Big Love Season 3 is set to start on January 18th. HURRAY! Here’s a link to the official HBO website:
Big Love at HBO
Tired of the same old emergency room and police dramas? Sitcoms telling the same old jokes? Starting to wonder how real that reality TV show really is?
Big Love! The most unusual family drama ever produced.
For those not familiar with the series, this is the 3rd season. Big Love is about a fictional, independent polygamist family that lives hidden in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Bill Paxton plays “Bill Henrickson,” a highly successful entrepreneur in the hardware/home-improvement business. He has three wives: Barbara, Nicki and Margene. He and his first wife were at one point traditional members of the LDS Church. Due to some circumstances in life, they sort of fell into polygamy. Nicki, the second wife, is one of the many children of the corrupt prophet/leader of Juniper Creek, a fundamental polygamist group that lives on a closed compound in a remote part of Utah (a lot like Warren Jeffs and the FLDS). Margene (3rd) is the youngest wife. She was not raised in any form of Mormonism, but wanted to join the family as the third wife after getting to know them. They all live on the same street, each wife having their own house next to the others. They share a common backyard area complete with a barbecue and swimming pool — what could be more ideal? Hehe. The show is both uncomfortable and amusing. Nobody can really “get” this show like Mormons. The producers did a lot of research and like to throw in little tidbits of Mormon culture.
The show’s drama revolves around the constant threat of being discovered. Bill has business ties (that he regrets) to his mafia-like father-in-law on the polygamist compound. Roman Grant loaned him a lot of money when he was desperate to get started in business. Bill and Nicki have dysfunctional family members with all kinds of problems that still live on the compound. They are always being threatened. The Henrickson family is constantly being forced to deal with their fundamentalist past, their desire to fit into normal society, and all the ups and downs of just being a family with young children and teenagers.
There’s simply nothing on T.V. like Big Love!
I’ve been totally shocked by the response to the show from my non-Member friends. I admit I’ve never seen it, myself, but it led me to discover something amazing about the more Liberal friends of mine. At first I was worried that it would put Mormons in a bad light, but one of my friends assured me that the show made a clear distinction between members of the LDS Church and the polygamists in Utah. Furthermore, I’ve been amazed that my friends who watch the show often have sympathy and love for the characters, and have completely softened their rhetoric towards polygamy. Most if not all of my non-member friends who watch the show now have told me that they accept polygamy as a choice some people make, and that they have no right to impose our standards of living on consenting adults who live different lifestyles. Usually these are Liberal friends of mine… so in other words, the same friends that oppose Prop 8 and support the gay lobby also fully accept and can even sympathize with polygamous families. It’s a tolerant world we live in. It actually brought me a bit of comfort.
I agree with your friends’ comments Arthur. The show is *VERY* clear that polygamy is not practiced by “regular” everyday members of the LDS Church. In fact, that is a key part of the plot in many episodes. The Henricksons are constantly trying to avoid notice from LDS Church members — neighbors, business associates, etc. It is clear in the show that LDS Church members would be the first to turn them in to the authorities.
The Henricksons (the main characters) are portrayed as an intelligent, highly functional, loving family. They seem just like everyone else you would meet on the street, except for the fact they are polygamists (and nobody knows). The writers make you feel connected to the family. The women in the marriage were all consenting adults and chose to join the family, although Margene was pretty young (early 20’s?). The first wife (Barb) was totally in the know and approved, although it was complicated at first (don’t want to let too much out if you haven’t seen the show). So that is why your friends probably thought “whatever, to each their own.” That is how the family is portrayed — just another modern lifestyle choice. Some have theorized that the concept of the show was to portray alternate lifestyles in a positive light, and indirectly make gay marriage look more normal.
The Henricksons are contrasted by the polygamists at the Juniper Creek compound — a closed and very dysfunctional society. They are the stereotypical “bad” polygamists many people think of when the subject comes up — abused women wearing prairie dresses, being assigned and reassigned to husbands based on the whims of “the prophet” Roman Grant. They all live in near poverty on this compound. The place is full of intrigue and even suspected murder plots for power and control.
In between seasons, my wife and I joke “We miss the Henricksons!” Like they were our neighbor friends or something that we hadn’t seen in months. LOL. I don’t watch much TV, but this show sucked me in. It is so bizarre and different.
I turned it on once while we were staying in a hotel and thought the plot of that episode was pretty good, but suddenly there was a scene of Bill and one of his wives bare from the waist up “spreading the love” in a very active way. I turned it off quickly and have never watched it since. I’m not prudish about nudity, but simulated sexual acts or ‘soft porn’ create the same distressing neurochemistry effects that are associated with porn in general.
The TV show would be “R” rated if it were a movie in the theaters. Thanks for bringing that up! It is an important point to mention. Some episodes have a scene like that, which is why it is on HBO and not CBS/ABC/NBC.
I am happy that BigLove is back on. There were many things that I’ve learned about Mormonism and Mormon culture from the show (started watching before I became a Member). And if it’s Soft Porn you want . . . just watch HBO a little later. And when it says ‘Nudity’ and ‘Sexual Situations’ it means just that. If you’ve ever seen Secretary, Bound or Crash (1996) then the sensuality in BigLove is like watching a Bella Kiss Edward in Twilight.
My wife and I really enjoyed ‘Big Love’. Personally, I feel that a presentation of the sexual aspect of the unusual marriage is important for an intimate, balanced and sympathetic portrayal. Remember that the makers of the show used the premise of polygamous marriage to engage questions of prejudice towards the gay community, so sexuality is at the core of the show, for the creators. My wife Helen expressed one time to me that the show helped her to think about and understand something about what Polygamy practically means – perhaps something we should all consider, if we’re from the LDS community! It’s part of our heritage, and perhaps, our future!
As an investigator, “Big Love” has helped to answer A LOT of my questions about the faith. The show has actually attracted me to the LDS Church!
The writers do an excellent job of keeping polygamy separate from the modern Church; they must be Mormons. I’m learning so much about some subtleties of LDS.
If you’re a true blue Mormon, watch the show. I think you’ll appreciate it.
I can’t believe what I’m reading! I don’t donsider myself a prude by any means, but when did it become acceptable to watch sexual situations with nudity? That IS pornography, even though it may be what you consider “soft core”. Have we forgotten the council of the prophets to avoid polluting our minds and hearts with such material?