Monday, March 13, 2006

Under the banner of HBO

Play it: "God Only Knows" The Beach Boys (Big Love theme song)

Long before the premiere last night of HBO's new sweet spot (following The Sopranos) drama, controversey brewed. For those that have read the scary non-fiction novel Under the Banner of Heaven (by Jon Krakauer,) or seen the famous ABC News Primetime, you're no stranger to the fascination with polygamy in some FLDS sects near the Utah/Arizona border (Colorado City.) Big Love tries to take a look at it matter-of-factly, without getting too heavy-handed in judgement about polygamy itself.

The show starts off with a sunny-enough beginning... using The Beach Boys "God Only Knows" not only sets up a sort of rose-colored glasses feeling, but also gives a sly commentary with the song title and chorus.

The focus is on Bill Hendrixon (Bill Paxton,) his three wives and immediate family. They live in a suburban dream-like surrounding (just outside SLC,) and for all practical purposes, seem like any normal family... aside from the shared husband and backyard (each wife has their own house.) It's really through the families of Bill and third wife Nicki - played by the exquisite Chloe Sevigny - where we see the scary Under the Banner of Heaven/ABC Primetime scariness going on. Both grew up in the compound run by a self-proclaimed prophet (Roman, played by the amazing Harry Dean Stanton,) and were either forced out (Bill, at age 14 by his father Frank - played by Bruce Dern,) or escaped via marriage (Nicky, who is daughter to Roman.) Ultimately, it's the FLDS that's being looked at here with eyes wide open, and the LDS (Mormons) appear to be portrayed fairly (and not polygmous.) But I doubt touchy reps of LDS will get that. It's part of their religion's history, and they're understandably defensive about it, but it's still intertwined with their prophets teaching, and thus will be a difficult tie to cut completely in public (and private) perception.

Apparently, polygamy is the next civil rights battle.
HBO's Big Love site
Big Love's BBS has some heated discussions

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