Bill Paxton emotes after failing to blow down her throat the wad so desperately desired by wife #3.
As promised, my pithy analysis of “Big Love,” the new HBO show about a polygamist:
It sucks shit through Hefty bags.
I say this not just because it normalizes polygamy, or because it is all about a male lead and his penis, or because it is so blindingly honky and hopelessly hetero, or because it is all about patriarchy’s most popular correctional facility (marriage). No, I say it because the show merely superimposes a sensational taboo godbag motif over a bunch of lame-ass preexisting cultural stereotypes, throws in some de rigeuer HBO nudity, and calls itself edgy. Faugh.
The premise: Bill Paxton has three hot wives, each installed in her own McMansion. Paxton is trying, with supposedly tragicomic results, to integrate his secret polygamist home life with his mainstream professional career as the owner of a chain of home improvement stores. Meanwhile he struggles with his dark family background at “the compound,” a backwoods colony of polygamists mired in some 19th century patriarchal hell featuring pervy, power-mad child-fucker Harry Dean Stanton as king of the tribe.
The show opens with a close-up of Paxton’s package in a pair of tighty-whiteys and goes downhill from there. Surprise. His harem are all sex maniacs. He can’t hang. He googles Viagra. Man, that Viagra joke just never gets old!
Surprise again. Each of the sex maniac wives has a different stereotypical woman’s issue involving self-loathing and babies. Number 1 has had a hysterectomy, which invalidates her as a baby machine. Fertile Number 2 suffers from shopaholism; she cries like a baby after ordering a forbidden set of new curtains. Number 3 can’t lose the weight from her last pregnancy, and is debilitated by feelings of inadequacy both as a mother and as a giver of blow jobs.
In one of the more repellent scenes, the wives gather for a meeting wherein personal hubby-time is negotiated and assigned by Wife #1. Surprise again. Jealous tension among the wives, simmering just below the surface, is sure to explode in a satisfying catfight in some future episode. Just as tension between citified polygamist Paxton and his backward relatives at the compound will certainly end up in shots fired, or I’ll eat that disgusting chicken thing at TGI Friday’s I keep threatening to eat if I’m wrong.
“Big Love” is essentially the story of the many tragical burdens plaguing a guy in charge of a herd of housewives, about which any woman in her right mind will be saying “cry me a river.” The polygamy angle lends a sort of superficial sideshow freakiness, I suppose, but the tired old patriarchal themes—dude has career while women at home connive behind the scenes—are about as radical and transgressive as “I Love Lucy.” As a recent Bitch magazine article pointed out, if you want really subversive TV, watch “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”