I wasn’t planning to watch this, I just happened to be scanning channels the other night and landed on this show just as it was beginning, and found myself sitting through the entire episode. This is a new “reality” show on the Lifetime network, which focuses on the lives of a group of women who are each married to men who are currently in prison. Now, while I generally have disdain for “reality” shows in general (especially those G**d**n Kardashians), the idea of a show exploring the lives of the families of prisoners and how they survive while their loved ones are incarcerated could potentially be a valuable resource. This is something that affects a lot of people, I’d be willing to guess that many of you reading this know at least one person who is or has been in jail, because here in the United States we do have the 2nd-highest incarceration rate in the world.
However, instead of attempting to provide any educational insights, it appears that Lifetime is mostly going for the typical exploitation of most “reality” shows. Right in that first episode we’re already seeing petty arguments between some of the women, and previews of upcoming episodes show fights and trips to a strip club. So I don’t think this will much different than any of those Real Housewives shows.
But the thing that continues to baffles me is women who intentionally marry prisoners. Of the four main women featured on this show, two of the women were already married to their husbands, when those men committed crimes and got sentenced to jail. Okay, I get that. They’re standing by their men, y’know, for better or for worse and all that stuff. In both cases the men are in for assault and will eventually be released (one man is in year 3 of a 10 year sentence, I don’t recall what the other man’s sentence was). Okay, I’m not really going to judge these women, since I’m not in their shoes, so to speak. But it looks like they’re trying to make the best of a bad situation.
However the other two women are both married to men that are serving life sentences for murder. And these are men that they met and married while they were in prison.
Dang, I just don’t get that. I know there’s a saying that “Good men are hard to find,” but come on! One of the women knew the man while they were teenagers and then years later he contacted her online from jail and they resumed a friendship which eventually lead to their marriage. This woman actually said something like “I’d rather be happy with a man that’s in jail than be unhappy with a man that’s free.” She’s a divorced woman, who has a young daughter. Her ex-husband is unhappy with this situation (no kidding), especially with the fact that she often takes their daughter to jail with her to visit her new husband. The man is in jail life, and they don’t even get conjugal visits, so they’ve never had sex and likely never will.
The other woman signed up to a website to become pen-pals with prisoners, and that’s where she met her husband. She said she originally just planned to talk and be friends, but eventually realized that he is her “soul mate” and they got married behind bars (also being denied conjugal visits). Her family knows she’s married, but hasn’t met him and she says she’s been lying that her husband is a prison guard (clever). Now, her husband might be getting out. He killed someone during a robbery when he was 15 (with his 13 years old partner) and was tried as an adult and sentenced to life. He’s currently be in jail for 27 years. But she some new law allows for juveniles convicted as adults to apply for re-sentencing, and some he may get his sentenced changed from life to 25 years, which would be time-served and so he’d be released. So at least there’s some hope for them to really be together. But still, even she brings up her concern about how he’ll adapt to the real world, since he’s been in jail so long, and from such a young age. That’s going to take a lot of adjustments, not to mention what his future employment prospects are.
The hints of conflict between the cast arise when the first two women are together. One of them think that the other one thinks she’s better than the rest of the wives and looks down on them. They go to a support group meeting for prisoner wives, but the first women doesn’t feel she fits in because all the other women are married to murderers. But I was thinking, she has a point. I mean, she and the other are innocent victims, in a way. They didn’t plan for this to happen in their lives, while the other women knew what they were getting into when they chose to marry men who were already in prison. So, yeah, their situations are a little different.
I’m sorry, I hate to be judgmental (well, that’s not entirely true), but I do think there is something not quite right about women who fail in love with men who are in prison. We hear about this all the time, famous convicted murderers, from Scott Peterson to the Menendez brothers, get love letters in prison from women and sometimes even get married and have children while behind bars. Sometimes even female prison guards “fall in love” with prisoners. That’s insane! SMH.
Prison Wives Club airs Tuesday nights at 10pm on the Lifetime Channel.