Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Big Love

I watched the premiere episode of "Big Love" this week. I know what you're thinking. How hypocritical to refuse to watch a show that makes entertainment out of organized crime and flock to one about polygamy? I don't endorse either, right? Don't worry, I've tried to rationalize it already to myself. But I did give "The Sopranos" two episodes, not wanting to judge without experiencing for myself, so I owe the same to this series.

Beyond that, of course, is the simple fact that marrying multiple women is not in the same league as murder and rape. Yes, it's a life style choice I'd never make, but I refuse to see violence for profit as a "life style choice." The pilot episode of "Big Love" went to great pains to point out that the three wives of the main character Bill are all adults who have made the choice to join this family. This is juxtaposed with scenes of Bill's freaky fundamentalist cultish parents and siblings, who live in a compound where fourteen year old girls marry sleazy old men and people refuse medical treatment for their loved ones out of fear of the law discovering their illegal practices. Yes, polygamy is a crime, but statutory rape is a bigger one, and the so far the series seems intent on demonstrating how you can break the less harmful taboo and not be guilty of the other.

Still, part of me is in that "get out of the kitchen" mode: Bill, if your life is so complicated by the stress of keeping your harem secret, of not having enough libido to satisfy even one of your wives, of owing money to the cult's "Prophet" for some kind of archaic tithing (or even more archaic dowry for taking his daughter as wife #2), I say, why not call it quits? Yes, having two ex wives and a current will be as financially taxing as the present situation (although as they are not legal wives, there's no legal alimony requirements, just child support for his legally bastard children), but you won't need to have as much sex, you know? But then we wouldn't have a show.

And it's an interesting show. I'm not sure if I can stick with it for the long run, but the cult stuff is creepy enough to be a draw, and most of the actors are top notch. Jeanne Tripplehorn (where has she been lately??) as wife number one and Ginnifer Goodwin (the excellent first wife in "Walk the Line") as wife number three, are both fabulous, as is Amanda Seyfried as the eldest daughter. Chloe Sevigny does her usual sour-faced bitchy turn as the Prophet's daughter/wife number two. It's interesting how Sevigny causes such an intense reaction - most people either hate her rabidly or love her. Count me in camp number one. It's interesting that HBO chose an actress who I always want to smack to play a character that is supposed to make the viewer want to smack. Go, HBO!


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