Monday, May 15, 2006

Leave the situation

Watching the "Big Love" on the HBO after "The Sopranos" and liking it... obviously, or I guess I wouldn't keep watching it. But I'm struck by the conclusion I keep drawing from every episode -- each character's troubles are caused by them denying what they really want. Which is to say, each character deep down wants a singular marriage, and the tension in the series comes from the plural marriage scenario.

I keep rooting for Ginnifer Goodwin's Margene to take her babies and leave to find a good (read: young) man who'll give her all the attention she needs. I want to see Bill Paxton's Bill Henrickson give Chloe Sevigny's Nicolette the boot back to the Juniper Creek Compound, leaving her to wend her way through life at her father's side. And I want Bill and Jeanne Tripplehorn's Barb to enjoy the quiet, sexy marital bliss they would so clearly enjoy were it not for the business of managing a huge, octopedic family unit.

Is this a brilliant conceit by show runners Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, to keep jangling the character's nerves so they never find equilibrium -- or, is it a black hole? Maybe I crave neatly-sanded edges too much and won't sit for uneasiness on this scale... but it feels like they're making a show about an idea akin to a gay man who's desperately trying to stay in the closet. There's drama and character tension, sure, but also a serially-portrayed dishonesty at its core.