Big Love

 
For adults only, and for good reasons.

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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

Sex

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.

Language

Some minor-league cursing ("damn").

Consumerism

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Bill Paxton, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Network:HBO
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Big Love was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous February 24, 2013
age 18+
 

In the show or Out it's not for kids.

All of the Contents all rolled into one show. This show is not for kids and kids in the show it's not for them nether.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bymborovsky April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

Not for kids

This program is not for kids maybe for teens but defonitally not for kids. It shows male nudity (butt) and in every episode there is sex. The main charictor has wives and the whole shoe is about pleasing them. He went to the DR to get Viagra and uses it in every episode.
Adult Written byShaDucky April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

Favorite Midnight Drama

My husband and I are crazy about this show. It is our sinfull thing that we can't tell anyone. The story is good, but there is a lot of sex and other questionable things. But I would not let kids in the room or in ear shot of the room (sex scenes are graphic at some points)! Have fun!
Teen, 16 years old Written bymarkaye2312 April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

Addictive

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 more. I thinking one of the biggest themes is what is 'good' and 'normal' and how things are rarely black and white. There is definitely a lot of nudity/sex and other mature elements, but depending on the teen I think it can be an okay show to watch, due to how the issues are handled. Appropriate for ages 15-17 (again depends) and up.

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