Talented writers and actors are trying to make plausible the idea that American women raised in an age of sexual egalitarianism are bighearted enough to share a husband.
He goes on to point out all the ways that, notwithstanding, evidence of the intrinsic unworkability of polygamy keeps popping up in the show. Now, as Ezra points out, insofar as there’s no real evidence that the show’s creators intend it as a commercial for a polygamist lifestyle, a more parsimonious approach might just refrain from assuming that this is, in fact, their intention, rather than concluding that the writers were moved by the spirit to script it against their own goals.
But there’s a second problem, the bit about “American women raised in an age of sexual egalitarianism.” I’m not sure what show Saletan’s been watching. The show’s husband, Bill Henrickson, and his first two wives, were all raised on an out-of-the-way compound in a cultish offshoot of Mormonism that makes women pretty clearly subordinate. The third wife is comes off like a bubbly adolescent. They’re all (as far as we can tell) strictly heterosexual, so they’re effectively competitors for the attention and affection of one husband, rather than in a genuine group relationship. All of them are locked into both a rigid hierarchy among the wives (first, second, third) and a boot camp–style regimentation of their sex lives. So even if there were a pro-polygamy message here, the message would most assuredly not be that it’s a viable option for modern, egalitarian, sexually open women in particular.