45 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Big Love--Bill Paxton Is Simply Terrific,
This review is from: Big Love: Season 4 (DVD)
Bill Paxton as the polygamist Mormon in this series has driven me absolutely crazy for four seasons. I always want to reach inside of the television and start choking him for the crazy things he does. This season he pushed my buttons even more. He decides to run for political office, of all things, with the express idea of going public about being a polygamous Mormon at his victory speech with his multiple wives and children beside him. "You idiot," I scream at my TV, "how can you be so stupid?!" But this is Paxton's brilliance. He has completely caught someone who is in the continuous, rapt thrall of obsessive religious belief. He is humorless, which is true of all zealots, because he never steps outside of its thrall for even a second. It absolutely controls every aspect of his life. He laments his early beginnings as a lost boy, thrown out of his outlaw Mormon compound, and mistakenly believes he has recovered from all of that. He has never recovered from being raised at a cult religious encampment. What he's done is try to transplant the cult to new soil, mainstream USA life. He plays the character as rather one dimensional and robotic because someone who is in a state of rapturous religious zeal IS one dimensional!
The other characters revolve around him. He is the head so what he says goes. However, he has thrown three wives together, all of whom have his children. They live and function as a unit. Like women everywhere who are cast into subordinate positions from which they can never emerge, they scheme around him. Oh boy, do they scheme. While he has his eye constantly on the prize, being united with heavenly father in paradise with this huge family, the wives jockey for position, power, and play all ends against the middle. If they believe in the end destiny, that takes a very subordinate position to daily contention with the here and now.
Then there is the true horror: when you take on multiple spouses, you take on multiple in-laws. Just imagine having to cope with multiple sets of in-laws instead of just one set. One absolutely needs religious zeal to take on that component of this lifestyle.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 3, 2010 12:02:47 PM PDT
Robert L. Smith says:
What do you mean it is not true? Check out "Sister Wives" on TLC Sunday evenings...5 part reality. Kody Brown and his 3 wives.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2010 12:58:36 PM PDT
I make no comment in the above about "truth". This is a fictional show based upon a real premise. I am aware that there is a reality show covering similar ground but I have learned more than I ever wanted to learn about this subculture within America. Thus, I will not be watching the reality show too.
Posted on Nov 18, 2010 9:14:05 PM PST
Phoebe Lange says:
I appreciated the thought that went into this well written review. The dynamics and psychology of our favorite polygamists is intricate, fueled with change as the wives evaluate new situations and use their individual strengths to "win" favored status - although Barb will always, most likely, hold that spot regardless. I dropped HBO thanks to the economy but can't wait to get the Season Four DVDs and see whether I agree with this and/or other reviews. But this review was exceptionally interesting to read and I appreciated the writer's insights and thoughts.
Posted on Jan 12, 2011 9:18:31 PM PST
Good review, but I disagree that Paxton is one dimensional. He is at once autocractic and democratic, selfish and selfless, compassionate and cruel, but most of all he is driven, like every charismatic leader must be.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2011 9:35:45 PM PST
I think he's a zealot; you think he's charismatic. That is a true difference in perception of his character. I think everything he does is activated by his being a zealot. I don't think any of his wives or children are zealots. The nuclear family he emerged from and the community within which he was raised were absolutely perfect breeding grounds for zealots. I think he actually believes the underlying faith a lot more than the leader of the compound ever did (the Harry Dean Stanton role). In that sense he is a much more sympathetic character than Stanton's was or Stanton's son is. I think the saddest thing about him is that he thinks he escaped the compound and his parents all those years ago. He internalized all of it and has never escaped from any of it. He is still very much a "lost boy." I think Bill Paxton the actor has done a fabulous job and I give him top honors in the acting department. Bravo, Bill.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 3:57:08 AM PST
Nicely said, Carol. Bill does gather people around him who love him and will make major sacrifices for him--such as his business partner Don. I'd call this charismatic. The wives have their own needs (not zealotry, I agree). Margene needs love and a family and I think she is going to "marry" Ana along with Goren.
One of the positive messages I take away from this is tolerance. I personally don't have a problem with polygamy as long as powerless people are not being exploited and as long as the polygamists don't expect to be supported by the state in the form of welfare payments for the children of the wives who are not legally married to the patriarch. This business of being supported by welfare is how many (most?) polygamists are able to support their massive families.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 4:10:44 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 13, 2011 4:11:07 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 5:40:13 AM PST
I think that requiring Utah to give up polygamy to enter the Union was one of the wisest things this country ever did. Polygamy exploits women and children to the detriment of society as a whole. The nuclear family has endured for millenia over any other form of society because the legitimization of children and their progeny is also important to society as a whole. To endorse polygamy is not tolerance as the USA well knew back in the 1800s when it put its foot down on the practice.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 5:23:26 PM PST
J. Catherwood says:
But he's still humorless. He takes himself sooooo seriously, sometimes I want to slap him. There is absolutely no irony in his personality. How can those women stand him? Then again, they're all kinda humorless, even cute little Marjean. They deserve each other.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 5:49:39 PM PST
He is humorless because he is a zealot. Think back to every zealot you've ever seen and you'll discover that they all share this trait in common. I have enormous sympathy for the children in this show. There is no way I would ever want to the be the child of these people in this situation. Their parents present this very same future to them as their only alternative for adult life.