As the name suggests, the show centres on the valiant efforts of Jessica Christensen, Andrea Christensen and Shanell DeRieux who aid and support anyone who wants to break free from the confines of The Order. What’s The Order you ask? Let’s start from the beginning.

The birth of a clan

Salt Lake City, Utah is home to many fundamentalist religious sects, including the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). As with any organisation, there’s a hierarchy of power which is often contested, and the FLDS is no different. After going to the mountain to pray, a member of the church, one Elden Kingston, claimed that God spoke to him and gave him divine authority to start a new community of God-worthy folks.

And so it was, that on the 1 January 1935, The Order, also known as The Kingston Clan, was formed. The three pillars of the clan, as told by the Christensen sisters, are incest, secrecy and extreme frugality. Because polygamy is against the law in the state of Utah, most child births are performed behind closed doors at home, but it’s estimated that there are more than 7 500 members in the clan, with the power concentrated around the seven brothers who are sons of John Ortell Kingston.

It was John Ortell Kingston who took over as leader after the death of his brother, Elden, and developed his theories about breeding and pure bloodlines while raising cattle at a Kingston dairy farm. Stay with me, it gets better (or worse, depending on how you see it). His theories resulted in what he termed the gold blood, or Kingston blood. (We told you it gets better.)

The clan has ample coffers with their net worth estimated in the billions. Members live on private property, a large compound with hectares of land and has stakes in at least 35 corporations. They own and lease coal mines, accounting firms, garbage collection businesses, pawn shops, poker parlours and of course, cattle ranches.

The runaway bride

Because most girls are forced into marriage when they reach puberty, Jessica Daniel was 15 when she decided to run away from her family because she knew that her arranged marriage was nigh. At 18, she was adopted by the non-polygamous Christensen family, who also went on to adopt her sister Andrea.

But truly escaping involves more than just physically leaving, because from a young age, children are indoctrinated to believe in The Order and to never disobey. That’s what the sisters struggled with – how to think for themselves and leaving behind the clan, mentally and emotionally. It’s these emotional connections we’ll see on season four; Jessica and Andrea have to answer a call from a younger sibling who wants out of The Order and the looming marriage in store for her.

Now that the three ladies have made helping others escape their life’s work, it’s truly ironic to realise that they can never truly escape the influence of the clan, because of how much they continue to care for those they left behind.

Escaping Polygamy S4 starts Friday 21 February on Lifetime (131) at 22:50

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