HBO’s ‘Big Love’ Locks Viewers in For Season-Three Family Drama

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No votes yet Television Rating: 4.5/5.0
Television Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – How does Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) do it on HBO’s “Big Love”? He has three beautiful wives, a sea of children, parents at war with each other, politics with a polygamist prophet and big business to control. And that’s just the beginning.

While several plots continue from season two and some are completely new in the third season, the plotlines that resurface make for especially compelling TV.

Guess who’s back? Ana (Branka Katic) – the love interest of Bill and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) from season two – is all of a sudden dating the Henricksons and now Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is the one encouraging it. Barb’s feeling change when she realizes what a new wife will mean for growing her family and how to do things on her terms.

Bill Paxton in season three of Big Love on HBO
Bill Paxton in season three of “Big Love” on HBO.
Photo credit: Lacey Terrell

Margene really steps up the game in season three. She’s working with Bill on his Weber Gaming business, just had the newest baby, is pushing Ana through her polygamist fears and working through issues about her mother. She fully accepts the polygamist lifestyle with love and passion. The love she feels for her family glows.

With Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton) in prison, polygamists are all over the news.

This not only puts more pressure on the Henricksons to take extra precautions but especially forces Nikki (Chloë Sevigny) to look at her family. While she loves her parents, you can also start to see her struggle with how she grew up. Always sneaky, the pain and love pulls Nikki away from the Henricksons to her father’s assistance and then back again when she’s afraid she might hurt the family she loves because of who she is.

Everyone in season three is hiding. As usual, the family is hiding its polygamy, but they are also hiding from each other. Why is Barb in the hospital? Who does Nikki’s job really help? Where is Sarah going to school? Why is she crying alone? How does this all impact the kids?

From left to right: Ginnifer Goodwin, Bill Paxton and Jeanne Tripplehorn in season three of Big Love on HBO
From left to right: Ginnifer Goodwin, Bill Paxton and Jeanne Tripplehorn in season three of “Big Love” on HBO.
Photo credit: Ron Batzdorff

The pressures of friends, neighbors and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) really come into play. The church separates the Henricksons with a map of the neighborhood. The Henricksons are listed as “inactive” while Nikki’s house is completely greyed out. Some of the neighborhood parents keep their kids away from the Henrickson kids and Nikki’s house gets TPed.

The story continues to enthrall with deep tension and seemingly never-ending plotlines. The real grab with this series is the push-pull the characters have with their lifestyle.

They bring you into a loving family that you root for even while you question it. You understand why they love and yet sometimes resent their situation. They see the pain that polygamy has caused so many in their family and yet they are also a part of it. You find yourself agonizing over their fears while being scared that their children will follow in their footsteps.

With brilliant acting, a rich story line and enough tension to keep you on your seat, it’s surprising “Big Love” has only been nominated for various Golden Globes and Emmy Awards with only one win from the BMI Film & TV Awards. Many have never seen this type of family story in any entertainment form. It’s fresh and still leaves you with a feeling of a normal family just trying to survive.

From left to right: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevigny in season three of Big Love on HBO
From left to right: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Bill Paxton and Chloë Sevigny in season three of “Big Love”.
Photo credit: Lacey Terrell

If you have been watching the last two seasons, you can understand all the plot points and how they skillfully fit together. But if you’re just now tuning in, you may find yourself wondering what on Earth is going on. The writing and acting pull you into the story quickly, but with so many plotlines, you may need to go back to the beginning of season two to fully grasp the family’s situation.

One particularly compelling message the show conveys is how every situation your family finds itself in can lead to the same feelings the Henricksons find with themselves. Every society tries to conform, control or restrict how you may want to live. Bill left the rules and regulations of the compound only to make a family that’s not as strict but still with a very ridged structure.

If the kids decide not to follow that path, they may find themselves in a religion that points out their flaws for the whole neighborhood to see. While everyone judges everyone, we all want to fit in and belong to something larger than ourselves. We all have to decide what we’re willing to give up to fit in. How much does our family mean to us? We all hide who we are sometimes. Out of love, many of us choose the path that isn’t necessarily the best on paper.

“Big Love” is themed around a feeling that it’s almost impossible to get out. The HBO show never leaves the Mormon community. While you see the positive parts of being in the community, you can also feel the pressure that you cannot leave. In much the same way the characters in “Big Love” feel trapped, so will its viewers feel locked into riding out the entirety of season three.

“Big Love” on HBO stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Amanda Seyfried, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Branka Katic, Harry Dean Stanton and Douglas Smith from creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer. Season three of “Big Love,” which began on Jan. 18, 2009, airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. staff writer Lauren Huelster Fendelman

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