Title

Escaping the Perils of Sensationalist Television Reduction

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-1-2019

Publisher

University of California Press

Abstract

Mormon polygamy has become a popular subject for contemporary reality television shows. TLC’s polygamy reality shows center around Mormon polygamist families from the families’ points of view. In contrast from these, Lifetime/A&E Networks’ Escaping Polygamy (2014–) centers around three twenty-something ex-members of a Mormon fundamentalist sect known as the Kingston group. The show depicts the ex-members as heroines who rescue other young adults as they are leaving Mormon polygamist sects. In this article, Escaping Polygamy is interpreted as an “atrocity tale” that relies on a history of moral panic around Mormon polygamy and perpetuates reductive stereotypes about Mormon fundamentalist groups. After an evaluation depending on content analysis of the series and informal interviews with key individuals represented on the series, this article explores the possible damage Escaping Polygamy causes for Mormon polygamist sects and even the young adults shown leaving the groups.

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