Saturday, August 06, 2011

Dogma Gone Wild: "Big Love" HBO Soap Opera

Both the TV soap operas “Madmen” and “Big Love” are riveting with common themes and characters -- power greedy buccaneer entrepreneurs who are calculating and manipulative. Both are patriarchal figures. In the foreground of “Big Love” is strict adherence to an impossible behavior code that presents challenging conflicts for the participants. (I have always resisted behavior codes in my own special way).

These series are real American stories -- Madison Avenue and the contemporary Utah religious sect.

“Big Love” was referenced in a recent article in GQ magazine about American religions with the memorable line that "atheists in Manhattan and Southern Baptists in Alabama can agree on one thing: Mormons are crazy.” In the shows I watched there was no disclaimer distinguishing LDS from the FLDS which is a separate sect pursuing polygamy.

The central character Bill in “Big Love,” an aggressive entrepreneur, has several wives simultaneously and therein lies his joy and predicament. This is a cautionary tale for those contemplating multiple marriage arrangements. They have their down side as the series “Big Love” depicts in lurid detail. I concluded that the series prompted the LDS church to air commercials on the TV networks portraying LDS members as "regular citizens" and not monsters.

Bill is caught in the spinning vortex as a result of his actions and those of his wives with different agendas that he can’t control through force of will or by citing his destiny as prescribed by The Prophet. The series with its excellent acting and writing has concluded on HBO but DVDs are available for most seasons.