The one thing that caught
my attention towards this HBO series was plural marriage. A guy married to
three women is an interesting premise to start with and thus I downloaded the
first season of ‘Big Love’. And I was hooked. Living in India, where polygyny
is allowed under Sharia law and we have grown up with mythical stories of the
Pandavas, the concept still sounded alien to me. And I would give full marks to
the writers of this series to bring about emotions and complications of a
relationship like this in such an easy manner that almost anyone would be more
than intrigued. The show depicts the life of Bill Hendrickson and his three
wives Barbra, Nicolette and Margene all trying to make sense of life while
living in present day America where plural marriage is illegal.
Some of the main
characters of the series are:
Bill Paxton as Bill
He is husband to Barb,
Nicki, and Marge. He is a practicing polygamist and runs the store Home Plus.
Jeanne Tripplehorn as
She is Bill's first wife
and was married to him for 12 years before the second wife is added to the
Chloë Sevigny as Nicolette
She is Bill's second wife.
She is Barb’s former caretaker, during her bout with cancer and is also
‘prophet’ Roman Grant’s daughter.
Ginnifer Goodwin as
She is Bill’s third and
youngest wife. She babysat the Henrickson children before getting married to
Amanda Seyfried as Sarah
She is Bill and Barb's
first daughter, struggling with her father's polygamy.
Harry Dean Stanton as
Nicki & Alby's father,
self-proclaimed Prophet, and former leader of the Juniper Creek compound.
Roman Grant's closeted gay
son and the heir-apparent 'Prophet' of Juniper Creek.
The most entertaining part
of the show is the chemistry that the leads share with each other. Just like in
a two parent family here there is tension, fights as well as declaration of
love between not just the husband and the wives but among the ‘sister-wives’ as
well. They all together create this really interesting environment where each
character brings something new to the table, which may or may not go well with
the others. And I would be lying if I say that I find Bill’s relationship with
his wives more interesting than the one they share with each other. The fight
for power, the compassion and the complications which a normal family faces
only become three times in this series. And to see the three women hold
themselves together even when there is so much friction between them is the
most endearing to watch.
Personally the first three
seasons, when the story was limited to the complexity of the families and
extended families, were of much higher quality than the last two when politics
was the centre of the story. One of the best scenes of the series was the
conversation that Nicolette and Albert have about the insensitive and demonic nature of their parents. The fact that Albert had previously on many instances tried
to hurt Nicolette’s family and husband, seem to evaporate in this moment that
the brother and sister share.
The older children Sarah
and Ben also add their own set of complications to the story, bringing forth
the confusion of a new generation. Finding their own path while shunned by
their peers and uncomfortable with their home is not easy but the creator give
the characters enough space to grow. And while Sarah goes for a normal
convention, it is Ben who surprises and shocks with his decisions.
Bill Paxton as Bill
Henrickson is charming and grounded. He gives a performance that eludes
endurance and more than that, love. Among the women, Jeanne Tripplehorn as
Barbra is like an all American mother who is full of love and compassion but
her character really shines when she deals with Nicolette’s rigid beliefs and
Margene’s free spirit. Ginnifer Goodwin as Margene is a joy to watch. Full of
energy and slightly immature, she grows constantly in each season. But it is Chloë
Sevigny as Nicolette who is the real fire cracker among the bunch. Her
character carefully treads the thin line between unlikable and almost likeable through
all the seasons. But it is her extreme nature that challenges Barb’s goodwill, Margene’s
love and Bill’s endurance and faith, the most.
Creators Mark V. Olsen and
Will Scheffer, have done an excellent job in making something as alien as a
plural marriage seem approachable and most importantly by not compromising the
values of any of the lead characters.
Labels: Check it out, CRITIC'S PICKS, Drama, Television