If there's anything we Americans love to watch on any given evening, it's a good few hours of reality TV. And if there's anything reality TV loves — just look at the success of Sister Wives, Seeking Sister Wife, My Fives Wives and most recently, TLC's Three Wives One Husband, which just arrived to Netflix — it's watching how polygamy plays out in the world.
Perhaps it's something to do with the voyeuristic glance that the earlier aughts gave us in shows such as HBO's Big Love, though if you ask Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project, the increasing popularity of polygamy has something to do with "an increasingly libertarian or laissez-faire view that many younger Americans take toward sex, marriage, and family life."
Where is Three Wives One Husband filmed?
In any case, Three Wives One Husband has just arrived to Netflix in its documentary 4-episode glory and is ready to be binged. Producers followed different families in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Rockland Ranch for a year, where 15 or so polygamist families all live in homes literally carved into the side of a massive sandstone rock.
Aptly nicknamed "The Rock," this area was founded about 40 years ago in an effort to bring the polygamist community of Moab, Utah together and embrace their shared practice of plural marriage.
Episode 1 centers on the largest family at The Rock, Enoch Foster's, where 16 children are currently running amuck and a 17th is soon on its way.
So who is Enoch Foster and what does he do for a living?
When we meet Enoch, he has two wives, Catrina, Enoch's "childhood sweetheart," and pregnant Lillian, who joined the family after Catrina and Enoch had already been together eight years. And though you'd think he has his hands full with two ladies and soon-to-be 17 children, Enoch is eager to take a third wife, Lydia Rose, into the family.
Which begs the question: Is Enoch loaded? After all, and not to get too geography-y, many countries around the world practice polygamy in only the wealthiest families, as the suggestion alone presupposes that a husband can single-handedly take care of as many wives as he takes. And by take care, the husband better do way more than just scrape by.
But that doesn't seem to be the case in Moab's The Rock community, where "Enoch and his wives earn a living running the community's building project," as the show's narrator states. As it were, Enoch's own dad Bob Foster, found this rock some 40 years ago and has been carving his vision of a Christian community into this 500-foot-high rock ever since.
Other people who live at The Rock, meanwhile, have ordinary jobs, the narrator adds. But for Enoch, who returned to The Rock when he saw that his dad's ideal community was dying some 15 years ago, a typical day-to-day consists of building and remodeling projects, in which he essentially tries to develop better ways to inhabit a rock.
What about the wives? What do they do for a living?
Fans of the Fosters might remember that it was Catrina who initially suggested another woman join the family, because she found her husband had so much love to give, she couldn't take it all herself. "I found myself wanting to let somebody else have the opportunity to share that, to share that experience," she said at the beginning of the show. For believers of the Mormon faith, polygamy, or plural marriages, as they seem to prefer to call it, is a lifestyle one has to be called to.
"We're really, really strong on preaching to people not to have polygamy," Lillian said in an interview with the Denver Post. "We don't think most people should do it. You have to be called to it." When she initially entered the family, eight years after Catrina, she mentioned "it was definitely a challenge coming into an established family but I would way, way rather have a piece of a really good man than a whole man who wasn't as good."
"It's a lot of work for a man," said Enoch. "Plural marriage requires a great deal of giving." On the show, Enoch works side by side with wives Catrina and Lillian. Lydia Rose, who he's in the process of courting on the show, would become more of a domestic wife, and it sounds like that's the way Catrina and Lillian want it as well. "Let's try convincing her that she needs to be the cooking wife," they say to each other in the first episode.
What happened to Enoch's son and is Enoch getting arrested?
It's been a sad couple of years for the Fosters since their episode of Three Wives One Husband first hit the air. First, Adonijah Foster, the baby Lillian was pregnant with at the beginning of the episode, whose birth is later televised, died tragically in a Rockland Ranch house fire last April. Adonijah was Enoch's 17th son, though the father now has 20.
Since producers wrapped their year-long filming in Rockland Ranch, Utah also passed an anti-bigamy law making it illegal for anyone to live with a purported spouse while legally married to someone else. The punishment is a sentence of five to ten years in prison, and according to iHeartRadio, the family is now afraid they'll have to move or hide. Which is the opposite of what they wanted to do with the show, which was raise awareness and show the world what it's like inside their pluralist community.
Three Wives One Husband is currently streaming on Netflix.