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!

Show Review: Manifest (2018)

Awww yuuuus, this show is my absolute jam! It’s like Lost meets Heroes meets Tru Calling and has filled my sci-fi need. The plot follows the Stone family: Michaela Stone, a detective with a troubled past, and Ben Stone, Michaela’s brother and husband to Grace, and father of Cal and Olive. After a trip to Jamaica with their parents, the flight gets overcrowded and passengers are offered alternative routes if they’re willing. Michaela, who’s struggling with going home after the death of her best friend in a drink driving accident, and not sure how she’s going to respond to her boyfriend’s proposal, opts to take a later flight to postpone it. Ben and Cal offer to stay behind with her. Cal is dealing with leukaemia and isn’t responding to treatment and has no desire to go back home, either.

*spoilers*

On the flight, the plane is struck by intense turbulence, but everyone’s okay and the pilot requests permission to land. He’s met with bewilderment from the air traffic controller and the plane is diverted to another airport where the passengers are greeted by police and the FBI. After disembarking, the passengers are told that they’ve been missing for five years. Confused and upset, they’re questioned for days but are finally let go after thirty-six hours. Grace, Ben’s wife, and Olive, his daughter and Cal’s twin sister, meet them at the airport, along with Ben and Michaela’s dad, but they find out that their mother’s passed away in the time they’ve been missing, and Jared Vasquez, Michaela’s boyfriend, is now married to her best friend Lourdes. Grace, too, has a boyfriend. But the personal complications are the least complicated part of their return.

Michaela’s on a bus a couple days later when she starts to hear a voice telling her to ‘stop’. She forces the bus to stop and, amazingly, saves a child’s life. Later, she and Ben both hear the same voice telling them to free a pair of dogs. The deed leads Michaela to saving two kidnapped children. She and Ben dub the voices their ‘callings’ and soon the voices lead them to other passengers, namely Saanvi Bahl, a doctor whose cancer research is curing children with leukaemia – including Cal. (Saanvi is an absolute gem!!!)

Ben, Michaela, Jared and Saanvi begin working together to figure out the mystery of the callings, why the plane jumped through time, and what it means for everyone involved. Initially, each episode follows another member from the plane and how they’re handling their callings and how their stories propel the group towards answers (and total confusion). The storylines eventually bring the passengers to an organisation who have deeply nefarious intentions and the question of whether someone else knows what’s going on.

I love the focus on family and siblings in this show. Michaela and Ben’s relationship is the central force of the show and they’re a great duo! Cal and Olive, twins with now a five year age difference between them, are adorable and protective of each other. The romantic relationships are great and really tug at your heartstrings. I love Ben and Grace together, and while I really liked Michaela and Jared at the start, I’m liking Zeke more and more. Zeke is introduced as a mystery character about midway through season one and I was pleasantly surprised to see the actor was Matt Long from Jack & Bobby! Nostalgia throwback!

The third season is airing in 2021 and I can’t wait to finish season two and find out what happens!