'Polygamy, USA' to Premiere May 7 on National Geographic Channel

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

May 1st, 2013

Polygamy USA

via press release:

“Religion Isn’t a Part of Our Life. Religion Is Our Life”




New Series “Polygamy, USA” Premieres Tuesday, May 7, at 9 PM ET/PT


(WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 1, 2013) — From the outside, Centennial Park, Ariz., appears to be like many other small towns. Families struggle to keep food on the table; sons and daughters rebel against the strict rules of their parents; women fight feelings of jealousy in their relationships; and elders worry the new generation of youth doesn’t respect the traditions of the past. But what makes this town different is that it is a tight-knit community of Fundamentalist Mormons who openly participate in polygamy, a sacred principle of their faith and an expression of their fight for religious freedom.


“Polygamy, USA,” premiering Tuesday, May 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel, for the first time goes inside the daily lives of families in this community committed wholeheartedly to their faith—even if it means they break the law. For more information on the series, visit www.ngcpr.com or follow us at @NGC_PR.


“For more than ten years the National Geographic Channel has been taking viewers inside the lives of ‘outliers,’ people whose way of life strays from what many consider the norm,” said Alan Eyres, SVP of programming and development for the National Geographic Channel. “But be they preppers or polygamists, they are people, with incredible stories that help us further open a window to the world.”


It’s a lifestyle with a history that goes back generations, but one they must protect not only from outside scrutiny but also the evolving attitudes of each new generation. Some show they are committed to the way of life they’ve been taught, while others push back on the norms they’ve grown up with. It’s a fascinating look at a way of life that can be difficult to understand, while also surprisingly familiar.


But plural marriage is just one part of the story in “Polygamy, USA.” Throughout, viewers are given an inside look at the rituals of this fundamentalist group, including morning prayer meetings, Sunday services, baptisms and funerals.


The community’s elders strive to ensure that outside influences of the world do not distract the younger generation from maintaining these traditions, an immense challenge given the curious stares and whispers often endured when they venture outside the community. For old and new members, sacrifices must be made and middle ground found in order for the town to survive.


The series focuses on three different polygamous families and one of the community’s single young men:


Arthur Hammon is one of the founding fathers of Centennial Park. He helped build the town 30 years ago after he and others separated with a nearby community over a religious dispute.

Arthur now heads up the Centennial Park missionary program, a volunteer army of young, single men that labor for the community. As the leader of this group, Arthur seeks to guide these young men to center themselves before they become leaders of their own plural families. “If the kids decide, okay, I don’t want a part of it, okay,” says Arthur. “They are agents unto themselves. We don’t believe in slavery.” But Arthur can’t help but be troubled by one young man who has chosen to forge his own path: his son, Ezra.


Hyrum Burton is one of Arthur’s missionaries. Though for many, service lasts only two years, Hyrum has served for nearly four. While he’s anxious to finish and move on to marriage, he also believes he must wait until that time is ordained by God. He reflects, “If I follow these rules, you know, maybe I can bring myself to a point in my character growth where the Lord will bless me with a woman.” In the meantime, he organizes athletic competitions and participates in community social events, waiting to see if his interactions with young women in the community will lead one of them to select him for a husband – here, their faith instructs them that God tells women, not men, whom to marry.


Isaiah Thomson is a sixth-generation polygamist with two young wives and five young children. “As early as I can remember, I wanted to live the faith,” he says. His wives Marleen and Becca cope with feelings of jealousy toward each other, but truly believe that they are where God wants them to be. With so many mouths to feed, Isaiah is often forced to leave for weeks at a time for work, leaving the women at home alone to care for the family. But despite these struggles, they plan on having more children and look forward to the possibility of a third wife entering the family.


Michael Cawley, like many others, works hard at marriage—it just so happens he has three wives and 18 children. “People may ask, is it possible to love three women all at once,” he says. “Yes, I can love more than one woman. Genuinely, truly love.” These days he is most concerned with his eldest daughter, Rose Marie, who has reached the age where she can be married, but has not received her sign from God. With encouragement from her father and three mothers, Rose Marie works hard to prepare herself for the responsibilities of marriage, while also praying for a name of her future husband.


Premiere episodes include:


Polygamy, USA: Meet the Polygamists

Tuesday, May 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT

What does it mean to be a practicing polygamist in America today? Nearly 30 years ago, a group of polygamists formed their own community in Arizona called Centennial Park. Among the town's nearly 1500 residents are people at different points in their religious journey, starting with young unmarried men in the town's mission program. Isaiah is in his thirties with two wives and five young children, struggling to keep his young family afloat financially while also looking forward to the possibility of another wife. Forty-four-year-old Michael Cawley has three wives and 18 children, the oldest of whom is preparing herself for her own plural family. Finally, Ezra, son of the leader of the mission program, has chosen independence over the strict teachings of his family. As the years go by, the survival of Centennial Park rests in the passing of traditions from one generation to the next.


Polygamy, USA: The Winter Ball

Tuesday, May 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Living in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Centennial Park, young men and women do not have many opportunities to socialize together. That changes when the town holds its New Year’s Eve celebration. Arthur puts his missionary boys to work decorating the hall and cutting down the trees that will be the centerpiece of the celebration. When the hard work is done, the boys, including Hyrum, put on their best airs for the single women in the community. The oldest Cawley daughter, Rose Marie, is nervous to attend the ball. She’s been waiting to receive her inspiration from God about whom she should marry, and the ball provides another opportunity—if she can get over her shyness. While the rest of the community prepares for the ball, the Thomson home is preparing for the return of the husband, Isaiah, who has been away working for five weeks. It’s Becca’s turn to pick him up in Las Vegas and spend a night away from home while Marleen stays home with the family’s five kids. It’s another challenge for the young women who must balance feelings of jealousy, duty and faith.


Polygamy, USA: The Baptism

Tuesday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT

In the polygamous community of Centennial Park everything is about growth—children, families, even the town itself. But, with growth, comes plenty of growing pains. The Cawley household is preparing 8-year-old Fiona for baptism, a major crossroads in her spiritual journey and one that has never before been filmed. As part of their family tradition, she will be baptized after demonstrating a thorough understanding of the tenets of their Mormon faith. Arthur accompanies his son, Ezra, to Salt Lake City to recover the broken-down truck Ezra purchased against his father’s wishes. It’s a tense road trip as both attempt to navigate the rift that has grown between them. One of Arthur’s missionaries, Hyrum, shows off his leadership skills by organizing a basketball tournament. He hopes it will serve two purposes: showing the town’s Brethren that he’s ready to lead a family, and possibly impressing some young women.


Polygamy, USA is produced by Part2 Pictures, LLC for the National Geographic Channel. For Part2, Gregory Henry, Amy Bucher, and Kimberly Woodard are executive producers and Brian Lovett is co-executive producer. For NGC, Stephanie Buxbaum is executive producer, Lynn Sadofsky is VP of production and development, Alan Eyres is SVP of programming and development, and Michael Cascio is the executive in charge of production.




About National Geographic Channels

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 38 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.


  • Al Pratt

    When the mainstream Mormon church says they have nothing to do with polygamy, they would be more honest if they added, “not any more” and “not at this time.” Mainstream Mormon doctrine defends its early polygamy as God-mandated, allows for multiple wives in the hereafter, suggests that God may be a polygamist, and reserves God’s right to reinstate polygamy if and should He so please. The book “It’s Not About the Sex My A**” by ex-polygamist wife Joanne Hanks does a good job explaining much of that. (Google the title, it’s an enjoyable read and easy to find.) Also read the Doctrine and Covenants (which the Mormons regard as scripture), Section 132; it is the original “revelation” to Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith wherein God states that taking multiple wives is a commandment.

  • Curly

    Arthur Hammon is creepy and the first vibe he gave off was molester. How many of these missionary boys are getting more than just coaching from him? The way he looked at them was very creepy and he was very disrespectful towards them and his own son. Didn’t care for him at all. This is just a brainwashed cult!

  • Brenda parks

    Why is this being allowed ? , dose Arizona have different laws ? The parents of these young girls should be held accountable along with the men who are breaking the law. Why should this community be allowed to practice polygamy .they are breaking the law . How is this being allowed?.?.

  • Sakamoto

    Although I personally don’t agree with the polygamist lifestyle because it seems to lead to serious problems for the youth–(i.e. too many boys often times means “bye-bye” and apparently from time to time older men get married to younger girls), I do find it very odd that so many people frown on ADULTS of legal age living a polygamist lifestyle when the rest of mainstream American society tends to be okay with adults committing adultery, marriage partners cheating on their spouses, or even the tens of thousands of couples living together in absence of marriage. Not to mention gay relationships that now seem to be fine. Which group of people is actually living Old Testament values?? I think mainstream America may need to take an inward look before condemning this lifestyle…

  • Jewels

    What a society that we live in, where Hugh Hefner’s polygamy is celebrated and hardly anyone bats an eye at the SIXTY year age difference between himself and his most recent fiancee, but these families comprised of consenting adults, practicing a tenant of their faith garner comments like “creepy” and “molester” – seriously?

  • Shawn

    NatGeo portrays these people as self sufficient. BS all there big houses and kids are paid for by welfare. Look it up on google. If you want to have an alternative lifestyle, then please foot the bill for your crazy lifestyle!

  • Lee

    First off, we all have to remember that none of us is perfect. None of us are saintly enough or perfect enough to judge othere. When I watch this show I don’t see some very sweet and lovable children who seem very respectful to their parents. I see parents who definately love their children. I see families who pray and work together. I see young adults who are not wearing ear rings in their ears, have tatoos all over themselves or swear like truck drivers. I see families who enjoy the simple things in life. Wow!! thats just awful!! We need to do something about that.
    Wheres the yelling and screaming, wheres the disrespect?? Yeah, there is really something wrong with these people. Why can’t they be like us???

  • Tee

    Sakamoto-I couldn’t agree with you more. You said exactly what I think.

  • gary wright

    I have found the series to be fascinating. Most people believe that all Mormon polygamists live like those depicted in Colorado City, under the direction of Warren Jeffs. This series has proven this misconception is absolutely not true. One observation that I have made, which I find curious, is the consumption of alcohol and use of profane words, even in the original founders of the community. I lived in a yoga ashram for approximately seven years, and am very familiar with the stares and fears from the people who lived around us. In one way, I was proud because it showed that I was breaking the basic Christian values adopted by this society; I see the same pride among the family members featured in this series. They seem like incredibly strong people who are embracing life, their families, and their dedication to their spiritual beliefs. Bottom line, we really do not know what happens to us after we shed our physical bodies on this planet, but people, in general, want to feel that they are on a path that will direct them to a oneness with God. These families are strongly committed to their faith and lifestyle– I have found the series extremely interesting, and have totally enjoyed the family members featured. Religious freedoms should be offered to all citizens of this country, as long as they aren’t harming anybody. I would have no problem befriending anyone in this community, and certainly these people really don’t live that far out of mainstream America.

  • Lisa

    I find this new series facinating. I personally do not believe in Bigamy, but hold no judgment against those who do. The community believe in who they are and the children grow up with a choice to make. I look forward to watching future shows on their families.

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