Polygamy is about to hit TV again in a new reality series. This time, the secretive, wealthy Kingston family, a Salt Lake City-based polygamous group, will find itself at the mercy of a camera crew in Escaping Polygamy, which debuts Tuesday, July 14 on the Lifetime Movie Network (LMN).
The Kingstons have largely escaped media scrutiny since the mid-2000s, when allegations of child abuse and subsequent court drama dominated the headlines.
Up until now, the leading polygamy reality show has been Sister Wives, which has taken a largely family drama/soap opera approach to plural marriage.
In 2011, the Brown family, which stars in Sister Wives, sued Utah over its ban on polygamy. Critics of polygamy generally agree that federal judge Clark Waddoup's December 2013 decision in what became known as "The Sister Wives' case" striking down part of Utah's anti-polygamy law as unconstitutional, essentially legalized polygamy in Utah. As such, voices against polygamy and those seeking to highlight the plight of children raised in secretive communities have few media or other platforms from which to address their concerns.
Escaping Polygamy is a documentary series following three sisters who fled their lives in "the Order"—the Kingstons' name for their clan—and are now trying to help others do the same. The sisters, Andrea, Jessica and Shannell left the Order 10 years ago.
Reviewing the first episode, it's not clear whether Escaping Polygamy will attempt to balance media coverage on the subject of polygamy or simply to mine some of the extraordinary day-to-day drama that some polygamous communities and both current and former members experience in their struggles to live with their group, or whether to leave, or return to the Order.