Recently I tried to start watching “Big Love”, based on the fact that several people whose opinions I respect love it, and one of them even works behind the scenes on the show, which is filmed not too far away in Santa Clarita. One of these friends had told me, in response to my questioning whether I should watch an HBO original series because of their typically graphic nature, that this one wasn’t bad. I should have taken into account, however, that we had just been talking about “True Blood”, and compared to that one, a reality show called “The Caligulas” wouldn’t be “that bad”.
My frustration with the show, as with most of HBO’s original series, is that it is ridiculously sexually graphic when it does not need to be. Granted, this is a show about a man married to three women, and sex would be part of their marriage. But it is also a series about people who believe in a certain religion, and the artistic minds behind the series could have chosen conservative suggestions of intimacy as an alternative, and as a means of encapsulating the moral beliefs of the characters. This would have been the road less traveled, and would have set the series apart.
Alas, HBO did not choose this way for this show, at least in the time I spent with it. I made it through two episodes of the first season of “Big Love”, and could have easily stuck around for the story. It seemed to be building to a nice level of intrigue, and made its audience voyeurs into the strangeness of the world, while also making its characters relatable. Not an easy task. It quickly turned a fictionalized family belonging to a segment of society which is “othered” into one that, within the conetx of the show, becomes the normal. This is accomplished quickly by the creation of characters whose lives are even more foreign. I found myself wishing “Big Love” would pull a “Sex and the City”, and air on TBS or somewhere in syndication. That way I could get the story without all the graphic sex scenes.
I’m not opposed across the board to sex scenes in film or television, if their inclusion accomplishes what cannot be accomplished without it, and is done in a truthful light. However, one scene in a two hour movie, for me, is much less invasive to the purity of my mind than multiple scenes per show in a five or six season run. Some might argue that HBO exists to make content of this nature, but I am a huge fan of the channel’s original movies, going back to “And the Band Played On.” “Conspiracy” is another excellent original HBO movie, and neither of these in any way exhibit the lack of restraint shown in their original series. I am disappointed. I wanted it to work out with me and “Big Love”. Oh well.