But, well, in your face, naysayers: Who could have guessed at the tumultuous yet eminently logical chain of events that have led the Henricksons to this perilous pass? Certainly not me, not even armed with a Ryder-Waite deck.
Not only have there been naysayers, there have also been detractors: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently decried Big Love for blurring "the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show’s fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices," i.e. polygamists practicing polygamy. Understandably, the LDS Church--concerned as it is with its own image--has never been overly thrilled about the show, and would probably prefer the whole polygamy issue to go away entirely.
But isn't the Church, well, missing the boat a bit here? The thing that makes Big Love so thrilling and iconoclastic is its unapologetic portrayal of polygamists, not as infallable saints nor as depraved monsters, but as human beings. I refuse to believe that my own ancestors--stern and resourceful Mormon pioneers who were undeniably polygamist, at least before 1890--were somehow depraved, duped or stupid. They were none of those things.
I cannot fully understand what life was like for them, but I do know that they drew much strength from their spiritual beliefs, and were willing to make unimaginable sacrifices for their faith. I also know that their religion comprised many unusual and arcane practices, and one important component of their faith was the principal of Celestial Marriage.
Today, the LDS Church is quick to reject these beliefs and practices, and it's clear that the religion of my pioneer ancestors--the one that inspired them, against all odds, to populate a barren desert--bears little resemblance to the modern Church. I find this more than a little sad.
Big Love represents the first major opportunity for the Church to genuinely embrace its history, yet it continues to reject the past for appearances' sake--and, in doing so, it insults the memory of the courageous folk to whose fierce determination it owes such a debt of obligation. This self-obsession with its own image is narcissism, plain and simple.
Now, by show of hands, who knew that Bill Paxton is the same actor who, in the '80s,
performed sort of implied the performance of an unspeakable act in the Barnes & Barnes music video "Fish Heads"?: