Acceptance of Polygamy Is at a Record High, and TV Might Explain Why

Acceptance of Polygamy Is at a Record High, and TV Might Explain Why

‘Sister Wives’ could be tied to why more people are OK with a multiple-spouse lifestyle.

Polygamy wedding cake.

Gallup polling on American values and beliefs in May found acceptance of a person having multiple spouses at one time has grown in the U.S., but pinning down the exact cause of the trend is tricky.

Support for polygamy in the United States is at an all-time high, and Americans’ love for TV may be one explanation for the trend.

Gallup polling on American values and beliefs in May found acceptance of a person having multiple spouses at one time has grown in the U.S., with 17 percent of people saying the practice is “morally acceptable.” That number marked the highest rate on record dating back to 2003, according to Gallup data.

Pinning down the exact cause of the trend is tricky, as Gallup notes it’s coincided with a general increase in liberal views on social issues like same-sex relationships and premarital sex, but hasn’t come with a correspondingly permissive legal shift on the issue. Polygamy, in fact, is illegal in all 50 states.

However, Andrew Dugan, an analyst with Gallup, also notes TV programming within the last decade or so started to feature polygamist characters. Perhaps most notable has been the TLC show “Sister Wives.”

Gallup has seen U.S. support for polygamy rise by almost 10 percentage points over the time “Sister Wives” has been on the air, according to Dugan, though he cautions “it is impossible to establish any direct causality between the show and changing attitudes.”

Still, it wouldn’t be the first time TV has been referenced as a possible reason for Americans’ changing social views.

Former Vice President Joe Biden famously mentioned sitcom”Will & Grace,” which featured multiple gay characters, as a reason behind why he thinks American attitudes have shifted on gay rights.

“I think ‘Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far,” Biden said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

And TV touching the political realm doesn’t end there.

Today, it often makes its way into discussions about President Donald Trump, with many pointing to Trump’s reported interest in cable TV news shows.

Emmy-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and star of HBO’s “Veep,” for one, has said Trump’s election “scratches a deep itch for me to satirize or be funny about something that maybe doesn’t seem funny at all.”