Watching Big Love

Back in 2009 Big Love was one of my favorite shows on TV, and I used to enjoy watching it weekly. I no longer subscribe to cable, but I genuinely did enjoy the first two seasons of Big Love on HBO, and highly recommend that you check out the show if you have never seen it. I began to lose interest in the series after the third season, but the first two seasons were very compelling to watch.

One of the shows I have been captivated by on HBO is Big Love, which is the odd tale of a polygamist family hiding who they really are. Since I do not follow the personal lives of actors extensively, I prefer to discuss my reactions to the things characters say and do in the story line This hub is only based on my interpretations, so other people may feel very differently than I do about characters such as Roman Grant or Alby on Big Love. Watching a show written by good writers is similar to reading a great book, except the action takes place in a shorter amount of time. I have a tremendous respect for the writers on Big Love because they are dealing with a unique subject material, and have to create a story line with a large number of characters. Many other series crumble when just following the lives of a few characters, but Big Love has survived into its third season because of the top notch writing on this series. To me, the writers are the consummate entertainers because without them we would not be able to see our favorite shows and movies. This second hub will be devoted to discussing the main characters I was not able to cover in the first installment.

As I discussed in the first part of this series Big Love deals with some issues that parents may not want younger children to see, such as sex and polygamy, but my view is that these are issues in our society and not things we can ignore. Big Love may not be an appropriate show for young children to watch, but if you do watch this show with your kids you at least discuss some of the issues with them. People have become victims by choosing to live in extreme religious cults. What I find the saddest about the polygamist cults is how the younger people who are forced to live in these cults, and adults that are afraid to leave because it is all they have ever known. Although Big Love is a dramatization of such issues, it does explore many of the challenges real-life polygamists and even monogamists go through in dysfunctional relationships. However, this show is still fiction, so keep in mind not everything is one hundred percent accurate at all times.

The Characters I Did Not Discuss In The First Hub

There are a large number of character on Big Love, so in the second part of this hub series I will be discussing the roles I find most interesting.

Harry Dean Stanton As Roman Grant:

The first role I remember Harry Dean Stanton in was as Andie's father(Molly Ringwald) in the movie Pretty in Pink. On Big Love Stanton plays Roman, the leader of the polygamist cult on Juniper Creek, which is the place where Bill was born and where his extended family still lives today. At the end of season two Bill learns that not his father, but Roman was responsible for throwing him off the compound as a teenager because of the jealousy and fear that he might one day be the leader. Bill is forever tied to Roman Grant because he married his daughter, which means Weber Gaming is one of the only solid ways to gain autonomy from his father in law and Juniper Creek.

Roman often only focuses on Bill and his dealing with the Henrickson's, which makes his son Alby very jealous. At the end of the first season Wanda (Bill's sister in law) poisons Alby by offering him lemonade with antifreeze in it, but his father is unwilling to punish her or the Henricksons for this misdeed. Wanda is a little nutty and that is why she poisoned Alby, but he actually believes all of the Henricksons were in on the attempt to kill him.  Alby is very paranoid, which can be attributed to the life he has lived on the compound were people scramble for Roman's affections and more power. Roman tells Alby to drop the obsession over Wanda poisoning him, but little does he realize how this will anger his son.

Bill is irate during the first season when he finds out Roman will get 15% of any Home Plus store he opens, so during the second season he moves to distance himself by purchasing Weber Gaming. Roman had wanted to purchase Weber Gaming, but Bill steals this business away. Bill plays Roman and the Greens off of each other, until the latter are tipped off to the authorities and driven out of town. The Greens send two women to shoot Roman because he ratted them out to the feds, which results in the aging patriarchy spending time in the hospital for a chest wound.

During Roman's hospital stay Alby comes to pick him up and decides to take him back to the compound. Alby and his wife drug Roman so he will remain in stupor, which allows his son to usurp power. Roman is rescued by his wife Adaleen Grant (Mary Kay Place) and taken to Nicki's house so he can be nursed back to health. Bill sees Roman being in home as an opportunity to take him out of power and place a trustee in charge of the UEB, which is the council that runs the business affairs of Juniper Creek. However, Bill is lectured by Barb to do the right thing and put Roman back in power. Bill decides to allow Roman to return to the compound upon the stipulation that he will allow the former to own Weber Gaming.

Roman agrees to back Bill, but on the way back to the compound he is arrested on charges of violating the Mann Act. Roman is sitting in jail awaiting the trial on charges that he forced underage girls to have sexual relations with him and other older men on the compound, but he still claims to be an innocent man. According to Roman he never did have sexual relations with women under eighteen because he and Rhonda were not married yet, but we do not know if he did this with other women or not. On one episode Roman says men who take very young wives are greedy, but later on we hear he told several women in their teens to listen to their husbands and submit. Roman is one of the religious cult leaders that actually seems to have brainwashed himself to believe that he is totally righteous and has done nothing wrong.

Although Roman claims he never forced underage girls to have sex, he is still fascinated by Rhonda and is very happy when she comes to visit him at the jail to say she will not testify against him. It is a little creepy when he gets excited about Rhonda visiting him again because her character is not even eighteen on the show, but Roman is near the age of eighty. Roman's character is very similar to FLDS polygamist leaders such as Warren Jeffs that that was convicted on charges of forcing underage girls to have sexual relations against their will. This is a very sad and troubling issue, but these things are happening and the show Big Love has done a well researched job of including these issues the storyline.

Roman's character seems to have a nicer side and he is a great guitar player and love to perform for his grandchildren.  Roman definitely has a soft spot for his daughter Nicki and some of his other children, and I see him as actually wanting to be close to Bill.  However, his negative personality traits such as lusting after power, forcing underage girls to marry older men, and not caring who he hurts in the process has cancels out some of his more positive attributes.

Matt Ross As Alby Grant:

Alby is the son of Roman Grant and the sister of Nicki Grant. Alby comes across as a very jealous man who balks when his dad gives more attention to Nikki and her husband Bill. As the first season progressed we saw Alby was living a double life because he would rather not be married to women, but his desire to be in charge of Juniper Creek allows him to keep up appearances. I think Alby has been very vendictive about going to the police to stir up charges against his father is because his family never truly accepted him for himself.

Even his mom makes fun of his homosexuality and says it would have been better if he had been killed when he was attacked by the man he arranged a date with at a public restroom. I was sickened by his mom's attitude towards her own son, which explains why Alby acts the way he does towards his family. Alby's father was constantly ignoring him and his own family made fun of his lifestyle because in their belief system it is not accepted, so no wonder he is angry and arranged to have his father removed from power.

I believe Alby would be a much happier person if he left his wives and walked away from Juniper Creek, but it remains to be seen if he will ever do that. I am not sure why he continues to stay on Juniper Creek since he is mistreated by his own family, but by becoming the new prophet he will have authority over his opponents and they will have to learn to respect him. I see Alby as a victim of a culture that he does completely agree with, but which he is afraid to leave because it is all he has ever known.

Amanda Seyfried As Sarah Henrickson:

Seyfriend is an up and coming actress who has starred in movies such as Mean Girls and Mama Mia. I found her acting ability astounding because she believably comes across as a teen who is troubled by her parents choice to be polygamists. On Big Love Sarah is one of the few main characters who actually sees polygamy as a curse, and she desperately wants life to go back to how things were when she just had one mom and dad.

Sarah often has to remind her family about how ridiculous their polygamous lifestyle is becoming, especially during this third season when her mom Barb gives the go ahead to start dating Ana as their potential fourth wife. If we were watching the show and did not see Sarah's perspective it would almost seem as if we were watching a modern and savvy FLDS propaganda piece about how polygamy is holy, normal, and perfectly acceptable.

However, I love how Sarah brings the show back to reality by telling her dad he has lost all crediblity with her, and she will never take relationship advice from him. Way to go Sarah! She actually has a head and is not afraid to express her opinions about her parents' decision to be polygamists, which is something that has been coerced upon her. It does not matter if Sarah does not want to marry a husband with several wives, because she gets to watch her dad's children instead. In many ways Sarah has to cow-tow to her parents choices, but she wants to get away and go to school in Arizona.

Her parents seem selfish about not wanting her to get away, but now Sarah finds out she is pregnant and might not be able to go to school out of state anyway. I was a little upset to see Sarah push her boyfriend Scott away because I see him as a great guy, but I am hoping she only did that because she is scared about her pregnancy. She does not want to be tied down to a man at a young age like her mom was, so it is undrestandable why she told Scott she did not love him. I think Sarah still loves Scott, but right now she is confused and just wants to go back to being a kid. Part of her reasoning for wanting to go to the prom seems to be she felt this would be the last fun thing she could do before having the adult responsibility of having a child. I wonder if she will decide to keep the child, or give it to her parents as next week's preview is suggesting. I guess we will just have to wait and see what she does.

Douglas Smith As Ben Henrickson:

Ben is a high school kid who is still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. During the first and second season he was dating a really nice girl called Brynn (Sarah Jones), but he seemed incredibly guilty about having pre-marital relations with her and asked her to marry him. Ben's parents were upset and thought he was too young to be engaged, but it seemed as if he only proposed because he was torn about wanting to date and please his parents. Eventually Ben admits that he may want to have more than one wife, so Barb decides to sit Brynn down and share the duties of "the principle" with her. Brynn breaks up with Ben because she does not want to be in a polygamist relationship ever, which upsets him incredibly.

However, Ben seems to become happy once again when he meets twins at Joey, Wanda, and Kathy's marriage party. During the second season Ben starts dating the twin sisters of Kathy and tells his parents now he wants to practice polygamy. Ben even announces at his grandma's wedding that he is a polygamist, and his sister and mom are not at all happy about this. Even though Barb has chosen to practice polygamy she does not want this for her children, and neither does his sister Sarah. However, when Sarah confronts Ben about this tells her that he wants to be just like their dad, which seems to be a breaking point for Sarah.

Ben is still in high school and getting ready to enter the air force academy when he graduates, but he seems to be headed for a future of polygamy. During this third season there has been no discussion as to whether Ben is still dating the twins, so I will be interested to see if this comes up at a later date.

Tina Marjorino As Heather Tuttle:

Tina Marjorino has starred in many movies such as Waterworld, Napoleon Dynamite, and Andre. I have always admired her ability to act and I must say her last name Tuttle on Big Love is just so cute. It reminds me of the movie The Tuttles of Tahiti, another favorite, but my mind tends to meander around if I do not put in in check.

Heather is the levelheaded friend of Sarah who gives her support and a healthy perspective outside of the world of polygamy. Last season Rhonda implied that Heather was really in love with Sarah and she would divulge this secret, but this may have just been a ploy on the part of Rhonda. It remains to be seen how Heather really does feel about Sarah, but she is a good friend that is always there during times when Sarah has acted less than responsibly. Ben and Heather both did not want to go hang out with Sarah at the wild party house where Frankie was staying, which shows she has a measure of common sense beyond her years. Later on she goes back with Sarah to Frankie's house and even agrees to be his date to prom. However, Frankie and Heather seem to actually have got along better than expected because they make out during prom. I wonder if next week it will turn out Heather decides to start dating Frankie, or maybe she was just keeping him company because he was drunk at prom.

So as you can see Big Love has an interesting variety of characters that will appeal to a large audience. I still want to discuss a few more characters because this show covers so many different issues, so I will probably have to make a third part to this series. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy Big Love if you get the chance to watch it.

Who is your favorite character on Big Love?

  • Bill Henrickson
  • Barbara Henrickson
  • Nicolette Grant
  • Margene Heffman
  • Sarah Hendrickson
  • Alby Grant
  • Joey Henrickson
  • Wanda Henrickson
  • Frank Harlow
  • Lois Henrickson
  • Heather Tuttle
  • Don Embry
  • Peg Embry
  • All of the characters
See results without voting

My favorite character is Sarah Henrickson, but I also like Barb, Nikki, Heather, and Margene.

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Comments 5 comments

Jennifer 7 years ago

I like Frankie and I think he is cute. Glad he got away from Juniper Creek.


HoopSkirtMan profile image

HoopSkirtMan 7 years ago

Another great hub. I think each of the characters has their own personal demons.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Jennifer,

I think Frankie will be a handsome man later on in future roles. It seems as if many of the people starring on Big Love are now being discovered and rediscovered, and going on to do many films because of it.

Hoopskirtman,

So true, I think every single character on this show is struggling with some very grappling issues.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

A new one on me but then I am in the UK and don't have cable :) Interesting review all the same


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 2 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Thanks, E! The first two seasons were intriguing because I had happened to read biographies about women who left polygamy, but after the third season the show started going off on some zany misadventures, and I lost interest. I would recommend the first two seasons for anyone who wants to understand more about the FLDS phenomenon.

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