Monday, July 23, 2007

Big (and medium-sized) Love

Big Love, which my favorite show this summer--well, it's the only serial I watch this summer, so I guess it's my favorite by default--is in some doldrums with this transitional episode, shown July 9. There are things that just wouldn't happen. No Fundamentalist Mormon couple would ever put their child in a Catholic school. Bill's desire is to buy a gambling machine company, when gambling is strictly taboo. Even the coffee cups the actors heft in a couple of scenes would be taboo. The interesting and realistic part is the beginning of Bill's courtship of yet another woman.

Bill's courtship isn't that surprising. Thirty years ago I worked with a young secretary who was in love with her dream man, only to find out after she'd gotten engaged if she married him she'd be sister-wife number three. No guy who wants to make a woman interested comes on to her with, "Hi, I'm Bill…I'm a polygamist. How'd you like to be my number four?" They've got to be careful. They hunt like tigers, sneaking up on their prey, then pouncing when the time is right.

In real life polygamy comes in all forms, from the most religious to a more casual relationship between the extended family. Big Love is interesting because it mixes the two. Bill's relationships with his wives would be definitely considered casual, because he's not a stern, religious figure whose word is absolute law. In some communities in Utah and wherever Mormon fundamentalist sects live, like the Juniper Creek community shown in Big Love, Bill would be considered weak. His wives and children would be supposed to do what he wanted them to do, 24/7. If they didn't a spiritual leader might take his wives from him and assign them to another husband. In the Fundamentalist Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints, whose leader, Warren Jeffs, is now awaiting trial, he'd definitely lose his family. His son would have been banished from the home, left to fend for himself. His sexual activities would come out and he'd be sent packing. That would also remove him as a rival for young women with the older brethren of the sect.

Bill's oldest daughter, Sarah, who appears to be about 18, would have been married to a "worthy" man when she was about 16. She might have even been married to Bill's brother. That happened with the Kingston polygamous family. The teenage daughter of the leader of the sect ran away when she was supposed to marry her uncle. Her father caught up to her and beat her within an inch of her life. She went to the authorities and her father went to jail. Needless to say, she didn’t marry her uncle.

It's all sad and sordid, but I'm sure for every child beater and unbearable iron-fisted patriarch there are husbands more like Bill Henrickson, but there are still things about the show that just don't ring true, like I mentioned above. Of all the things that bugged me about this episode the coffee cups are among the worst. Mormons, fundamentalist or mainstream, just don't drink coffee. If they do, it's not in public. Of course, as one funny guy I know asked once, "How come there are so many Starbucks stores in Utah? No one here is allowed to drink coffee!" Haha. Funny man. But, he'd be right about 50% or so of the population who are supposed to be Mormons of one degree or another.

I found these pictures online. The two Jenny Craig dropouts are what I would define as Big Love!

No comments: