The more we watch Big Love the more disturbed I become by it and I’ve been trying to put my finger on what exactly makes it so difficult for me to want the characters to overcome their obstacles. My husband and I have been having these really outrageous discussions as a result, “Well, they’re the protagonists and they’re nice people, so I’m just rooting for them to succeed at what they’ve chosen – I don’t understand why you’re not, you root for the most immoral protagonists all the time! Why do you judge these people so harshly?” he asked.
And so I had to think about that. Because I find myself looking incredulously at my husband going, “I can’t believe you don’t think Bill's a creep! What is wrong with you?” And what is strange about that is my husband is rather quite moral (and normal) compared to me and so ninety-nine percent of the time it’s me who sympathizes with the “bad” character while my husband shakes his head and says, “I can’t even believe I’m married to you.”
As a for instance, we saw Rent on Broadway way back when and at the end my husband was holding me while I cried and cried, and he very sensitively said, “Baby, why are you crying? They’re just a bunch of homeless druggies – if they’d get a job they wouldn’t have all those problems.”
He’s a real bleeding heart, my husband.
But the time I disturbed him the most was when we were watching Six Feet Under and Brenda had random sex with some dude on a public restroom floor. As I went on and on about how disgusted I was, he squinted his eyes and said, “You’re not the least bit annoyed that she cheated on her fiancé or had random sex with a stranger – you’re just upset that she did it on the floor of a public restroom?”
“Well, yes!” I said, “That’s disgusting! What the hell is wrong with people?”
See - I can be flexible on morality, but hygiene is another matter entirely.
Which begs the question, why can't I live and let the polygamists live?
As I summed up the situation for my husband, I discovered the answer. “So basically,” I said, “When Bill’s wife was sick with cancer, another woman hung around the house a lot to take care of her and he decided he’d kinda like to bone her so (isn’t this handy) GOD gave him a ‘testimony’ telling him he should be a polygamist.”
Aha! NOW I know why I’m so irritated. Because listen, it’s human nature to find yourself attracted to people who aren’t your spouse, nothing cosmic or extraordinary about the experience. It happens. And if you want to divorce and move on or have an affair in secret or tell your spouse you’d like to have a threesome or whatever floats your boat – good luck with that, your business, not mine. But don’t blame God for your inability to keep your lust in check, because that just pisses me off.
But my husband argues on, “They all chose to be there, just because it’s not what you would choose, why can’t you hope they work things out? You just want them all to get the hell out of there.”
No, I don’t, I told him. Actually I think Nicki and Bill deserve each other and should move back to the compound with the rest of the in-breds. It’s just Barb and Margene who I want to get the hell out of there. It would be different if the whole thing was more egalitarian, but the way that each of the women have to be a hundred percent devoted to Bill and he can do whatever he wants, including develop another relationship with yet another potential “wife” at his whim is just irritating. (And I’m not even exploring, at this point, how he’s created two families of children who will never be able to acknowledge they even know who their dad is in public – how revolting is that?)
This led me to further examination of my own inability to just accept these people, because really, if I were a feminist worth her salt, I would root for Barb and Margene to make it work, because they really did choose to be there. They both know better and they both have options. The person I should sympathize with is Nicki – she’s the one who’s been indoctrinated since birth that she’s chattel and that she can only go to heaven by being a plural wife. But then it’s hard for me to sympathize with her, both because she seems to actually be satisfied with the situation (therefore what business is it of mine) and she just – you know, she just bugs me.
Whenever I suggest to my husband that Bill has it made and the women and children all suffer he says, “Bill is SO screwed and totally trapped – all those people to support, all those women bitching at him all the time – nobody would want that dude’s life – you’re crazy.”
“Maybe,” I conceded. “Definitely he doesn’t have it as nice as the compound guys whose wives do whatever they say and can’t ask for anything in return except sex.”
“Yeah,” my husband raised his eyebrows at me, “see that’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
Which under ordinary circumstances might lead to a laughing wrestling match, but this show does not bring out the best of my sense of humor.
And I know I shouldn’t push my Victorian romantic values on others, but aside from Barb’s unrequited (and disappointed) love for Bill, no one seems to really love each other on that show. I mean isn’t it weird how none of them seem to be emotionally involved? Anytime any of the women are upset about something Bill just shrugs them off (or shags them off, whichever) and he doesn’t share anything with any of them (maybe Barb a tiny bit here and there) – none of them are close to each other in any meaningful way. They’re all on their own emotionally speaking in this very utilitarian business-like arrangement. You know, like what did they say at the altar?
Wives: “I promise to love you and only you no matter what.”
Bill: “I promise to put a roof over your head and have obligatory sex with you every third night.”
I’m serious – what else does he do for any of them? Maybe I just don’t get it and I just can’t manage to open my mind up enough and I’m just a grouchy old hag, but Mother of God that show gets under my skin. What’s worse – I can’t wait to watch the next episode. Am I the only one?