Polygamy! Fvck Yeah!

[cross-posted from The 'Verse where comments are enabled]

Talking facetiously about HBO's new series Big Love, of course, which is about a suburban polygamist family dealing with the stress of (a) living the polygynous lifestyle and (b) hiding that not-quite-legal and definitely-socially-unacceptable fact from their suburban, primarily LDS neighbors. A show about polygamy has, of course, caused a major outcry amongst the usual suspects (socialcon-ery writ large), who point to it as further evidence of the evil of gay marriage.[1] First, its gays. Then, the Mormons! Or something.

Like the socialcons and NROniks, I have also not seen any of the episodes of the series in question/opprobrium. My excuse is that I don't have HBO and none of my friends have recorded it so that I may watch it at their place[2] to see for myself. Unlike them, I've gone to read the most excellent recaps of the series thus far on Television Without Pity,[3] and seriously, if anyone can read that and come away thinking that the show is in any way pro-polygyny, that person has a seriously warped view of the world (or is FLDS anyway, I suppose).

(spoilers ahead)

From the first episode we have the polygynist-in-chief, Bill Henrickson, suffering from stress-induced limp noodle syndrome, likely as any caused by the fact that he has three wives, all of whom see him 2.3(bar) nights a week and thus all require their average 2 times a week nookie (leaving him only 0.333 nights off). Now, some folk would just see the "he has sex with 3 women multiple times every week, one of them a 22 year old hottie" and conclude that this is all some great deal for the guy, and play the world's smallest violin for his performance troubles. But we can't leave it at that- the guy also has 3 mortgages, 3 cars (soon 4) to pay for, seven kids to feed and maintain, and a successful retail business to run. Holy crap on a plate, Batman.

Of course that's not all; he also has the in-law from hell, the Warren Jeffs stand-in running an old-school polygamist commune in the sticks of Utah that has his evil hand in Bill's back pocket, and is the primary driver of plot angst amongst our would-be happy suburban polygamists.

But crazy polygamist cult problems aside, its clear that the arrangement is far from a deal for any of the individuals involved. In the course of the series so far, we see a number of problems:

* Neither of the new wives have the same emotional/intimate connection with Bill as the first, and the first is now saddened by the fact that her own intimacy with her husband has been diluted.

* The flip side is that Bill is also denied real intimacy with his wives, dealing with them all equally and thus giving quality time to none of them; the polygynous arrangement has essentially estranged him from intimacy, relegating him to "head of household" and material provider / top of heirarchy. Which certainly seems a big step back in terms of personal fulfillment.

* Being spontaneously romantic with his original/first wife, and engaging in playful & intimate sex, instead of a good thing for long-married couples, is in this context considered an 'affair' and frowned upon. When intimacy is a problem and not a reward of marriage, so much the worse for that kind of marriage in my book.

* The practical life problems for the children of the "other wives"- they can't have Bill's name, and legally and in the larger social world, they have no father. They, too, have to live a lie, especially given the fact that within the extended family it is open that he *is* their father and that he *is* married to their mothers. This sort of disconnect between family life and social life is no doubt going to get worse and worse for the four kids outside of the legal family.

* Following that point, his legal children also get short shrift, and his eldest child (who lived most of her life with her parents-as-monogamists) is embarassed and ashamed of her father & the lies that the family have to live because of the polygamy.

* Notwithstanding the emotional and social isolation of everyone involved, there is of course the problem of finances; its hard enough being dual-income households these days let along being a 1.5 income-over-3 households family. 7 kids?

Seriously, this is more like "Reefer Madness" or "Blood on the Highway"- if anything its severe monogamy propaganda (at least anti-polygamy, and perhaps so traumatizing to some viewers as to be anti-marriage, period). Which, of course, makes it sound like excellent TV, which I'd love to see if anyone has a copy (for their own purposes) to let me borrow. :D In any case, the NROniks and socialcons should be *praising* HBO for this show; it's doing their work in encouraging traditional marriage better than they are.


fn1. Yes, I know it doesn't really follow that extending a monogamous/pair model of marriage to homosexuals implies plural marriage, but in the odd world of socialconnery, some deviation implies all deviation.

fn2. And not at all because I can't find it on download services. I'd never do that, honest. Fie on you apostates from RIAA/MPAA orthodoxy!

fn3. Written by your excellent host, Sobell. Party on, Sobell. As long as she's not actually Lt. Sobel from Easy Company/Band of Brothers. Because that Sobel was a tool.

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