• Publication date: December 10, 2009

Two is a Couple Four is a Marriage

Arab viewers of Hajj Mutawali may enjoy an American, Mormon take on the subject of plural marriage. �Big Love� is an HBO drama series focusing on the practice of polygamy in American society. Yet, the show is not a simple comedy or soap opera; it truly attempts to investigate the complications of a plural marriage, including jealously between wives, its burden on children, and interfamily complications.

Arab viewers of Hajj Mutawali may enjoy an American, Mormon take on the subject of plural marriage. �Big Love� is an HBO drama series focusing on the practice of polygamy in American society. Yet, the show is not a simple comedy or soap opera; it truly attempts to investigate the complications of a plural marriage, including jealously between wives, its burden on children, and interfamily complications. Additionally, the families� Mormon identities (though a sect of official Mormonism and not endorsed by the church) add a religious complication to the series.

In season one of �Big Love� we are introduced to Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), the son of a deadbeat polygamist and the grandson of a revered spiritual leader. Bill had no intention of marrying a second wife until his first wife, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) was stricken with cancer. Barb, formally a schoolteacher was unable to fulfill the household duties, or to fulfill her husband�s desires. This is where wife number two enters: Nicki (Chlo� Sevigny). Throughout Barb�s sickness Nicki was Barb�s caretaker; with time, Bill grew close to her and soon he sought the permission of his first wife to marry another.

Bill�s second marriage began a revival of a family tradition coined, �the principle� (i.e. plural marriage). From that point forward the patriarch viewed his multiple marriages not only as bonds of domestic necessity, but commitments of a spiritual nature reaffirming his religious and ancestral identity.

The next wife, Margene Heffman (Ginnifer Goodwin who portrayed Johnny Cash�s first spouse in �Walk the Line�) is the child of a broken home and alcoholic, abusive mother. Unlike the other wives, Margene is not from a particularly religious background, and she makes no apologies about her prior sexual relationships with other men. Like Nicki, Bill met Mergene in his day-to-day routine. Mergene worked with Bill at his burgeoning home improvement chain, �Home Plus,� which led to her employment as a family babysitter; she is younger than the other wives and a bit dimwitted, but a kind person nonetheless.

Roman Grant is Nicki�s father and a family nemesis who is believed to have ousted Bill�s grandfather from the church�s leadership. In the beginning of Home Plus� establishment, Bill and Roman agreed to become business partners; now that the franchise is expanding Bill wants to go solo. However losing his share in Home Plus is not the only concern for Roman who suspects that his son and law and brother in law are planning to reclaim their leadership of the Mormon sect.

�Big Love� is rated TV-MA and intended for mature audiences only