"This is a glimpse of a family that is mainstream," Mary Batchelor, a 37-year-old mother of seven and director of "Principle Voices," a leading polygamy advocacy group, said of the Henricksons.Batchelor. I love when the real life names seem like a screenwriter's concoction.
"There are hundreds of these families. It shows an aspect of polygamy nobody ever sees. Before, you saw families in crisis." She referred to media images of men being carted off to jail for beating women or children or marrying child brides.Uh-oh, the NYT is helping the anti-gay marriage crowd with its slippery slope argument!
"This is making all of America say 'Why is there a law against polygamy?' " said a 55-year-old woman who wanted to be known only as Doris, because she feared repercussions at her new job after years of staying at home with her 14 children in suburban West Jordan. "This guy is just trying to support his family, and the family is just trying to make it."
While the women said "Big Love" had too much skin and not enough religion or humor for their taste, they agreed that it portrayed the Henricksons like any other American family, especially in an era of mixed marriages of all sorts, gay partnerships, single parents and serial monogamy.
The show is written by two gay men, by the way, which makes us tend to assume that they want the show to bolster the argument for gay marriage. From the Times article:
The creators of "Big Love," Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer (who along with the actor Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are the executive producers of the series), said in a telephone interview that they were hearing all the criticisms and compliments. The show was conceived as a prism through which to look at the "struggle for the common good over the individual good" that exists in any family, Mr. Olsen said. He and Mr. Scheffer are partners in real life.It sounds to me as though they are trying to write a complex story. You can't make good shows if the main thing you are thinking about is your political agenda. Olsen and Scheffer have created a great set of characters, with immense dramatic potential, and they need to let things happen without paying too much attention to how everything will affect various political issues.
"The pro-polygamists think it's too dark," Mr. Olsen said. "The anti-polygamists don't think it's dark enough. I think we've split the baby down the middle." The men said they spent almost three years researching the show, talking to experts and reading everything from sociological tracts to official Mormon records.
Mr. Scheffer said future episodes would explore some of the darker aspects of polygamy, like the abuses of patriarchy.
In the most recent episode -- the third one -- they had a character who was explaining polygamy say "We're like the homosexuals." But I didn't get the sense the writers were trying to sell us that argument. When a fictional character says something, we always have to wonder whether that's something to believe or resist. If we didn't, it wouldn't be art.