Big Love. Big Joke.

CW BigLove.jpg
¢â‚¬¢ I’ve been asked what I think of the new HBO Show “Big Love.” Here goes. The producers say they “want people to fall in love with these characters and to root for this family.” The family they want you to love is polygamous and the reason they want you to love this family is it that it will garner sympathy for a redefinition of the family in general. I don’t think that is a good idea!

¢â‚¬¢ What is the show about? TV Guide puts it this way: What’s a fella to do when he has Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and (that’s right, and) Ginnifer Goodwin for wives? Big-screen star Bill Paxton talks with TV Guide about getting some real action as a Viagra-popping polygamist in HBO’s new dramedy Big Love (Sundays at 10 pm/ET). “Big Love” is the story of a man, Bill Henrickson, living in Salt Lake City with his three wives, three houses, and three families, seven kids and a thousand problems.

Episodes thus far have featured polygamy, repressive religion, financial pressures of supporting polygamy, sex (one wife lacks sexual inhibitions and the other wives are jealous), the polygamous man needs viagra, a tolerant Mormon girl who volunteers with gay, lesbian and transgender teens), religion used for tax evasion, God’s concern about TV, food and gluttony (but not polygamy).

The Mormon Church has spoken out against the show pointing out that they have banned polygamy, oppose sexual abuse and find this show another example of a deteriorating entertainment culture.

Ex-polygamists are speaking out against using the theme for entertainment purposes. A NYT Article Real Polygamists Watch HBO Polygamists explored this recently and the co-director of Tapestry against polygamy concluded, “‘Big Love’ skims the surface of the intense family dynamics in plural families. Their isolation, secrecy and complicated logistics make them breeding grounds for forced marriage, under-age brides and abusive men.”

¢â‚¬¢ Who is involved in the show? Tom Hanks is an executive producer. The creators are producers Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, partners in real life. Bill Paxton stars.

¢â‚¬¢ Why would they get involved in the show?

1) HBO: Money. What shows can they do that the networks can’t? Sex and controversy sells.
2) Paxton: “TV Guide: You’re a big-screen actor with a solid career who’s never done a TV series. Why make the exception for Big Love? ?Bill Paxton: What I saw right away was that this was a brilliant way to take an alternative lifestyle as far out there as polygamy and use it as a prism to examine contemporary society and mores.” “This show talks about the freedom in this country. Are we free to choose who with want to live with? Well, yes, but we can’t have legal rights together.”
3) The creators have explicitly described their agenda for the show (
read Bill Kurtz in National Review Online.. “Speaking to The Washington Blade, Olsen said he and Scheffer wanted to address our culture war over the family by trying to “find the values of family that are worth celebrating separate of who the people are and how they’re doing it.” (Kurtz of NRO: In other words, family structure shouldn’t matter as long as people love each other.) Scheffer adds that what attracted him to the Big Love project was “the subversive nature of how we deal with family values… I think what’s really exciting about the show is the nonjudgmental look we have on our characters.”

Their aim is the redefinition of the family and extension of legal rights to marry to homosexuals: In one episode, Big Love directly addresses the legal-political issues at stake. A polygamist leader explains to fictional reporters that judicial recognition of privacy rights for homosexuals would have to be extended to polygamists. “We’re just like homosexuals,” the man then explains to his shocked wives.

¢â‚¬¢ You often advocate building bridges from popular culture to conversations about faith–can that be done with this show? In making decisioswn about media consumption, we should make distinctions between “thoughtful creatives” and “advocates” who blatantly & openly use entertainment to re-engineer society. “Big Love” is definitely in that category. I think we should:

1) Pray for the people involved with this show and for people who find it entertaining.
2) Unless you can think of a good reason (which I personally can’t), just don’t watch it.
3) Don’t get involved in Mormon bashing.
4) If asked, be prepared to constructively share information about the stated agenda of the creators.
5) Find common ground with people of common sense who recognize that this show is exploiting an abusive practice for entertainment and commercial value and advocating a redefinition of family most find deplorable.
6) Most important–let your family life be a testimony to the value of healthy families.

Some good news? “Big Love” is losing viewers.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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