Big Love, Big Issues

Big Love, Big Issues The new HBO series, Big Love, has created quite a stir among media watchers, cultural critics, and Mormons. Why the buzz? The show centers on the family of Bill Hendrickson, the owner of a growing chain of home-improvement stores who owns three homes of his own, each occupied by one of his wives and their children. HBO is known for producing series that explore unusual families (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under). But suburban polygamy? Given its uncomfortable history with its polygamist past and the great lengths the Church has gone to in order to distinguish today’s Mormonism from its nineteenth-century incarnation, LDS leaders have been less than comfortable with the series, urging producers to place disclaimers in the credits and issuing statements to the press and local Mormon leaders clarifying the current LDS stance toward the practice of polygamy. In contrast, however, some Latter-day Saints are quietly pleased that Big Love has come along because it is forcing a fresh discussion of polygamy and the difficult balancing act Church leaders have tried to perform over the past century of renouncing the practice while never denouncing the doctrine of plural marriage. In this session, panelists will talk about the series and the issues it raises. How many families like the Hendricksons live in the United States today? How accurate are the series’ portrayals of the joys and trials of plural families? What might the fallout, both positive and negative, be for the LDS Church now that the series has become a hit and will be a player in America’s culture wars?

Rory Swensen, Anne Wilde, Mary Batchelor, Richard Dutcher, Doe Daughtrey