TV: HBO's 'Big Love' takes more satirical jabs at LDS Church
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
To anyone worried that the HBO drama "Big Love" might give the LDS
Church or Utah's image a black eye - wait until you see what's next.
While the controversial series thus far has been tame in its
portrayal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, several
upcoming episodes take some hilarious - and I think fair - swipes at
Mormon culture and procedure.
As we all know (unless you've been living in a ward basketball
gym), "Big Love" is HBO's new one-hour drama about a polygamist living
in Sandy. Bill Paxton plays Bill Henrickson, owner of a chain of
home-improvement stores who juggles a growing business, three wives
and seven children.
Since the debut of "Big Love, which airs Sundays at 11 p.m.,
polygamists and anti-polygamists, along with LDS Church leaders and
rank-and-file Mormons, have expressed concern about how the series
portrays our corner of the world.
In the last couple of weeks, critics of the series - most of them
Mormon - launched an e-mail campaign protesting the series and sent
hundreds of complaints to HBO.
Well, they'll have something to complain about now. In the April 23
episode, Bill seeks the help of a marketing team to advertise his
stores. In one hysterical scene, the marketing executive pitching her
idea to Bill and his partner shows them a picture of a frumpy woman
whose sacred garment lines are showing. The marketer points out that
Utahns will respect the woman because she wears temple garments.
Another scene that might steam LDS members involves two Mormon
missionaries who visit Nicki, one of the sister wives played by Chloe
The two are portrayed as pushy, self-righteous and suspicious
church representatives who won't take "no" for an answer. When Nicki
literally kicks them off the porch, one of them pulls out a notebook
and jots down her address as an "uncooperative."
"So what?" you non-Mormons might be asking right now. In my
experience as a non-Mormon, I've met some missionaries who behaved
that way, though not to the degree shown in that scene.
In one storyline, the Henricksons' neighbor, a Mormon ward bishop,
and his wife befriend the youngest sister wife, Margene (Ginnifer
They're portrayed as nice but overly perky and nosy people who
subtly try to get Margene to learn more about church doctrine. In one
especially funny scene, the three go to dinner and - you never see
this in a TV restaurant scene - order diet Sprite and 2 percent milk.
Anything can be parodied - even religion, death, disability or
ethnicity - if the parody is truly funny and contains a kernel of
Will some Mormons be offended by these scenes? Probably. Whether
that will add fuel to the furor over "Big Love" is hard to say.
I don't think it should. After all, Mormon missionaries have been
the target of some pointed parody, from "Saturday Night Live's"
hilarious skit about missionaries trying to convert an Olympic skier
on the slopes to the outrageous story of "Orgazmo," a movie about a
missionary who becomes a porn star.
If we take a good, hard look at ourselves and Utah culture, we
realize there's plenty to laugh at. And we're the ones who should be
laughing the loudest.
Television columnist Vince Horiuchi appears Mondays and Fridays.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-257-8607. For more
television insights, visit Horiuchi's blog, "The Village Vidiot," at
http://blogs.sltrib.com/tv/. Send comments about this column to