Big Love

TV review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Big Love TV Poster Image
For adults only, and for good reasons.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

One husband, three wives, and a father-in-law with a 14-year-old partner, not to mention the usual dysfunctional family relationships aired like too much dirty, tawdry laundry.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The first wife, Barb, devotes herself to holding this unusual family together even though polygamy wasn't her choice. Eventually she decides to pursue her own interests outside the home, which causes tension, but she is strong and makes it work despite opposition from her husband.


Guns are displayed here and there; a husband is poisoned by his wife; verbal jousts abound.


There's so much sex that sometimes it feels like it's the only thing the show is about. They talk about it, they do it, they bare it. Scenes have included Bill's naked butt, an erection shown through a blanket, and children talking about erections.


Some minor-league cursing ("damn").


One shopaholic wife has practically memorized all of the popular mail-order catalogs, reeling off labels like a doctor does medical jargon. But her behavior is portrayed negatively.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

So many other vices are indulged that there's little room for run-of-the-mill substances and dependencies, though the main character takes Viagra.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the main character in this edgy polygamy drama has three different families with three different wives -- but even with all of those families, very little in the show is appropriate for kids. Instead of focusing on how one man juggles three families, it focuses on how he satisfies his three wives. Everything else -- his job, his kids -- is less important. It's important to note that although this show is about polygamy, the characters are not Mormons.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byecw0647 March 1, 2011

Interesting show regarding the frailty of belief systems

What several other reviewers have failed to mention is that the show has a lot to do with belief systems and how we come to have certain beliefs, not to mention... Continue reading
Adult Written bysweetbearies January 21, 2009

Big Love Is Great

Great love is great with some stellar story lines. Yes there is quite a bit of sex, but this is an HBO series and what are you expecting. Big Love would proba... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bygyspie August 7, 2009

Great for teens, but not for kids.

Big Love has amazing story lines. It deals with mature things but overall is ok for teens to watch.
Teen, 16 years old Written bymarkaye2312 April 9, 2008


I found Big Love incredibly addicting and intriguing. It really gets you thinking about a wide range of issues including: religion, gender roles, family, and mo... Continue reading

What's the story?

HBO has made its bread and butter through its slate of quirky original series, and BIG LOVE is no exception. Unassuming, mild-mannered Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) owns a Home Depot-type store and maintains three wives in three adjacent homes that share a giant backyard. And that's not all -- they also share the ups and downs of a poly-amorous life. But the viewer is left without enough insight as to why four adults would decide to forge this unusual household (some episodes seem to indicate that sex -- and there's plenty of it -- is the main reason). It's bold stuff, garnering plenty of buzz for HBO.

Is it any good?

Too bad the producers couldn't restrict their focus to the entangled, sometimes mangled, relationships built into a situation of a family like this. Though Big Love is highly entertaining -- and compelling to watch given its stellar cast (including Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chloe Sevigny as two of the wives; Ginnifer Goodwin plays the third) -- the show does disappoint. Instead of mining its fascinating premise, creators have decided to dilute the series by introducing other unusual supporting characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's polygamy concept with older teens. Why would HBO make a show like this now? Since polygamy is often associated with the Mormon religion, despite the fact that the Mormons have long since banned the practice, could the show be considered an implicit lampoon or criticism of their faith? Or does it actually show some of the benefits -- or at least the complexities -- of the practice? Who is the intended audience? How does each character come to terms with the complexity of a "big love" household?

TV details

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