A patriarch who follows a moral code outside of the mainstream.
Three women who look for guidance from the same man.
Three attractive women in a long-term relationship with the same man.
Three women sharing a home.
Two of my favourite shows focus on the same situation in very different ways. Big Love, HBO’s polygamy drama, looks at the life of successful businessman and polygamist (the network is keen to point out he is not with the Church of the Latter Day Saints) Bill and his three wives. There’s “boss lady” Barbara, the feisty and curiously tomboyish Nikki, and the sweet and chirpy Margene. Big Love is a fine example of the sort of quality drama that represents American television at its best.
And it has an evil twin.
The Girls Next Door (Girls of the Playboy Mansion in the UK) is a strange reality television version of Big Love. The main protagonists have some startling similarities. Hugh Hefner (‘Hef ‘to the Girls) is the patriarch who takes charge and provides for his women. He funds their salon trips, sets the curfew, and guides their careers. The Girls themselves at first seem to be a world away from the Big Love wives, but if you take a closer look, the Girls become platinum blonde versions of the wives.
“Boss lady” is clearly the “Number One Girlfriend,” Holly Madison. She shares Hef’s bedroom, redecorates, and apparently recruited the other two girlfriends. Kendra Wilkinson is a 19-year-old who loves sports and once attacked Eminem on her blog. Hef’s Nikki is the sweet and chirpy counterpart to Big Love’s Margene. Bridget is the animal lover and master gift-giver. Her enthusiasm for life and the Playboy lifestyle is extraordinary.
Some polygamists have embraced the similarities. Why, they ask, is polygamy, in a legitimate and established religion, illegal when you can see a reality show about a polygamous relationship on E?
Amazingly, Hugh Hefner, who famously said “If you don’t swing, don’t ring” may become a poster boy for deeply religious polygamous sects.