Big Love, season 1 (2006) and season 2 (2007), by creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer

I understand the inherent difficulties in writing an analysis about a series that deals with polygamy—and not polygamy in some distant time or place, but polygamy in present-day Utah. The practice of polygamy is such a difficult question precisely because it seems so premodern, and we Latter-day Saints have done such a fantastic job of embracing the conditions of modernity. (As a youth, I remember a fireside speaker referring to ours as a “space-age” religion, contrasting it against other religions whose doctrines hampered them from modernizing.) Some might object to a review of Big Love in BYU Studies because the series does not represent the Mormon image, and therefore it should not be discussed in a publication dedicated to Mormon issues.

Two clarifications will hopefully answer this objection. First, this is not a review proper. I am not reviewing Big Love as a television critic and giving it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Quite frankly, the entertainment value of the show is irrelevant. This review is an analysis of the series’ images and possible cultural impact. (Briefly: yes, the show is entertaining, but it does contain offensive material such as sexual situations and occasional harsh language.)

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 47:2
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