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Big Love: Season 1
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(Oct 17, 2006)
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Think having three wives is a dream come true? Think again. HBO presents the new contemporary drama series that tells the story of Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), a practicing polygamist who lives in suburban Salt Lake City with his three wives and seven children. An independent businessman who runs a growing chain of hardware stores, Bill faces a myriad of challenges in meeting the emotional, romantic and financial needs of his wives Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) while dealing with their kids, three adjoined houses, an ever-mounting avalanche of bills, and the opening of his newest hardware store.]]>
There are further complications that make Big Love so compelling. Bill suspects that his raw-nerved mother (Grace Zabriskie) may be poisoning his father (Bruce Dern). Nicki is a shopaholic accruing nearly $60,000 in credit-card debt. Overtures by new neighbors threaten to expose Bill's unorthodox and illicit living arrangements. The polygamy factor puts a subversive spin on traditional matrimonial melodrama. When Nicki plans her son's disastrous birthday party, her list of "immediate family" tops 150. When Roman, who is Nicki's father, arrives, Bill proclaims he is not welcome in his "homes." As with Rome, Big Love may require a little patience. But this fascinating portrayal of a shadowy subculture, the intelligent writing, and the estimable ensemble will soon make you feel like part of the families. --Donald Liebenson
Top Customer Reviews
Bill grew up on a compound of fundamentalist Mormons that still practice the principle of polygamy, and he was thrown out of the compound and his family when he reached adolescence and became perceived as competition for the affection of young girls who were coming of age. At this point, betrayed by his family and his religion, he turned his back on the teachings of his youth until his first wife Barb became gravely ill.
Jeanne Tripplehorn portrays Barb, Bill's first wife and the sweetheart of his youth. You get the feeling that if he could, Bill would really like to ditch his other two wives and ride off into the sunset with Barb. Barb is a confident and educated woman who is very mindful of her own mortality due to having recovered from uterine cancer several years earlier. She is also very mindful of the fact that she must share Bill with her "sister wives" in order for Bill to abide by his conscience by "living the principle".
Bill's second wife Nicki, portrayed by Chloe Sevigny, is the daughter of compound Prophet Roman Grant.Read more ›
The series has been criticized by some for "glorifying" polygamy, but I think some of those critics have missed the point. The show actually takes a very even-handed look at what a polygamist family COULD be like: Paxton's family is far from perfect, but it seems to be held together by the sheer force of his character's love for all three of his wives. Whether or not you think it is practical, feasible, or even moral for one man to genuinely love three women, on this show that's what's going on.
This is balanced by some of the creepier, more cultish aspects of organized polygamy, personified by Harry Dean Stanton in a wonderfully understated villainous turn.
Where the show really shines for me is in the depiction of the extremely complicated relationship Bill's three wives have with each other. They see each other as sisters, as rivals, as friends, as enemies, as servants, as bosses . . . sometimes all within the same scene. These are very deep relationships, and all three of the actresses are very well suited to their roles.
Another fine aspect of the show is the depiction of how difficult it is for this family to keep the fact of their polygamy to themselves, lest they be looked upon as pariahs. It is a difficult task for them, and has great practical and moral implications within their lives, and the lives of their children.
Like most of HBO's original shows, this one works both as terrific entertainment, and as fundamentally sound art TV. Also like most of HBO's shows, this box set is probably a bit more expensive than it ought to be. But the episodes are terrific, and hopefully this will be merely the first season of a long run.
The show is extremely successful when dealing with the intricacies of raising three families in the modern world. I particularly enjoyed the details paid to the lifestyles in the home. The juggling, scheduling, jealousies, and secrets are all shown to good effect as the wives attend to the daily logistics of their situation. Home as politics--this is an interesting living arrangement, and one that hasn't been presented dramatically very often before. Throw in kids and in-laws and things can be very messy. But as the wives compete with each other in many regards, they support and love each other as well. The complexity of the relationships in "Big Love" stand as it's greatest achievement.
Some of the other storylines were a bit extravagant. The biggest plot driver involved the polygamist sect that our family had distanced itself from, and yet could not break free of. The power struggle played out here was entertaining, but not always as compelling as normal, everyday life. It was a bit overcooked....while a few lesser storylines were undercooked.
The actors are beyond reproach. Some veterans--Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Kay Place, Bruce Dern and Grace Zabriskie--are all used to good effect. Chloe Sevigny is a delight in perhaps the showiest role. The rest of the cast is solid. But I must make particular mention of Jeanne Tripplehorn.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Liked the story of the immediate family - the guy and his 3 wives.
The whole Morman political aspect was a bit too dark for me. Read more
Sometimes tedious, sometimes stressful, often an interesting view of domestic life seen through a different lens.Published 4 days ago by I.J. Barnett