If you think it’s hard enough finding that perfect gift for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, imagine finding that special something for more than 20 significant others. This Valentine’s Day National Geographic Channel gives viewers an intimate look into the lives of a fundamentalist Mormon polygamist community in Bountiful, British Columbia, with “Inside Polygamy: Life at Bountiful.”
In the early 20th century, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) split from the mainline Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints over the practice known as “the principle,” the belief that “plural marriage and siring dozens of children will help guarantee entrance into the highest of Heavens,” which is still practiced by an estimated 10,000 people across the United States and Canada. Winston Blackmore, patriarch of the Bountiful community, gave producers unprecedented access to his family of more than 20 wives and 100 children and the result is surprising in a number of ways.
Aside from the polygamy, they seemed rather normal, discussing everything from what to cook a gaggle of kids for dinner to which cell phone plan to chose; a real life “Big Love” indeed.
But perhaps most surprising was the forthrightness of Blackmore, his wives, and his children. They spoke easily and openly about their clan’s split with the Warren Jeffs led FLDS church, about the challenges associated with their lifestyle (both emotional and practical), and about their own legal troubles. Very inside baseball information from a usually secretive sect. To top it off, viewers are allowed to attend the wedding of Blackmore’s fifth son who is having a typical “worldly” wedding and who, it is presumed, will stay in a monogamous marriage.
Blackmore’s clan offers a very different picture than the images of the 2008 Texas Child Protective Services raid on the YFZ Ranch in Texas, where more than 439 children were taken into custody after allegations of systemic child abuse were lodged against the church’s de facto leader Warren Jeffs, who is now serving ten years to life in prison. But the story isn’t just told from the Blackmore clan’s perspective as it is complemented by background from historians, opinions of anti-plural marriage activists and others in a balanced and informative way that National Geographic does so well.
Looking to work your way up to polygamy? Then discover the many different forms love takes–from men who adore their life size dolls to child marriage in Nepal–when the channel explores “Taboo: Strange Love.”
“Inside Polygamy: Life at Bountiful” airs Sunday, February 14 at 6:00 p.m. on National Geographic Channel with “Taboo: Strange Love ” preceding at 5:00 p.m. ET.