Wednesday, April 05, 2006

When you mention Chloe Sevigny, a debate about women's subjugate role in film and television cannot be far behind; or A review of HBOs "Big Love"

When I watch HBO's new Sunday night drama "Big Love," I can't help but think of Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends.

The show is about a man with three wives, and the best of the early plotlines involves the interaction among the wives, the rampant oneups(wo)manship and the way they shirk responsbility down the chain from first wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn as Barbara) to the second (My title woman Chloe as Nicolette) to the third (Ginnifer Goodwin's Margene).

The first couple episodes seemed designed purely to titillate, but now we've moved into the nitty gritty of polygamy and the bizarre relationship between protagonist Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his second father-in-law Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton), who heads a controlling and downright chilling religious sect from which Bill broke free.

The show has all the hallmarks that have made HBO Sundays so great. The acting is fine and rarely overdone, and the episodes are deep enough they benefit from a day or two of reflection.

Case in point: While on a hunting trip, Bill tells his son that he should always give wild animals a wide berth. Later, a wolf threatens them and Bill kills it. It's a metaphor for the threat posed by Roman, and shooting the wolf presumably foreshadows the coming fight between Bill and Roman. The real wrinkle of enjoyment is the clever interplay between Roman and the wolf: Rome, founded by brothers who were raised by wolves.

But all the metaphors in the world won't save the show, unless it gives an honest accounting of why three women would choose to share a husband. The early clues are there, and there's no reason to think the show won't uncover those answers if it lasts long enough.

However, if the show takes the easy way out, it might do more to turn women into caricatures than the quartet from one of HBO's former Sunday night stalwarts, Sex & the City.



Blogger Jack McDoer said...

we love the show. me and my wife. and my 2 other wives.

April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Sebastian Dangerfield said...

With Chloe Sevigny (been a fan since Kids) in mind….

Had Mr. S. Dangerfield, Esq. directed The Brown Bunny- at the conclusion of that scene: "All right, all right. That was good people, but there's a je ne sais quoi we didn't quite capture there, let's reshoot from the top in 20 minutes."

April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Some Guy said...

when are they all going to make out?? That's the only reason I watch.

April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Kev said...

though Mr. Paxton does have signs of impotence at this early stage, I'm looking forward to a future episode where he may shout out his most famous line a la "Aliens" when in the middle of some unsuccessful coital scene: "Game over, man! Game over!"

April 07, 2006  

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