Our America With Lisa Ling

In preparation for lunch with Lisa Ling, a group of us were given access to three episodes of Our America with Lisa Ling. There was one called “Modern Polygamy,” the next “Amateur Porn,” which airs tonight, and the third was about veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome called “Invisible Wounds of War.”

Not surprisingly for me, I watched the polygamy episode of the documentary-style show first. I find that lifestyle fascinating, not just because these men have multiple wives, but I find religious fundamentalists so interesting. How can they believe in something so completely?

And how can a mother let a young girl get into a marriage with an older man who has another wife? I was ready to be outraged. I’ve read “Under the Banner of Heaven,” by Jon Krakauer about two brothers who kill their sister in law and her baby in the name of God and “Escape” by Carolyn Jessop about a woman who escapes her polygamist husband. And I watched every episode of “Big Love” on HBO.

But what was so intriguing about the episode was that I wasn’t outraged. The town that they profiled, Centennial Park, Utah, wasn’t scary and oppressive and it wasn’t a town ruled by men. The women there appear to have a choice and a voice. In fact, according to the show, the women there choose their husbands not the other way around.

Some of the community leaders have even partnered with a Gay rights activist to help them keep the government out of their bedrooms.

Before the show, I had a very definite opinion on polygamy. Now, while I don’t approve of that lifestyle, I can see another point of view.

And that’s what I love about “Our America” on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Ling and her team do such a great job of telling intimate, well documented stories. She said that they spend weeks with the subjects they chronicle on the show and she gets to know them. And the audience gets to know them as well.

The show isn’t loud and it’s not yelling at you, Ling said. “It’s not sensational.” Ling’s goal is to take the audience along on a journey and then at the end the hope is that they leave with more understanding and maybe more compassion.

I didn’t feel the same level of compassion to the subjects of the “Amateur Porn” episode that airs tonight. It seemed like a bunch of people making really bad decisions that you know won’t end well. But it was definitely compelling to watch. The second season of “Lisa Ling’s Our America” starts tonight. I would highly recommend checking it out.

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