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Big Love--Bill Paxton Is Simply Terrific
on March 14, 2010
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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