The Idiot Box - Big Love

Watching television at the Green household is often an individual experience. While Mindy relishes the over-wrought drama of Grey's Anatomy, I like to delve into the rich and important themes of shows like The Wire, the lyric profanity of Deadwood and the depth and character study of Mad Men. I find Mindy has a hard time dealing with dark themes and violence.

"But that's the real world," I say, all snobby. And then I go back to watching television or writing.

Meanwhile, Mindy goes and treats the poor children of migrant workers at Maricopa County Hospital, or deals with parents using their children to obtain prescription painkillers, or informs the mother of a child with Down Syndrome that her daughter also has cancer.

So, when it comes down to it, I guess I have to admit we're probably even.

There are a few shows, like Friday Night Lights and Rome, we've been able to agree on. But the show we love most together is Big Love, HBO's drama about a polygamist family in Sandy, Utah, starring Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin .

Big Love combines the scope and quirky humor I love with the relational drama and hint of escapism Mindy appreciates. Unfortunately, when Big Love's third season kicked off in January, we'd just cut off our cable. Fortunately, we've...uh...found a way around that. I don't want to advocate any illegal activities, but I will say HBO should just be putting their shows on Hulu, or finding a way to generate income online. The point is, we've been able to keep up with the Henricksons, and I've been able to catch the second season of Flight of the Concords and HBO's new comedy series, Eastbound and Down. I figured I'd offer my thoughts on each in a series of columns, starting with Big Love.

Even for a show already known for sprawling, epic drama, Big Love's third season has been stunning. Series creators Marc Olsen and Will Scheffer have worked the story into a fevered series of dramatic haymakers. Only seven episodes in, nearly every episode has ended with Mindy and I turning to each other with wide eyes. It's boggling to imagine where the show could go from here, but writers are still adding threads.

Like Grey's Anatomy, The O.C. and even All My Children, the Big Love universe can teeter over-the-top. What's remarkable is how well it's done. In effect, Big Love is an archetype for high-concept soap operas. It's all well and good for shows like Friday Night Lights or The Wire to offer realistic portrayals of rural Texas or inner-city Baltimore, but sometimes it's nice to escape, appreciating the drama and world for what it is rather than thinking about a larger scope. It's not that Big Love is vapid, just that themes of poverty and race aren't out in front. Getting pleasantly lost in the Olsen and Scheffer's story-telling for an hour each week is enough.

I'd be remiss not to mention the acting of Amanda Seyfried, who's been utterly spectacular as the Henrickson's eldest daughter. She needs some sort of award. Who would've thought she'd be the best actress to come out of "Mean Girls"?

Question for the Biblical scholars out there: Is polygamy wrong? Was it always forbidden by God?


  1. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in 1Timothy when Paul's talking about deacon qualifications, he says that the men should be the husband of only one wife. I think chapter 3.

  2. The Bible opens with monogamy and returns to it by the time of the NT. But man there's a heck of a lot of polygamy from Genesis through the monarchy.

    God's intention would appear to be monogamy with marriage being a type of the relationship between God and the church,.

    I'd be a crappy polygamist. It took me 28 years to get married once.

  3. I've only seen 3 total episodes of Big Love, but every time I watch it, it draws me in. I need to get into hulu, too, so I can use less of those creative ways.

  4. @ Hillary:

    Well, it's interesting that would be specifically pointed out.

    From what I can tell, it seems to be something that God doesn't particularly like, but also not something he particularly minded.

    I realize that sounds crazy, but for such a common practice, there sure isn't a whole lot about it.

    And I'm with you, Larry. I'm a crappy enough husband already. Two wives would not help that.