Rockland Ranch in Utah is home to a self-sufficient, Mormon community who live peacefully and religiously together. Channel 4's documentary focuses on two polygamist families to explore if multiple marriage can really function in 21st Century America whilst we watch from behind the sofa.
By Telly's Gone Wrong @tellyswrong
Every now and then, a television programme comes along that questions your morals and challenges your accepted approach to life and society. A programme that confronts the values and conventions that you have long recognised as normative principles and beliefs, holds up a mirror to your convictions and forces you to ask yourself if your personal ethos can ever be fundamentally ‘right’.
That programme is Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule.
Meanwhile, on Channel 4, there’s a pile of poo called Three Wives One Husband, and it’s all about loonies.
Probably the funniest show in the West End at the moment, ‘The Book of Mormon’ satirises, not only the Mormon faith but, by and large, any religion that blindly follows rulebook that compels it’s followers to adopt a belief system that places them in denial of any progressive human development, causing them to be set apart from society due to a dogmatic set of principles that give them a baseless and, largely, illusory perception of how best to live in this world whilst preparing for a journey to another place after death. What ‘Mormon’ does, however, is allow people of faith to laugh at the concept of a strange and oppressive dogma, whilst maintaining, from their point of view that, ‘it’s not actually like that, but it’s funny that some people think it is.’
What ‘Three Wives One Husband’ does, on the other hand, is get right up close to the creed and say, ‘this is what it’s actually like, run for your life!’
In it we meet Enoch Foster, husband to Catrina and Lilian and father to their 16 children. They live in a remote fundamentalist Mormon community called Rockland Ranch in Utah set up about 35 years ago and accept polygamy as legitimate method of populating the community with as many new members as the available number of wombs will feasibly allow. Indeed, Enoch, who prides himself on his fertility, stamina, athleticism and ability to remember names, has recently started courting a 25-year old Nanny (which is probably the only occupation available to unattached females in Utah) called Lydia Rose. He sees her as the ideal addition to the Foster clan based upon her experience with children, her full set of white teeth and her firm yet supple body which could, in all probability, squeeze out another seven or eight new Fosters before she’s 45. You can tell he likes her, because he’s already blasted a hole in the rock face where he will build her own dwelling.
I haven’t seen this much romance since Fred and Wilma got together. The courtship involves plenty of family time with him, the children and, more especially, the existing Mrs Foster’s with whom she spends a lot of time smiling, holding hands and being told how wonderful she is. Actually, it’s mainly Catrina who does Lydia Rose’s ego-massaging being, as she is, the oldest of the harem and the one who is the most battle-weary from all the Enoch-action. Wife number 2, Lilian, was more in need of attention as she had recently given birth to their latest addition, a girl called either Listerine or Amphetamine (I couldn’t hear above noise in the delivery room caused by nine of the other children, first wife Catrina and Lydia Rose, who Enoch had invited along on a date). Lilian smiled bravely as she spoke of the threat she perceived Lydia Rose presented to her own personal Enoch-time. She had good reason to feel this way as, just over the garden fence, live the Morrison’s.
Abel Morrison seems a personable chap. As a postal worker he leaves the community every morning to work in the real world but returns at night to Rockland where his training as a mailman enables him to remember at which of his three residences he last delivered. Although he exceeds Enoch’s wife collection to the tune of one, he trails him in in terms of fruitfulness by about five. I say ‘about five’ because it’s difficult to pin down the exact number of sprogs in the Foster household, research has yielded answers between 13 and 17 but all agree that Abe’s head count of Junior Morrison’s number a paltry 11. However, third wife Marina is about to produce number 12 so they may, one day, catch up with the Fosters. Unless, of course, Enoch knocks-up his nanny.
Marina, however, is not exactly blooming. Heavy with child, she seems less than ecstatic to receive Abe’s rotational visit. He’s popped in for a quick cuddle before going out on date-night with Mrs. Morrison #1, Susie, whom he describes a ‘sassy’. Marina feels about as sassy as a hippopotamus with haemorrhoids as she stands with stomach distended, boobs aching and a look in her eyes that suggests that she didn’t sign up for this when she took the well-worn track down the aisle into Abe’s arms. She tries to voice her insecurities to Abe but she couldn’t really have picked a worse time because their table is booked for seven-thirty and sassy Susie is outside smiling sweetly. Poor Abe, he’s enough on his plate with the impending Christmas rush that will inevitably put the Utah postal service under immense pressure, without his third wife getting all hormonal because she’s 8 months pregnant and baby-sitting his 11 other kids while he takes his second wife out for a romantic meal for two before spending the night in her bed. Still, broads, huh? Whadaya gotta do?
In the end, it’s hard to know where you actually stand with all this. Although the polygamy sounds intrinsically wrong, it’s not the only thing that this community is about. They teach love and equality and respect for religion and each other’s views and opinions, the trouble being that love appears to be expressed in a spectacularly irreligious fashion and equality often means equal quantity, rather than equal quality. The first episode ended with Enoch left in limbo by Lydia Rose who was taking time out to decide if she could handle the challenges that come with being a third wife. One look over the garden fence at Marina Morrison may have told her all she needed to know.
Episode two will be shown on Thursday.
This review also appears on https://tellysgonewrong.blogspot.co.uk/