Heard

Listen, I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been sucked into the Sister Wives fandom. I began watching the show a few years ago during COVID-19 lockdowns, and stuck around to see if Kody Brown ever succeeded in destroying his family. I guess you could say that now I’m just dedicated to seeing it through.

I heard in the online gossip channels that the producers of the show are, allegedly, thinking of ways to phase Kody off the show. The rumors are that they are trying to restructure the ex-wives’ contracts with the network so that the show can continue without Kody, documenting the women’s newfound freedom post-divorce. (I’ve heard they’re even considering keeping Robyn on the show without featuring Kody, and to that, I say: no, thank you).

When I first learned of these rumors, I assumed that the production team was tired of Kody’s on- and off-camera antics, finding him to be a loose canon that was too difficult to control. And although I’m sure that has something to do with it, at least in part, I’ve heard there’s actually a different (and far more exciting) reason for phasing Kody out:

The network has discovered that audiences are no longer interested in seeing depictions of women in toxic relationships with volatile men.

While there was, at one time, a market for such content, the entertainment value has worn off. We’ve seen this story too many times. We know the outcomes. And we’re sick of it.

What viewers want, the network has realized, is stories about empowered women. Stories of women overcoming hardships, leaving circumstances that are bad for them, and blazing a new path forward. They want to see self-directed women finding peace while they heal from old wounds, and then, setting out toward happy futures.

What they don’t want is the same tired, played out story of a mediocre man with a receding hairline and a God complex trying to convince women he is the prize he’ll never be. They’re done propping up problematic men who demand loyalty, respect, and emotional labor from women to whom they are almost always disloyal, disrespectful, and emotionally negligent.

And in the words of our merciful Sister in Christ, Lizzo: it’s about damn time.

What we are witnessing is the impact of consistent, empowered female pressure on misogynistic media geared toward appeasing men. We have come to understand our power, and we are pulling the levers as we see fit.

We have applied consistent pressure, spread out across decades, sometimes loudly and other times softly, but always with the same message: we are all done seeing stories about us told this way. We can’t stop stories like this from existing, but we can stop powerful corporations from profiting off them. We have learned how to hit corporate America where its pitiful, Grinch-like heart that’s two times too small lives: right in its wallet.

We’ve harnessed boycotts and strikes.

We’ve organized global no-spends.

We’ve found alternatives to every godforsaken brand that uses our bodies as billboards and our traumas to boost ratings.

And we are succeeding.

Sometimes, it’s important to make much of the “small” wins. Having a misogynistic alpha-bro potentially kicked off his own show is a small win, I’ll grant that. But its significance in the broader picture is enormous.

Let’s celebrate that!

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

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