Did you watch "Big Love" last night? This HBO series about a modern day polygamist cult in Utah ended its five-year run last night with an episode that rushed about madly trying to tie up all the loose ends of all the wild and crazy story-lines it had introduced this season.
I watched the entire series, all five years, every episode, with two big fans of the show. I was a...little fan of the show.
The first year was very entertaining. Partly, I think, it was the novelty of the situation - a marriage of a man, a successful businessman, and three women with all their many children all living together in three adjoining houses in Salt Lake City. If nothing else, there was enough prurient interest to keep the series going that first year, but after that season, it began to flag a bit in my estimation until, in this last season, the show had lost its focus altogether. It was a mish-mash of competing and fragmented story-lines that went nowhere and contradicted much of what had gone before.
Take Bill the polygamist's parents, Lois and Frank, for example. These two characters had spent four years trying to kill each other, but in this season, we find out that Lois has Alzheimer's disease and she wants Frank to take care of her. And he does! The last scene that we see of them is with the two of them lying in bed, empty pill bottles on the bedside table, and Frank talking about the good old days when they were first married. Lois appears to be asleep or maybe already dead. And what of Frank? Has he committed suicide, too? Well, that is left to the viewer's imagination.
I was never able to work up much empathy for any of the characters in the show. Bill Hendrickson, the main character, was a real piece of work! He wanted to have sex with lots of hot women, so he invented a theology and a cult that made it okay for him to do that. In doing so, he joined a long line of horny men throughout history who have invented similar religions for similar reasons. What perplexed me was why the three hot women (and they were hot) would go along with it.
The most interesting thing about the series for me was the relationship of the three "sister wives." Barbara, Nicky, and Margene were really like sisters. There were jealousies and conflicts, but ultimately they did support each other. Their characters showed the most growth and development through the life of the series. By the end, even spacey Margene showed signs that she might actually develop into a fully-fledged adult human being and Nicky gave glimpses that she might grow a heart, while Barbara seemed poised to take over the leadership role in the cult.
What I would really be interested to see would be Barbara, as leader, opening up their cult to polyandry. I mean, why should men have all the fun? How about a family of one wife and three husbands? Now, I might watch that!