Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The More the Merrier

I am just over halfway through watching the first season of Big Love on DVD. I can't remember another time when I've been so distracted by the subject matter of a story - book, film, or TV show - that I have a hard time enjoying or even noticing excellent writing, acting, production, and music. Usually, I'm able to appreciate any work that succeeds in what it set out to do - gory horror flicks, slow drama, crime movies with unlikable heroes - as long as the task has been completed with intelligence and complexity.

Big Love is smartly written, it has complex story arcs and interesting characters. The whole production is well thought-out and it even features music by Uber-cool guy David Byrne. It portrays a way of life that could be happening right now in America. Its actors are believable and well-cast. Its premise is fascinating; polygamy is one of those forbidden lifestyles that everyone wonders about but no one really understands how it works on a day-to-day basis.

However, it simply depresses me every time I watch it. Not because I've always found polygamy distasteful (I didn't really have an opinion before I watched this show) or because the characters have terrible lives (most of them don't). I think it's because the show succeeds too well. Its most sympathetic character, Jeanne Tripplehorn's Barb, is so relatable that I feel more and more distressed for her and for her children every episode.

What does it say about me that I can watch all kinds of creepiness on shows like CSI but can't handle polygamous domestic conflict? And if it bugs me so much, why am I still watching?

4 comments:

Veronica Mitchell said...

I used to feel the same way every time I read Genesis.

MollyB said...

Since my tv-time is limited to business trips, I've only caught a few scattered episodes. My impression was that the show does a good job of showing the complications of 'socially acceptable' (as opposed to the 11 women on single-mother welfare living in trailers), well-intended polygamy.

I'd be interested in hearing more about what bothers you.

Blythe said...

Without becoming too much of a navel-gazer (oh, who am I kidding, I write a blog), I think family conflict in general makes me really uncomfortable, so if you multiply that by three wives and an exponential number of in-laws plus religious issues, that's probably where it starts to send me over the edge.

EuroTrippen said...

I've had Big Love sitting on my shelf for quite some time. Not sure what my aversion is to it... I guess just a general feeling that it's not for me.

Which, knowing me, means I'll love it...