It’s not rare to find mixed opinions when it comes to reality TV, but if there’s something we all surely agree on, it’s how the genre never fails to bring out topics that otherwise would never be talked about in the media.
Such is the case of “Sister Wives”, the TLC series featuring Kody Brown and his four wives Robyn, Meri, Christine and Janelle. Though the show obviously caused a lot of controversy when it first aired in 2010, the audience quickly warmed up to it, thanks to the fascinating relationship of the polygamous family’s members, their dynamics and interesting lifestyle.
Knowing you also have a soft spot for the Browns but haven’t been able to keep up to date with them, we are going to tell you all about the family’s whereabouts, who of them have unfortunately passed away, and the most recent scandals they’ve faced. So keep with us to discover everything!
Who Has Died In “Sister Wives”?
The most recent tragedy the Brown family has had to face is the passing of Meri’s mother, Bonnie Ahlstrom, in March 2021 at 76 years of age. Bonnie’s cause of death is unknown to date, though Meri admitted that losing her mother had been ‘unexpected and extremely way too soon, and I literally don’t know how I’m going to do the rest of my life without her’, she wrote in a heartfelt and sad Instagram post. Prior to losing her mother, Meri had already lost her father and two siblings.
The following months after Bonnie’s death, Meri often shared posts on social media to honor her mother’s memory. It was especially heart-warming to know Meri and her two sisters re-utilized Bonnie’s favorite shirts to sew memory bears for her grandkids, who apparently loved them a lot when receiving them at Christmas: ‘now they all have a special memory, and way to get a Grandma hug when they need it!’, as Meri wrote.
Shortly before Meri’s mother died, Janelle’s mother Sheryl Brown had unfortunately passed away, on 7 December 2020. As many viewers of “Sister Wives” might remember, the late woman was often featured in the show for not only being Kody’s mother-in-law, but also his step-mother, as Sheryl was married to his father Winn.
Though Sheryl had been seriously ill for a while, her passing still took her family by surprise. As seen on a video recorded by Janelle right after her mother’s death in Wyoming, earlier that year Sheryl was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, but despite Janelle’s efforts to take care of her in her house in Arizona, Sheryl’s health quickly spiraled , and made her transportation from Wyoming impossible.
Despite the suddenness of it all, the fact that Janelle was fortunate to spend Sheryl’s last days with her was definitely comforting during those hard times: ‘I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the many small miracles that happened that allowed my sister and I to be with her at the end’, she wrote on her Instagram.
Although Janelle’s husband Kody attended the funeral, he warded his other wives Meri and Robyn off from doing so, considering it risky for their health due to COVID-19.
Just like his wives, Kody Brown has also gone through difficult losses in recent years. In August 2013, his father Winn passed away at 78 years of age. Loyal viewers of “Sister Wives” surely remember Winn well from the show’s second season, when the Brown family visited him on his Wyoming property Double Dollar Ranch, where the family had lived since 1970.
Winn’s cause of death is unknown, but he seemed to have an overall good life. His youth was spent between being a parashooter for the Army Rangers and serving the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. He was a graduate of Agricultural Economics, and had married Kody’s mother Genielle.
Though Kody mourned his father away from social media, Meri commemorated Winn’s death by her heartfelt description of him as an ‘old cowboy goin’ home, ridin’ off into the sunset, & exploring the green pastures on the other side’, as she wrote on Twitter.
Winn was the father of 10 children, a product of his polygamist marriage with Genielle, Bobbie and Sheryl.
Only a couple of months before Winn Brown’s death, Kody’s brother Curtis was killed in a motorcycle crash. The unfortunate news was revealed by Kody on Twitter, and condolences were soon to come from “Sister Wives” viewers, who had actually got to know Curtis from his appearance in the show’s third season episode “Brown Boys Do Vegas”, in which he, Kody and brothers Michael and Scott, were seen spending quality time while on a bike trip to Nevada.
Unlike Kody and his other brothers, Curtis was a monogamist: ‘Marriage is beautiful, but I wouldn’t do it with four women.
I just need a simple relationship’, as he stated, remarking how he perceived polygamy as a ‘complicated’ lifestyle, which fitted Kody better. Curtis was still known in his community for his strong faith, and will to help the less fortunate.
Curtis was 34 years old, and was survived by his wife Erica Bush Brown and three children.
Why Did Kody and Christine Split?
Marriages in the entertainment world rarely last, unfortunately. However, seeing the Brown’s family’s strong will to follow their polygamist lifestyle, and how their dynamic always seemed to work so well, for many people it was shocking to see Christine walking away from her marriage to Kody after 25 years together, and from her sisterhood.
Loyal viewers of “Sister Wives” knew that problem between Christine and Kody existed long before the split. Early in 2021, Christine told US Weekly that she found polygamy beneficial for allowing her to spend quality time alone, or with her sister wives, without ‘having a guy around all the time’.
However, in the same interview, she admitted that despite the pleasantries of such a lifestyle, sometimes she felt as if she wasn’t ‘an equal partner’ in the relationship, compared to the other wives.
The relationship hit rock bottom when the physical distance between Kody and her strengthened due to the COVID-19 restrictions Kody made the family follow, which confirmed her decision to move to Utah alone: ‘I never wanted the kind of marriage that I have now. I never wanted to be estranged and have extremely limited physical contact’, she admitted in the show, not long before the pair made their separation public late that year.
Christine’s Life In Utah
As the audience of “Sister Wives” remembers well, in 2018 the Brown family relocated to Arizona, after living in Utah for decades.
Though at first sight the move seemed pleasing for everyone, the truth is that Christine was particularly overwhelmed by the big changes in her life, which only worsened as her negative feelings regarding her role in the family increased: ‘I’m just tired. I need a partnership. I need something different than this’, she admitted during “Sister Wives” 15th season’s finale.
Displeased with her situation, added to her struggles adapting to her new life in Flagstaff, Christine sold her Arizona house for $700,000, shortly after her separation from Kody was made public. Christine now lives with her youngest daughter Truley in a Utah duplex, which reportedly cost $1.1 million, and is in the same neighborhood that her daughter Aspyn lives in. This is probably the perfect arrangement for the family, considering that Christine and Kody agreed not to cut ties, and to spend equal time with their children.
As Christine affirmed on her social media, the many recent changes to her life have been positive for apparently making her gain ‘more energy, mental clarity, and weight loss’.
Did Meri Left Kody Too?
Although the spiritual union between Meri and Kody Brown is still in place, their relationship has apparently been going through difficulties for quite some time.
As many “Sister Wives” viewers know, Kody and Meri were married from 1990 to 2014, when Kody legally divorced her to marry Robyn, though the romantic union between him and Meri didn’t end. Nonetheless, while many believe that divorcing was what definitely cracked their relationship, in an episode aired in 2020, Kody affirmed strangely that ever since the start of their marriage, he’d felt like not knowing who he was married to, due to the lack of communication between them: ‘I feel like I was deceived into a relationship that was very different than what I expected’.
Those old problems might explain why the couple’s divorce was followed by a catfishing scandal, involving Meri and her online boyfriend “Sam”, who was actually a female scammer named Jackie Overton.
While Kody affirmed the incident was ‘just a wake-up call’ to make him aware of their problems, since then their relationship worsened to the point that they didn’t celebrate their 30th anniversary, and Kody publicly admitted that ‘the spark’ was missing between them. Though both have shut down the possibility of a definitive separation, those rumors only become stronger after Christine left Kody.
Are Janelle and Kody Still Together?
Janelle and Kody are still together as a couple, but just like his union with Meri, things between him and his second wife appear to be strained as of late.
As seen in “Sister Wives” 16th season aired in late 2021, Kody’s restrictions to protect the Browns from being infected by COVID-19 caused arguments related to their sons Garrison’s and Gabriel’s social life, and her own displeasure with Kody’s protocols.
As if the situation didn’t appear tense enough when Janelle walked out of a conversation with Kody, after accusing him of ‘guilt tripping’, Kody later stated that she’d been ‘disloyal’ to him for not spending Christmas with the rest of the family: ‘Janelle is indicating by her actions that she’d rather have (her sons) around than me’.
All of these issues led Janelle to reflect on her union with Kody, and plural marriages in general, affirming how it would have been easy to give up on her relationship, given their current situation: ‘My children are almost grown and there’s not a huge necessity anymore to stay’, though she also remains hopeful of sorting out not only her problems with Kody, but also to fix the tense ambient within the family.
What Happened To Ysabel?
While the continued recent drama between Kody and his four wives is the main focus of “Sister Wives”, some of the family’s children have been facing their own personal battles too.
As the show’s audience knows, Christine and Kody’s daughter Ysabel was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 15 years old. Deciding against a surgery back then seemed like the right choice in order to let her enjoy her teens as much as she could, but her health continued to worsen to the point where Ysabel’s spine had a curvature of over 50% at one point.
Ysabel’s chronic pain, added to the restrictions related to COVID-19, made her trips to New Jersey for surgery a hardly viable goal. Nonetheless, in late 2020 Ysabel finally underwent her necessary back surgery, and recovered well from it, as seen in the regular updates she posts about the topic on her social media.
What Happened To Evie?
While Kody and Janelle’s daughter Maddie Brown is fortunately alright, her youngest daughter Evie has already faced some challenges when it comes to her health.
Although Maddie lives in North Carolina, and stays away from the drama her family is often involved with, the show’s most loyal fans have been closely following her baby Evie’s struggles with the Hecht Scott syndrome, a disease which has affected the formation of her limbs. As Maddie revealed on her social media, Evie’s leg was amputated to prevent her from suffering severe problems related to the disease, as she grows up.
Though some people considered the procedure too severe, Maddie and her husband Caleb consulted many specialists before allowing their daughter go through such drastic surgery. Fortunately, Evie’s condition has been improving, and as seen on her mother’s social media, the baby girl has learned to walk with her prosthetic leg in the following months after the procedure.
Despite receiving a lot of positive criticism from its audience, “Sister Wives” also faces its own share of negative reviews and scandals. The main argument against the show is definitely its focus on plural relationships, but it extends beyond that. While the family’s ties with religion are considered downplayed by the show, their connection to Utah is also not well seen by some people, as it allegedly negatively affects the perception of the state: ‘this show might cause alarm in terms of how the rest of the country sees us’, Professor Christine Seifert told Salt Lake Tribune.
While it’s obvious “Sisters Wives” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the fact that the show has been successfully maintained its audience while airing for so long, means that a lot of people appreciate the Brown family, regardless of any latent bias and prejudices.