Big Love -Big News

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The only time I have seen Big Love is on a transatlantic flight back home to Salt Lake.  My initial thoughts were how amazing to have a church just like ours (almost) right in our back door and no one seems to know of it, as they keep it fairly discreet on the show.

From what I saw these Josephites seem to be very similar (i.e. Family Prayer, FHE, Family Council, even similar programs and auxiliaries).  They even seemed to act like Mormons I grew up with.

Since there was a split of Josephites from the Brighamites, wouldn’t most of these branches have similar temple ceremonies to ours?  If so shouldn’t they be the ones who are offended, not the Brighamites?

Big Love episode draws criticism from LDS Church

Before the first season of the HBO series Big Love aired more than two years ago, the show’s creator and HBO assured the Church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormons.


Big Love Series to Show Rites from LDS Temples

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The HBO series “Big Love” will show its version of temple rites belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The episode is scheduled to air Sunday, March 15.


‘Big Love’s’ promise to show LDS temple rituals has many crying foul

Richard Cowan, a BYU professor of church history and doctrine, said:  “It isn’t something that we want to keep away from everyone who isn’t a member of our faith, but rather something we would like to share with those who are personally and spiritually prepared to appreciate it.”


‘Big Love’ prompts LDS Church response and analysis

Certainly church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding.  Last week some church members began e-mail chains calling for cancellations of subscriptions to AOL, which (like HBO) is owned by Time Warner.


Please discuss anything and everything.

Comments 33

  1. I just hope they don’t do the cliche ‘this is wierd’ depiction a la September Dawn. If they do, it would include:

    Dim lighting, dark backdrops
    Blurred visuals–smoke, cheesecloth, or camera effects
    The sad looking participant who is being coerced into participating
    The zealous participant who is participating in an overly enthusiastic way
    A leader who is kooky, grim, and menacing
    Full blown nudity…walking naked in front of temple workers to step into a vat for the washing.
    Gallons and Gallons of holy oil being used for the annointing.

  2. Is it just me or would the two actresses to the left have a hard time wearing those tops with garments? To the left would have sleeve issues, and the next one has a sheer fabric. I’m thinking only Jeanne Tripplehorn is in the clear above. Not to mention the fact that as polygamists, they would be ineligible for TR unless they didn’t answer the questions truthfully.

  3. Hawkgrrrl: Of the three women in the picture, only Jeanne Tripplehorn’s character has been endowed in the LDS temple while she was still faithfully LDS (i.e. before her husband took a second wife).

  4. This was one of the comments in one of the above links: “So, let me see, Tom Hanks is the executive producer of Big Love. A month or so ago, Tom Hanks comes out on a rampage and blasts the Church and its members as “Un-American” for giving money to the Prop. 8 campaign and voting for it. A month later, the show is broadcasting the temple ceremony. Geez, it could be a coincidence or it could be Tom’s way of taking another shot at the LDS Church, notwithstanding the fact that his publicist suggested a public retraction was in order. After all, you don’t want all those Mormons boycotting all your future movies, do you Tom?”

    Kind of a shame. I think Tom Hanks has always been a favorite among Mormons for his many family-friendly roles and movies.

  5. Does the executive producer really have anything to do with plot development? Don’t they just put up the capital to make the production and take the profit when it does well?

    I think the other two wives are wearing their garment tops in extra large size, so they don’t come up so high on the chest. Then they just roll up the sleeves. Do you think his white clothing is ordered from the distribution center?

  6. Rigel: “Does the executive producer really have anything to do with plot development?” Undoubtedly this episode was in the can long before Tom Hanks’ statements to the media. I assume as exec prod he would have input on how the plot elements are portrayed, creative direction and the like. It’s disappointing that the love doesn’t go both ways between Tom and the church, regardless of the epi.

    I gotta think Bill’s temple outfit is from the distro center.

  7. Any big-name executive producer who’s attaching their name to a high-profile (enough) show like this has plenty of input on exactly the things Hawkgrrrl says. Enough to seriously derail a show if they desire.

  8. “Kind of a shame. I think Tom Hanks has always been a favorite among Mormons for his many family-friendly roles and movies.”

    This ought to be the concern of members, not whether they show it or not. Let Tom Hanks know that Mormons don’t like him anymore. 🙂 That information and pictures about the TEeple are readily available on the Internet to anyone to see. You can always get a copy of the Godmakers.

    I suspect the majority of folks who even watch the show are members, who would understand what is going on. the best course is to ignore, ignore, ignore.

    BTW, has everyone been deluged by the emails yet?

  9. “BTW, has everyone been deluged by the emails yet?”

    LOL. And requests to join Facebook groups. I can’t wait for Sunday–not because I have HBO and plan on watching (I don’t), but because only then will I stop getting email and Facebook spam from family and friends.

  10. “I suspect the majority of folks who even watch the show are members, who would understand what is going on.”

    Jeff – I have to disagree – at least from my anecdotal evidence. Any idea how many of my midwestern, average, thirty/forty-something coworkers have commented to me about episodes of Big Love? Interestingly, and perhaps thankfully, at least three of them have volunteered their general understanding that Big Love isn’t necessarily representative of the mainstream LDS church, to which they know I belong. I rarely watch TV and haven’t seen Big Love, but my friends have me intrigued.

  11. Hawkgrrl, that is a very good observation about the involvement of tom Hanks. I suspect he has anti-mormon feelings to begin with, and now, as you say, is trying to take a shot at the church. I think that this is the best explanation yet for this whole thing.

  12. Working in TV and having worked for HBO on a series just last year, I may be able to give some input on the EP issue. There are different levels of EPs some are involved in the day to day running of the show, and others are involved in structuring the initial deal and are never heard from again, although they do get dailies and cuts of each episode. I suspect that Tom Hanks is not involved in the daily running of Big Love because it must be a very very small part (financially and creatively speaking) of what his production company is up to. For instance, any feature that he is a part of at any given moment is going to have much greater impact on the financial and creative success of his company. I’ll guess that the TOTAL budget for a season of Big Love is 20mil or less. Where as on a feature Tom’s OWN stake in it could be 40mi or more. That is a huge difference.

    As for using a show to grind a personal axe, that sort of thinking might seem realistic on a Mormon blog but it does not address the reality of how shows work or are made. A high level EP of a show makes a decision to trust the writers and the EPs who run the show, the scripts are written and approved by the network in advance and the ship sails from there. The job of coming up with scripts and story lines falls to specific individuals within the creative team, it would seriously compromise their integrity, their creative efforts and the integrity of the show to use the show as a tool for one individual’s peeve. This sort of thing matters a great deal to HBO as a network, and to the people who work on their shows. I know this from first hand experience.

    Finally it really is the ultimate in “its all about us” thinking to believe that Hanks even knows enough about Mormons that he would understand how to offend us by using the temple in an episode of the show. They guy works in Hollywood, he is way too busy to spend his time researching how to offend Mormons!

  13. Post

    Maybe his passion and integrety for Gay rights is more important than winning the hearts and minds of the mormons.

    Remember the role he played in Philadelphia

    Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks stars as

    Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his conservative law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller. During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case before AIDS overcomes him.

  14. I was a little surprised that the church seemed to be offended, or that it at least condoned its’ members “choosing” to be offended over this whole thing:

    “Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding…..”

    Perhaps we (including leaders of the church) should re-read Elder Bednar’s October 2006 Conference Talk, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.” Said he:

    “When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”

  15. The words: “I hired an ex-Mormon as a consultant to make sure we got it right” somehow fails to comfort me…

    Do we know who this consultant is? Is he getting his information from the Tannerites or Deckerites?

    I have a bad feeling about this- I think it may be the worst public relations disaster for the Church since the old days of Mormon villains in dimeback novels during the late 19th Century.

  16. I don’t have such a bad feeling about it, and I hope its not the disaster you are predicting. We always say that temple ordinances are sacred, not secret. I’ve had friends go to the temple open houses and ask extensive questions about the clothing worn during the ceremony. I’ve had fellow medical professionals discuss the temple garment and literally lift up my scrubs one time to see the type of fabric they were made of. There is a great degree of curiosity about this among friends in our community and if we knew how to discuss it without feeling awkward, then perhaps our friends wouldn’t have to succumb to this voyeuristic presentation.

  17. The LDS backlash against portraying temple garb on HBO’s Big Love has been tedious, but somewhat fascinating to me. I wonder how much of the outrage might be attributed to an underlying discomfort with the dissonance of our “mainstream” image we present to the world and the jarringly quirky accouterments we reserve for private, sacred spaces such as the temple. We’ve told all our non-LDS friends about how normal we all are in the way we live and worship, but the picture of Jeanne Triplehorn in temple robes in TV Guide tells a different story in a snapshot. For most of us, it is hard to feel out of place in temple robes when everyone else around you is wearing them, but when they are portrayed to a wider audience, they _do_ look a bit ridiculous, even cult-like. Also, I’m willing to bet that more than just a few of us feel like the temple robes are a bit silly, despite their obvious symbolic significance. Arguments that they resemble OT temple priesthood robes, or Masonic ritual costumes don’t make the robes any less strange to the eyes of mainstream Americans. The fact remains, to anyone who sees the pic in TV Guide, or who watches Big Love on Sunday, those LDS people are one kooky bunch.

    And so, we are once again a peculiar people. Is that such a bad thing?

  18. 18 – Would you feel better if they had hired an active Mormon consultant, or if perhaps Bonneville had lended some of their assistance to the portrayal.

  19. This may have some good outcomes. People will not be wondering what happens in the temple. The FLDS Texas temple caused lots of negatives and misconceptions for everyone. Sacred does not have to be secret.

  20. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Big News Edition! | Main Street Plaza

  21. Pingback: Clint Martin’s Blog » “Big Love” Prompts A Change of Heart

  22. I finally got to see this episode, S03E09, and I can’t see what all the fuss was about. Although I admit that I was a bit uncomfortable seeing the token on TV overall it was very well done and well presented with that extra white lighting and the catholic like choir music in the background-obviously added to give the impression of holiness. It certainly got the message across that it is a holy and sacred ceremony, albeit on TV.

    The mistakes were few, one the worker used the mallet the wrong way up and it was clear that Barb didn’t have a recommend but got to borrow one from either her sister or mother, but then all three women were there in the celestial room together! Plus it is abundantly clear to all who see this episode that Barb and the polygamists are hiding from the church and when discovered they will face excommunication. Even that part is done respectfully, clearly showing that they ask politely and only after she confirms it do they move to hold a disciplinary council (albeit incorrectly stated that its the stake when for a women its done at the bishopric level)

    If anyone was poorly portrayed it that crazy sister of Barb who told the Bishop. She’s about as good a relative as the unabomber’s brother!

  23. I was searching the internet looking for previews of next season and I came across this site. Wow I am astounded that in today’s world there are still people who would believe in and follow such craziness! And so many of you…Please know that each and every one of you will NEVER be able to follow all of your rules PERFECTLY so I would have to assume that your place of eternal life and happiness must be very lonely. It is empty! People- wake up and smell the coffee-this is humiliating. The world is already laughing at us, do you have to fuel the fire? I, for one, enjoy watching Big Love each week. IT IS ENTERTAINING- nothing more. That is what it is supposed to be. Thank you Tom Hanks for giving us something to watch for an hour to help us relax before having to face another week of bad news! Don’t get your panties in such a wad, it’s Hollywood. And if you are so faithful and rock solid in your beliefs, what do you care what anyone else thinks?

  24. Is this the time when temple sekritz are shouted from the rooftops (via T.V. antennae)?!

    Hopefully HBO & Tom Hanks can initiate their viewing audience into Mormon covenants by airing the initiatory washings and anointings… The ultimate in proxy ritual!

  25. # 28 Julie

    “it’s Hollywood”

    Please tell me this is a joke. Just Hollywood? Ok, maybe people of the church can make an educated distinction (spelling?) between real practice and false. The thing is, those who don’t know alot about it… don’t know what to believe, what is real, what is “hollywood”. Watch a movie on any other religion. And sit and decide what’s real, what’s “hollywood”. Then talk to someone of that faith. Even if you get ONE thing wrong it changes the whole view of the religion.

    Satan never just flat out tells people false doctrine. He mixes it with the truth. If I tell you, Christ never lived, you won’t believe me. There is way to much documintation (spelling?) to prove you other wise. but if I tell you, Christ wasn’t the son of God, you’re more likely to believe it, i’m not saying he didn’t live, i’m telling you something slightly off. Satan works the same way. So does hollywood. It’s for your “enjoyment”.

    “The world is already laughing at us”
    …. So? what’s wrong with that? People laughed at Enstien. People laughed at Joseph Smith. People laughed at Christ. Isn’t it an honor to be in the same category?(spelling?)

  26. Having been born of a Mormon mother and a Catholic father (raised in the Mormon religion until 11 yrs. of age when I finally confessed to my mother that I couldn’t be a hypocrite any longer for the following reasons: 1. The Mormon religion believe Blacks to be the cursed race of Cain (who slew Abel) and cannot be a member of the Melchizedek Priesthood until BYU had a serious basketball team. That’s about it. Anyway, watching Big Love’s episode on going to the Mormon Temple with a false recommend from her sister blew me away. My Mormon mother who lives with me now (she came to live with us when my father passed away 2 years ago) told me she never had a clue as to what to expect when one visits a Mormon Temple until she had my father sealed to her by Baptism of the Dead and obtained a Temple Recommend. It’s just that someone born and raised in Utah in the religion being told by her Heathen daughter what she saw in the temple was too much for her. She was truly surprised that I knew as much as she did even though I left the church over 40 years ago. I guess some things should be kept secret no matter what ie: mason’s; Mormon temple’s etc.

    Thanks for letting me share.

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