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“I want a drama-free life” – would Shan’ann Watts still be alive if she’d followed her own advice?

In fairness to Shan’ann Watts, this is taking a single phrase completely out of context and applying it back to her. We don’t mean to do this in a nasty or victim-blaming way, we simply want to look at something she said on its own merits, and with the benefit of hindsight.


First of all, it’s likely Chris Watts also wanted a drama-free life, either as much as Shan’ann did, or possibly even more. Trouble was there was plenty of drama on the horizon as it was. Shan’ann was about to fall pregnant, intentionally, and Watts was about to begin an affair that would have apocalyptic consequences.

With these huge dramas waiting in the wings, it would be important to everyone’s survival not to add unnecessary drama to an already loaded situation. Even the financial storm brewing around them meant the odds of staying at an even keel were minimal.

So there is a lesson in this. All extremely loaded situations are by default difficult to deal with effectively. In a circumstance where there’s not one but three [and arguably more] devastating situations to deal with [a pregnancy, an affair, a second bankruptcy], it’s possible to make this bad situation infinitely worse.


Whether we blame Shan’ann and/or Chris Watts for the pregnancy, for the affair or for their financial distress, what we can agree on is that all these issues were preventable in the first place. They were individually and collectively matters of choice.

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Nut Gate – the explosion of resentment that preceded the ANNIHILATION – was similarly unnecessary. Whatever it’s connection to the murders, it clearly didn’t help anyone. It added to a sense of emotional compromise, irritation and aggravation. By the same token, committing triple murder was hardly any kind of practical,  workable solution either [let alone moral or ethical], but this “alternative” was selected for reasons that had to do with Watts’ low social prowess. There’s also another reason Watts chose the way he did: he chose what he considered the “easy” instant option for him. Millions are programmed to do that each the every day.


In the modern world we’re constantly faced with simple, convenient opportunities to deal with complex and difficult situations. MLM companies thrive on people who want to make the easy but ill-informed choice.  Invariably these simple, convenient choices don’t make life simpler or more convenient. Our self-delusion and greed draws us into wanting more but without paying the price or making a real sacrifice to get it.

Wanting a drama-free life is one thing. To achieve it means when things hurt, when we want to lash out, we’re able to suck it up, we’re able to exert discipline and see the bigger picture, if not for others then for ourselves.


Seeing the bigger picture includes attaching real consequences to ourselves, and our choices, especially those that seem to offer a quick and easy solution. There is never a quick and easy solution to complicated situations. But we can make a choice not to add unnecessary drama to already dramatic and difficult situations. That resolve, and keeping to it, is the first step on a road to somewhere better than we presently find ourselves. We’re very quick to blame others, but other people are beyond our control. The drama-free way is not to blame ourselves, but to turn to ourselves as both the source and the solution to what’s wrong with our world.


  1. Sylvester

    But you see she didn’t just choose a drama free life, or just choose to be happy. If it were just a matter of choosing then you would see people walking around with smiles pasted on their faces every day. If someone had played this particular video back to her when she was in the middle of Nutgate she wouldn’t have just stopped and said oh, I get it. I’m choosing to get upset here. This is the whole metaphysical self help positive thinking B.S. in a nutshell. It doesn’t work. It’s asking people to not be real, or authentic because a make up smeared face from crying or a fat body from self medicating with food doesn’t sell (as just two examples). Don’t be real. It doesn’t sell.

  2. Peko

    She wanted a life of high dramas where she was a Cinderella or Snow White-like heroine. “I want a drama-free life” is just a setup for that particular Thrive episode.

    Take Nutgate for example. Let’s assume Cece’s severe allergy was real and the ice ream was really made out of cashews. Did Cece ingest that ice cream? No, she did not. The drama arose because another kid simply ate it next to Cece. Shanann called Cindy evil and stupid for that and the incident, an attempted murder.

    Now let’s think about all those FB posts of Bella and Cece getting sick at least twice a month, at the same time, striken by the same illness and going through the same surgery – e.g.) they both had adenoidectomy and ear tube procedure together. When they got sick, they got sick with multiple illnesses – croup, ear infection, head cold and stomach flu, all at the same time. You can imagine how freaked out she might have been. She did not. It almost looked like she was celebrating: “Okay, pneumonia it is!”, “Tis the season!”, “Now it’s Bella’s turn, croup it is!”

    Does this make sense to anyone? There’s no internal consistency in her character.

    It’s also very creepy when you think about her 3-step MLM magical thinking: ASK, BELIEVE & RECEIVE. If it’s real, how would it interact with factitious disorder/Munchausen? You’re basically asking for all kinds of illnesses and acting out your wish by actually going to the doctors and posting on FB.

    The magical thinking didn’t help with her real life challenges.

    I believe she would’ve been still alive if she had not fabricated all those dramas. Being diagnosed with Lupus, fibro, hypo-thyroid, sjogren and endometriosis in a span of a few months of 2010 and plunging into a dark place as a result –> without these episodes, she would’ve never got involved with Chris Watts in the first place.

  3. richard

    A classic case of lack of communication.
    CW and SW should have divorced years ago.
    they both didn’t know how to communicate the directions they went in.
    CW being a follower but not happy and SW being a leader and going her own path regardless.
    I think it’s obvious that Chris would never speak up but less clear is if Shanann would even listen.
    Just prior to the terrible murders, I think at that point Shanann WAS willing to listen but by that stage Chris had already checked out of the whole thing and moved on.
    But if things were that bad (especially that last week returning from North Carolina), why could no one see that it wasn’t working and they should have already split ?

    • nickvdl

      I think at that point Shanann WAS willing to listen>>>Maybe. If you take the gender reveal thing, Watts had his reasons why he didn’t want it to be made public. But Shan’ann was going to go ahead with it anyway. One could argue that on that point alone, Shan’ann’s insistence on telling the world about their baby [thus twisting his arm into staying in the marriage] was why he felt desperate to make sure that didn’t happen. One could argue that if Watts could rely on Shan’ann to keep the news of the baby secret, it wouldn’t be necessary to do anything drastic to take control. Obviously Shan’ann wouldn’t want to protect his affair or him or his mistress, but on the issue of Shan’ann “listening to him” that was never going to happen.

      • richard

        Nickvdl, what about the relationship book and also after chatting to her friends they advised he to listen to Chris. this was all in the last week of her life

        • nickvdl

          We all have our different points of view. Shan’ann had spent 8 years of marriage dominating the relationship and calling the shots, including maintaining absolute control over the finances. Even by giving him the relationship book, and giving him a letter and requiring him to write one to her, she was calling the shots.

          • richard

            true but was she ruling the roost because Chris wouldn’t take charge or was Chris allowing it to happen because he didn’t want to deal with things ?
            A dilemma.
            I wonder what the dynamics of the relationship were at the beginning ?
            Apparently Shanann was at rock bottom when Chris contacted her (if we believe that version of events) and she pushed him away but he stayed. so that would indicate he was the leader (or the stronger of the two) back then

          • nickvdl

            I wonder what the dynamics of the relationship were at the beginning ?>>Not sure how much you know about this case, but Watts was an introvert. That aspect didn’t really change with him. With Shan’ann it did. She became more controlling and he became increasingly under control, the children being one way this manifested. In many of Shan’ann’s Thrive videos she declares herself the leader in the marriage, and the decision-making – the one wearing the pants. There was clearly a level where this was tolerable and perhaps even preferable for Watts, but at some point it crossed a line.

  4. Jenn H.

    I don’t think the dynamics in the marriage, as in who dominated the relationship had ever changed. It was clear that Shan’ann dominated
    throughout the relationship.
    Her perception may have been that she had to make the decisions because
    Chris was an introverted, passive guy.
    I’m not saying that it was right or wrong. It was the dynamic between the
    two of them, it seems.

  5. Laura Thompson

    It seems to me that Shan’ann thrived on “drama”. (I detest that overused meaning of the word.) This is not to disparage her; some people, particularly women, are just this way, and I know and love people in my own life who operate like this.

    I think she liked “drama” a lot, as long as she was the star, and could control the narrative. Nutgate is a prime example. I cannot even begin to list the ways in which I and most people I know would have handled that differently. Starting with, you don’t go putting your husband’s entire family on blast all over Facebook. It sounds to me like an innocent mistake or misunderstanding, and even if not, it could have been handled in a healthy, productive, adult way that could have delivered actual results.

    • nickvdl

      In Survivor one sees how certain personalities do thrive on drama. They feel they need to create drama in order to distinguish themselves.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “In Survivor one sees how certain personalities do thrive on drama. They feel they need to create drama in order to distinguish themselves.”

        I wonder if some people don’t create all this drama out of fear that they will *disappear* otherwise…

        I observed an incident, two actually, that led me to this conclusion:

        There’s a distant relative who, as one friend commented, “has gotten weirder with every passing year.”

        So let’s see. First it was “high fructose corn syrup is poisoning everyone”, then it was “Paleo diet” and “gluten free”, there were a few more of these, and now, she’s vegan no-corn no-oats no-wheat-but-she-WILL-eat-gluten. It’s insane. And going out to dinner with her along is a constant trial, as you can imagine, because she can’t just quietly read the menu and come to a decision; she has to cause a big scene with the staff. Her older sister is a vegan by choice; she quietly reads the menu and decides.

        Case in point: We were visiting, and we went to an old traditional restaurant with everyone. It was crowded – standing room only around the hostess stand. She bent the hostess’s ear for TEN MINUTES about what they served that was vegan enough for her taste, at one point sending this very busy staffer all the way back to the kitchen to ask the chef. She repeated this performance with the waitress, sending HER back to the kitchen to ask the chef also. Insisting that her hash browns be made with oil, not butter, and that the pancakes they had that *could* be made vegan *would* be made vegan just for HER.

        At the State Fair, she tied up the (growing) line at the candied nut stand by giving the hapless seller the “85 questions” treatment. Finally, when she had decided what to buy and paid for it, she then asked him if he could put it into a plastic bag instead of the plastic cone-bag it was sold in, because since she had a beer in the one hand, she couldn’t really eat it out of the cone-bag. So her brother grabbed it and said, ‘I’ve got it!’ A few feet away from the stand, he simply handed it back to her. “But I though you were going to hold it for me!” she wailed. “Nope”, says he, “I just wanted to get you away from there.”

        It’s a cringe-worthy performance every single time.

        And the kicker? She has NO health issues at all! This is just what she’s decided to do!

        So her brother was recounting how he started asking her questions and it was eventually revealed that she has this weirdo attitude toward food because her “spirit guides” (I’m not sure if that’s singular or plural, and I don’t care, so we’ll leave it as plural) told her to. They also apparently told her to follow a completely RAW diet, but that was too HAAAD so she turned down their command. So she can reject the “spirit guides advice”, apparently. IF she wants to. She eats lots of potato chips and French fries, without asking if they’ve been cooked in corn oil. So quite a bit of inconsistency in applying her own “rules”, which she seems to apply at her own discretion for her own convenience.

        Upon further questioning, she decided to turn it back around on him: “Why do YOU care why I eat the way I do?”

        “Because”, he explained, “you cause a huge scene every time anyone goes out with you, and everybody’s uncomfortable and embarrassed! EVERY TIME!”

        Their dad was listening to this recounting and said, “Every time I ask her that question, she bursts into tears!”

        She didn’t burst into tears with her brother, but she also didn’t have much to say about that.

        Aaaaand it occurred to me – perhaps she’s doing this, pulling all these crazy stunts, in order to be noticed, because unless she’s being constantly noticed, she will disappear entirely and cease to exist. It doesn’t matter what others think about her behavior (obviously), and she’s constantly causing a scene, abusing the staff who have no choice but to be kind and accommodating (because that’s a condition of their jobs and she knows it and knows she can get away with it), violating social norms and basic rules of etiquette and basic politeness and consideration, just so she is going to be treated as “special” compared to everyone else.

        Nobody likes this; it’s quite obvious; yet she persists. And, as that friend remarked, she is getting progressively weirder with each passing year. Another relative opined that her strange attitude toward food had long since moved into the mental illness category.

        So, yes, she’s out for “attention”, but I suspect it’s because she fears that, if she’s not constantly creating a spotlight for herself to hog, she will become invisible and disappear. And no one will miss her.

  6. Sylvester

    I think Watts was initially satisfied with his relationship, his marriage, to Shan’ann because he could stay under the radar. That was his sweet spot, to have things be calm. Let others struggle for dominance and power, he didn’t want it. But it’s never a good idea for the woman to wear the pants in a marriage. Because the man starts to feel like he’s not allowed to be a man, he’s diminished, he feels used. A man will be a better husband and one a woman can respect if he’s in charge. That doesn’t mean dominate, manipulate, or coerce. But be the strong one, and if he feels like that he will give a woman everything. A man just wants to be a hero in a woman’s eyes. Let him be that. And as we can see, Shan’ann didn’t do a very good job of being in charge. “I tell Chris what to do and he does it.” How awful.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Sexist and patriarchal much, Sylvester??

  7. LW

    One of the biggest points in this video was when you described how four main conflicts interacted almost symbiotically to create this disaster. The financial crisis, the marital stress, the pregnancy, and the affair: each factor fed off another and was exacerbated to the point of disaster.

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