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Loving Big Love, Disliking The Oscars

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So, you live in a Mormon family, not just a Mormon family, but a Mormon family that practices polygamy (I understand that the Mormon Church doesn't approve of the practice, I'm not suggesting they do).  You're the daughter of the first wife who was the only wife for quite some time.  You're uncomfortable with the very notion of polygamy and more than a little perturbed at your mom for allowing your dad multiple wives.

Polygamy aside, your parents are quite religious.  Sex before marriage is a big no-no, the very idea that you might be on the pill has practically caused your mom heart palpitations.  Man, if only she knew that your weren't on the pill (she didn't believe you when you suggested it), that you were instead knocked up.  Yeah, that wouldn't go over very well, in fact, it might get you booted from your family. 

The way I see it, that might be why you allowed yourself to get impregnated – the notion that your ties with your parents could be severed by them and not by you was, subconsciously, an attractive idea.  Obviously you would still be somewhat culpable for the ending of the relationship, but it would still be your parents that initiated that final confrontation.

Such has been the lot of Sarah Henrickson on Big Love this season, and it's been the most compelling storyline the family itself has had to deal with outside of the Juniper Creek hard-line Mormon compound in a long time.  Of course, the biggest problem for the show was how to have the storyline progress.  Sarah could always opt to tell her parents, get booted from the family, and the show could then have her go out on her own for a while.  Doable certainly, but that would only allow for a moment of conflict.  Having the baby in the bosom of the family doesn't seem like it would be true to the characters.  What then?

The show actually found a great way (great, not happy) out of it last night (so, if you didn't watch and don't want to know don't read anymore) – Sarah had a miscarriage.  The anger that her moms and dad ought to feel at her actions gets instantly pushed aside in favor of their fear and concern for their daughter.  Sarah will now be welcomed back into the heart of the family, and while there will be repercussions down the line for her actions, at this moment it's really all about making sure she's okay. 

It was a smart solution to the situation, one that allows for a big emotional scene now and the possibility of a lot more later.  The importance of family gets placed front and center, and their "big love" is shown.  See, television can be smart and compelling all at the same time.

The Oscars however, I didn't find all that compelling.  There was a moment pretty early on last night where it was clear that Hugh Jackman was neither going to be funny nor allowed to really "host" the event.  There was also a moment where it became clear that the Academy was going to award Slumdog Millionaire with every single prize it possibly could.  I'm not saying that it didn't deserve a lot of the awards it got, it just sort of eliminated the suspense, and suspense is really all that keeps people tuned in to a four-hour-long event like the Oscars.  It had some good moments, stuff like the Tina Fey-Steve Martin bits and Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix, but on the whole it was dry and felt awfully slow.  They may have completed the entire event in less than four hours, but it sure didn't feel like it. 

Did it?

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Shelly

    As much as I hate any family torn apart by prejudices, I really hate that Big Love uses Mormon jargon, terminology, and such to deceive the viewers into thinking it is about real Mormons. It’s not. Polygamists are a quirky bunch that has a perverted lifestyle and abandoned most of the Mormon principles in favor of breaking the law.

    It is a fascinating “story”, but even the clothing is not correct. If they could present the real facts and the real problems of these so called polygamists, I would enjoy it more. It’s hard to see the message, when all the details are fraudulent. It makes me wonder what the real motivations are behind the sitcom.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    This season of Big Love is indeed wonderful.

    But I disagree about the Oscar show — it was quite brilliantly produced, beautiful to look at, and the device of having 5 former winners salute the nominees in each acting category was inspired. Hugh Jackman was excellent, and nobody missed having an opening monologue when we got a Jackman number instead.

    Calling the Oscars boring seems a bit redundant anyway. It’s always boring by objective entertainment standards. But watched at a party with a group of movie loving friends, it can be a blast. [Wine helps.]

    And Sean Penn’s win and speech woke everyone up — at least at the party where I watched.