Polygamy, USA TV Poster Image

Polygamy, USA



Inside look at plural marriage community, without sex talk.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The doctrine of plural marriage is presented as an acceptable practice for those who choose it, as long as it is between adults, and solicited by women. The group's religious teachings are discussed. God, family, hard work, and education are all themes.

Positive role models

The group is a patriarchal community, and the husbands are ultimately in charge of the family, but women take active roles in lobbying for the decriminalization of polygamy. Young women are taught by their mothers to be good wives and moms, while young men are mentored to be upstanding men who respect women while upholding the tenants of the church. Leaders encourage, but do not force, young people into plural marriage.


Physical discipline, like throwing a boot at someone, is viewed as an acceptable way of teaching young people the right way to behave. The death of a family member/community leader due to illness is discussed. The fear of persecution for their lifestyle is also mentioned.


The show mentions that plural marriage is not for for sexual gratification. Spending the night with different wives and having babies is discussed.


Words like "damn," "crap," "piss," and "hell" are audible. Words like "s--t" are bleeped.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking alcohol in moderation is acceptable for this community, but missionary men are expected to abstain from alcohol and other addictive substances. Wine consumption, shots, and beer is occasionally consumed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Polygamy, USA follows the lives of a fundamentalist Mormon community living in an openly polygamist community with the purpose of challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about the lifestyle. Marriage, as well as the process of selecting mates and negotiating sleeping/cohabitating arrangements, is a major part of the series. Expect a bit of cursing and some physical discipline directed at younger community members.

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What's the story?

POLYGAMY, USA is a docuseries that follows three polygamist families living their lives openly in Centennial Park City, Arizona. Patriarchs Isaiah Thompson, Michael Cawley, and community leader Arthur Hammon open their homes and their lives to viewers to let people see what their fundamentalist Mormon lifestyle is like with their multiple wives and children. Cameras also follow some of Centennial Park's day-to-day operations, church services, and community-wide events celebrated by the openly-polygamous town. Throughout it all, they show viewers how their religion dictates their way of life, and how faith-based plural marriage functions as a way of practicing what they believe.

Is it any good?


The overall purpose of Polygamy, USA is to dispel many of the negative stereotypes that surround the polygamist lifestyle, due -- in part -- to the media attention it has received over the years. The people featured here, many of whom made appearances on TV shows like Our America with Lisa Ling and The Oprah Winfrey Show, clearly note that their members do not marry until they are at least 18, and are expected to earn a high school education before doing so. They also underscore that this lifestyle is a choice, and that no one is forced to enter into it. 

The series is informative, thanks to discussions about the group's specific faith-based doctrines about baptism, death, and of course, plural marriage. It also reveals some of the patriarchal community's interesting history and cultural traditions, like practicing placement marriage (marrying someone you barely know), expecting women to prepare for and find/choose the man they will wed, and mentoring the young priested (ordained) work missionaries of the community while they wait for a woman to choose them. But the show also underscores their beliefs about having the right to practice the lifestyle that they choose to live, which continues to be illegal in all 50 states.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way the media presents people who live a polygamist lifestyle. What are some of the stereotypes surrounding plural marriage? Do you think this series will diffuse some of these generalizations?

  • How is this community able to live openly as polygamists if it is illegal? Do you think appearing on this series will encourage government leaders to make this lifestyle legal?

TV details

Premiere date:May 7, 2013
Cast:Arthur Hammon, Isaiah Thompson, Michael Cawley
Network:National Geographic Channel
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bylucidreams318 June 5, 2013

Are you Freakin' KIDDING ME?

I heartily disagree with this reviewer's characterization that there is a positive side to a polygamous lifestyle that is not negated by its negatives. Firstly, even though she characterizes polygamy as a "choice", how can an 18 year old girl be expected to make any other choice regarding marriage when "the lifestyle" is all that she has really been exposed to? How much exposure to normal marriage situations does this reviewer suppose these girls have had? Second, this reviewer is not taking into account that "the lifestyle" causes young boys to be cast out because since there are many women for one man, some boys must be got rid of so that there isn't so much competition for the attentions of the girls. Third, what about the girls born in Centennial Park who may not be able to bear children? What is their purpose? Where do THEY fit in? Built in babysitters, maybe? Fourth, what are the boys who are on their "missions" being payed? Does it occur to the reviewer that they go unpaid so that "the brethren" can continue to make a profit using cheap labor and so that normal municipal services (which require taxes) are not needed? Fifth, does it occur to the reviewer that Colorado City and Centennial Park are basically only separated by a couple of miles and that they are BOTH fundamentalist Mormons?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bymuddlepuddle May 22, 2013

Great show, I watched with my kids!

I loved the show!! It really gave you an open minded look into something very miss-understood. Also helped me to realize that there is more than one polygamist group out there, and that they are just normal people trying to live normal lives...in their own way. I found it fascinating!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing