I’m Big on HBO’s Big Love

Posted on February 21, 2010. Filed under: Personal Reviews, TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

It’s the honest truth that I’m not huge on TV. I enjoy it, but typically don’t follow many shows. I start following shows but then get turned off when their story lines take too many turns and they get a little out of control, real life is definitely like that and while TV is a good escape from real life their drama can be just a little much. With all of that being said I do sometimes enjoying renting season-long shows from the library, usually I’ll pick them up based off of recommendations from coworkers and friends, and this is how I got into Big Love.

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Let me start by explaining my recent interest in Mormonism – I’ve read about Mormons in the past and find the religion very interesting, I’ve even reviewed books on Mormons in this blog before. Not all Mormons are polygamists and I’d assume that not all polygamists are Mormons so it may not be fair that they automatically are grouped together. Like learning about any other religion, you easy get drawn into learning as much as possible with that religion and picking up Big Love happened to intersect my recent books about Mormons, it was perfect timing for me to get sucked into this show.

Big Love is the saga of  Mormon polygamists living in modern day Utah. Bill Henrickson (played by Bill Paxton) is married to Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). They have a complicated housing set-up where all 3 houses are connected in the backyard but appear to be 3 seperate households from the street. On the surface they are three very seperate families. Even more surprising is that on the surface they don’t seem different. Since I’m not a polygamist I assumed that it would be easy to spot their families, and that they would just be ‘different’ than me, but they don’t seem to be, at least not based on what is portrayed in Big Love. For a little more about the families invovled and a family tree Wikipedia has a great article on Big Love http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Love .

As for the wives, well here is a quick rundown: Nicki wears more modest and traditional clothing since she was raised on Juniper Creek, a polygamist compound where Bill was also raised before being abandoned by his family in his early teenage years. Nicki and Bill have two young boys and are hoping to have their family grow. Margene, or Marge, is muchyounger. She is very bubbly and fun loving. She appears to be a single-mom because she has 2 younger children and pretends to be a widow to the outside world. Barb, Bill’s first wife, is older, and has a more established family with Bill with 3 children, all teenagers. Her sister and mother are very against her marriage and she struggles to make piece with her decision to participate in a polygamist marriage and be a good daughter.

Bill is  a successful businessman. He is owner and CEO of Henrickson’s Home Plus, a casino and is having a run for local government. He has other polygamist friends and works with other Polygamist dealers. It seems to be a secret society in the sense that polygamists can find others and can keep great secrets on it all since it is illegal in Utah. When you first watch the show you find yourself wondering how they don’t get caught since it is illegal. After the first season you almost find it to be the norm, and never really think about them getting caught, or being outed as polygamists because that is just the way their family runs and you’re adjusted to it by this point.

When I first started watching the series I really expected it to be a lot about their sex life – how great for a husband to have 3 wives? At first you can see that it starts to focus on that, but that really becomes an after-thought to the series. There are more than a few shots of Bill Paxton’s butt, but it’s nicely toned and they don’t last for more than a few seconds so you can’t be too offended. This show is really about family dynamics. Making your family work and succeed regardless of the size.

Should you add another child to the family or another wife? Who’s turn was it to shop for food and which wife gets to spend the night with the husband? It’s a daily battle to make this family stay afloat. To complicate matters more, Nicki’s dad,Roman Grant, is the self-proclaimed Prophet of Juniper Creek, which is the compound that Bill’s mother and father as well as his brother still live. Roman is continually threatened by Bill, why wouldn’t he be? He’s a businessman who can succeed based on his personality, good ideas and strong work ethic. It seems that Bill would love to forget the compound and fully move on, but with Nicki as one of his wives that’s really not in the cards for Bill.

With three wives, and 7 children total there is more than enough drama to go around for this family. It’s a constant struggle to make friends, keep friends, stay private with your polygamist family and be a successful business owner, not to mention to keep relations with the residents of Juniper Creek cordial. The family is easy to relate to, and it’s fun to get to know the wives and their different personalities. I am always impressed by the story-line which hasn’t gotten too far strung yet, mostly because there are 3 families to spread the drama between. It’s really a great show, and it’s really great to see that their actresses have started to be recognized with awards.

If you’re looking for a show that is a little different than everything else on TV but very compelling then I would definitely recommend Big Love! And if you’re a big Bill Paxton fan than this will be a sure hit for you!! Be warned though, it’s a truly addicting show!

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2 Responses to “I’m Big on HBO’s Big Love”

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if i had HBO i think i’d be watching this show all the time. back when i had to travel for work i always checked the hotel guide to see when it was going to be airing so i could give it a watch. i am fascinated by the idea of polygamy and really can’t quite understand why it is specifically out lawed. great review 😉

After watching this show I can totally see where you’re coming from on the polygamy issue, it’s SO complex and intriguing!! 🙂


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