About Big Love The Complete Series
Big Love The Complete Series Editorial Reviews
Big Love: The Complete First Season-Big Love, HBO's newest buzzworthy series, recalls Groucho Marx's blithe proposal to two women in Animal Crackers. "Why, that's bigamy," one of the women exclaims. Groucho responds, "Yes, and it's big of me, too." But Bill Henrickson's (Bill Paxton) situation is hardly a laughing matter. Bill is a modern-day polygamist who lives in suburban Salt Lake City with his seven children and three "sister-wives": Barbara (Jeanne Tripplehorn, never better), the more mature anchor of the household; Nicki (Chloe Sevigny), who spitefully refers to her as "Boss Lady"; and recent addition Margene (charming Ginnifer Goodwin), insecure and childlike. A series that puts a human face on polygamy is brimming with prurient possibilities. Big Love's first two episodes are veritable commercials for Viagra, as Bill struggles to keep up with the demands of his spouses, with whom the sleeping arrangements are strictly scheduled. But once this more sensational aspect of "plural marriage" is dealt with, Big Love moves on to focus on the emotional, spiritual and financial pressures that beset Bill and his families. As the dreamlike opening credit sequence (scored to the Beach Boys' ethereal "God Only Knows") illustrates, Bill is a man on thin ice. He is carrying mortgages on three adjoining homes. A home-improvement store entrepreneur, he has just cut the ribbon on his second store and is planning a third. His wives, not immune to jealousies, vie for dominant position. And then there's Roman (Harry Dean Stanton; and any series that puts this venerable character actor and hipster saint in our homes on a weekly basis deserves our big love), the sinister leader of an outlaw fundamentalist compound, who has an escalating disagreement with Bill over the repayment of his loan that helped Bill build his fledgling empire ("There's man's law," he states ominously, "and there's God's law").
There are further complications that make Big Love so compelling. Bill suspects that his raw-nerved mother (Grace Zabriskie) may be poisoning his father (Bruce Dern). Nicki is a shopaholic accruing nearly $60,000 in credit-card debt. Overtures by new neighbors threaten to expose Bill's unorthodox and illicit living arrangements. The polygamy factor puts a subversive spin on traditional matrimonial melodrama. When Nicki plans her son's disastrous birthday party, her list of "immediate family" tops 150. When Roman, who is Nicki's father, arrives, Bill proclaims he is not welcome in his "homes." As with Rome, Big Love may require a little patience. But this fascinating portrayal of a shadowy subculture, the intelligent writing, and the estimable ensemble will soon make you feel like part of the families. --Donald Liebenson
Big Love: The Complete Second Season-Early on in Big Love's second season, closeted polygamist Bill Henrickson's kids come to him with a broken toy. "I can fix anything," he reassures them. If only his chaotic life were as easy to mend. Among the crises vying for his attention this season are finding out who was responsible for outing his wife, Barbara (Jeanne Tripplehorn), at the Mother of the Year ceremony; the investigation into the poisoning of his brother-in-law, Alby, for which he could be implicated in a cover-up; negotiating a deal to purchase a gaming company coveted by Roman (Harry Dean Stanton); and, in a "holy spirit sucker punch," meeting Ana (Branca Katic), a Serbian waitress who just could be wife No. 4. A Golden Globe nominee for Best Drama, Big Love further draws viewers into the polygamists' shadow world. "If they could show just one normal plural family for a change," someone remarks at one point. Grounded in "the principle," the Henrickson households are about as normal as you can get with the sister wives at once fiercely protective of the family, while at the same jockeying for position and influence. Nicki (Chloe Svigny) is beholden to her father, the prophet Roman (whom Bill aptly calls "venal, corrupt, the face of evil"), and duty-bound mother, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place). Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), the third and youngest wife, has absolutely no boundaries, and initiates a friendship with Ana, and agrees to be a surrogate mother for her unwitting neighbor. "Boss Lady" Barbara must come to terms with the sacrifices she made for her marriage. Meanwhile, Barbara's teenage son and daughter are at their own crossroads on deciding whether to follow their parents' path. Complicating matters even further are Rhonda (Daveigh Chase, the voice of Lilo in Disney's Lilo & Stitch), the lying and manipulative child bride who runs away from Roman and the compound, Alby's sinister ascendancy, and Hollis Green, a rival polygamist patriarch and fierce fundamentalist with a penchant for branding those who cross him.
Season 2 further fleshes out television's most unconventional family drama. This set also includes three "prequels" that peek in on the Henricksons up to five years before the events of the first season. In one, Nicki suffers post-partum depression following the birth of her first son. In the second, Margene makes an indelible first impression in "Meet the Baby-Sitter." The third shows how Bill's three wives compel a move to the suburbs and into their three-home compound. This series has emerged from The Sopranos' shadow to earn some Big Love of its own. What happens next? As the Beach Boys sing during the haunting and etheral opening credits, "God only knows." --Donald Liebenson
Big Love: The Complete Third Season-Three seasons in, the popular HBO series Big Love remains a highly entertaining and rewarding viewing experience. The cast is enormous and the storylines are numerous, with each of these ten 60-minute episodes adding new wrinkles to the plotlines already being pursued. This is business as usual for those who've been on board from the start, but while newcomers may need a couple of episodes to get up to speed, viewers of all stripes will be inexorably pulled in by the show's tangled combination of drama and black humor, personal peccadilloes and internecine strife, and big time social and religious issues. There really is nothing else like this on the television landscape, and that's entirely a good thing.
As usual, the series centers on the anything-but-normal life of Salt Lake City businessman Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton). Bill’s a study in contrasts: while he has plenty of objections to modern Mormon mores (he and his family are no longer active members of the church), he’s committed to the practice of polygamy, which remains the single most controversial aspect of Mormonism despite having been officially banned. Bill, his three wives, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chlo� Sevigny), and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), and their various children find themselves waging constant skirmishes on several fronts: with their nosy, judgmental neighbors, with the splinter Mormon clan headed by the evil, self-proclaimed holy man Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton), and with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But the Henricksons' most pitched battles, and they are legion, tend to be amongst themselves. Though the wives generally get along with one another, the jockeying for position is endless, and Bill's desire for a fourth spouse this season definitely doesn’t make things any calmer. Other ongoing storylines include Grant’s trial for rape (similarities to the real-life prosecution of Mormon fundamentalist Warren Jeffs are no coincidence), which presents a serious conflict for Nicki, who happens to be Grant’s daughter; Bill and his partner’s ongoing efforts to open a Mormon-friendly casino on Indian land; and sub-plots involving teen pregnancy, kidnapping, adultery, and a host of other lurid behaviors. And while there’s a certain amount of what may be perceived as Mormon bashing going on, the edifying sixth episode, "Come, Ye Saints," in which the family visits Mormon landmarks from Utah to New York, features several of the season’s most moving scenes. --Sam Graham
Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season-There are doses of both good and bad news accompanying this release of the 10 episodes comprising the fifth season of the HBO series Big Love. The bad news is that the fifth season is also the last hurrah for a show that's rarely been anything less than entertaining. But the good news is that cocreators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and their cast and crew are bowing out with one of their strongest outings; at the very least, this season is consistently better than the somewhat haphazard one that preceded it. It's also the least amusing and most serious, as family patriarch Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn as Barb, Chlo� Sevigny as Nicki, and Ginnifer Goodwin as Margene), their kids, and even their friends and business associates face their sternest trials yet. Much of that is self-inflicted by the idealistic and stubborn Bill, who, having previously won a seat in the Utah state senate, has decided not only to reveal that his is a family of polygamists (or, as they put it, observers of "the principle of plural marriage") but also to fight a very uphill battle for public acceptance of them and their kind. The consequences are many: since Bill neglected to reveal that little lifestyle tidbit before, many of those who voted for him, including employees at his Home Plus store, feel betrayed; he may be impeached as soon as he takes office; his kids are bullied; the mainstream Mormon church (a.k.a. the LDS, or Latter Day Saints) actively shuns the Henricksons; and archenemy Alby Grant (Matt Ross), Nicki's brother and heir apparent to the late, evil prophet Roman Grant, has revenge on his agenda. Meanwhile, Marge loses her gig pitching products on TV, Barb considers joining a reform sect that opposes polygamy, and Nicki, never a very appealing character in the first place ("spiteful, jealous, and mean" is her own description), becomes nastier than ever. Add to that the specter of jail time for a crime Bill didn't even know he committed, and you're looking at a tower of tribulation that's too tall not to fall.
As always, there is a lot going on here, and while each episode can theoretically stand on its own, newcomers to the series may have a tough time keeping up, at least at first. But it's worth the effort. Big Love is beautifully written, acted (others in the outstanding cast include veterans Bruce Dern, Mary Kay Place, Grace Zabriskie, and Ellen Burstyn), and realized. It will be missed. --Sam Graham
Big Love The Complete Series Product Description
Over the course of five seasons, Bill Henrickson and his three wives (Barb, Nicki, and Margene) struggle to overcome a myriad of challenges they’re faced with while living a modern-day polygamist lifestyle. Bill is an independent businessman who runs a growing chain of hardware stores (Home Plus); the family later goes on to expand their business ventures to a Mormon-friendly casino in the middle of an Indian reservation; the family contemplates taking on a fourth wife; and as if that wasn’t enough on their plates, Bill decides to run for public office. In one of the most shocking moments of the series, on election night, new state Senator Bill Henrickson shook Utah to its core by outing his family as polygamists. Now, instead of being embraced for their honesty, the Henrickson family is engulfed by hostility from neighbors, Home Plus employees, casino partners, students at their kids’ schools and even fellow polygamists hoping to keep their personal lives private.
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