Show Review: Big Love (2006)

As a Veronica Mars fangirl (the show, the books and the movie, I ain’t about that last spoiler in the miniseries I don’t want to see now, ugh), I feel like I should have got around to Big Love sooner. But alas, it took me some time. Seeing Mac (Tina Majorino) and Lily (Amanda Seyfried) as best friends is great, though. Their friendship alone sold me on the show, but honestly the whole cast are superb and I’m really glad I finally got around to watching it. You also have Ginnifer Goodwin, who is just adorable. It’s also very in the theme of Once Upon a Time alums over here at my blog, seeing as how I just marathoned Manifest with Josh Dallas, her real life husband.

Big Love follows the large – and growing – Henrickson family in Utah. The family lives by ‘The Principle’. They’re polygamists living away from the fundamentalist compound where Bill, the patriarch, was raised as a boy and kicked out of when he was fourteen. He initially married Barb, intending to maintain monogamy, and they had three children together: Sarah, Ben and Tancy. After Barb gets cancer, and thankfully recovers, she can’t have children any more and Bill takes a second wife, Nicki. Nicki and Barb grew close during Barb’s cancer, as Nicki was her caretaker. Nicki and Bill have two children together. A few years later, Bill, Barb and Nicki marry Margene, Nicki’s former babysitter. Subsequently, Margene and Bill have children.

The show begins a few years after everyone’s married. Bill’s running a large business and divides his time between three houses the family share. Overall, things are quiet and normal, until drama and tension begins to chip away at their life when Nicki’s father, Roman Grant, begins pressuring Bill for a stake in his businesses. Soon the whole family and the entire compound are at odds.

What I found so interesting about this show are the characters and their dynamics. Margene is young and flighty and open-minded about everything; Sarah hates polygamy but loves her family; Ben struggles with being a teenager and wanting to follow the rules; Barb loves her husband most yet wants him to be happy; and Nicki … Nicki is fascinating. She drives me absolutely barmy at times, but she’s got her good moments and is loyal and strong. There’s also Heather, Sarah’s best friend, who is deeply religious and believes polygamy is wrong, but adores Sarah and grows close with the family despite their differences of opinion.

I didn’t know much about the history of the religion or how any of it worked before now and I think the show presents everything with an open mind. It’s also interesting to see how the family interact with different sects of Christianity. Overall, I think the series is a character study and one that tries to focus on the relationships, the complications, the humanity, more than taking sides of any argument. It’s very well done and I’m curious to see how it ends!

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