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Culture Lust by Angela Carone

Big Love after Sex in the City

As Alessandra Stanley pointed out in the NY Times last week , what's up with all the television shows focusing on the struggles of modern marriage? Is this just post-Sex in the City malaise? Have we drunk one too many cosmopolitans in the name of frivolity and sexual shenanigans in television land? Are we now to suffer soberly in a world of pent up frustrations, sexless marriages, and dramatic DTR's ?

Even Stanley admits it's depressing to look at the institution of marriage so closely, whether it's in a new HBO series with graphic sex or in an AMC breakout hit set in the 1960's, a time when marriage looked considerably different (I checked out Mad Men on demand this weekend and really liked it - more on that later).

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But conspicuously missing from Stanley's article is the HBO show Big Love , which is all about marriage: the polygamous version. The depiction of marriage in Big Love is far from depressing. It's definitely disturbing at times, thought-provoking at others, and often strangely amusing. The show follows the Henrickson clan, led by Bill and his three wives, Barb , Nicki and Margene , each of whom have multiple children by Bill.

What's interesting to me about marriage in Big Love is how the show considers an option few of us would ever consider. What would it take to even consider a polygamous marriage? Once there, what are the compromises you would have to make? Every marriage requires compromises and, sure, in polygamy those are considerable. But many a marriage withstands marital infidelity -- the mistress kept in an apartment in the city, known to the wife all along. And, are there benefits to the polygamous lifestyle? How do they stack up against the breach of monogamy?

Kelly
August 21, 2007 at 04:26 AM
Nice opening paragraph, Ms. Carone. -----