Not That You Asked: The Women of “Big Love”
So they’re back on HBO, those wacky polygamist Henricksons, along with their equally wacky entourage of chilling-yet-oddly lovable sociopaths in bolo ties and leg-o’-mutton sleeves. (Seriously, anyone trying to make a case for the heritability of mental illness needs to look no further than the wilderness loony bin of Juniper Creek, a perfect Dust Bowl storm of nature and nurture.)
I’m not going to bother giving any advice to Bill, the venally earnest paterfamilias of the ibn Henricks (as some Muslims are polygamists too–do you see what I did there?) for a couple of important reasons: A) Bill is a complete moron; B) I am a women, and according to Bill’s particular brand of theology, am thus incapable of receiving coherent testimony from God on account of it gets lost somehow in the echo canyon of my vagina, all smudged up and nasty from period blood and baby ooze, and by the time it comes out of my mouth it has all the significance of the comments of an LOL Cat when confronted with a particularly challenging hunk of cheese; C) besides, Bill never listens to anyone but Bill, and Bill is a moron (see A.) But I will say this: if Bill should be married to anyone on the show, it should be Don. That’s right, Don, his partner in business and God, whose quavering Barney Rubble sycophancy to Bill’s every harebrained scheme belies an deep yearning for some firm fatherly top to take him by the hand and in the immortal words of Duck Phillips (I watch way too much television) give a going over like he’s never had before. Bill and Don are soulmates. If all were right in Utah they’d be happily spending eternity together in the Celestial Kingdom, browsing a heavenly Pottery Barn for tastefully masculine throw pillows and having Alby Grant and that UEB Trust lawyer guy with the big hips over for moonlit backyard lobster bakes.
But unless some HBO exec gets really crazy with a spin-off series, that’s not going to happen. So I’ll focus my energy on the ladies. Some of this advice may conflict, so it’s up to you guys who takes it first. (WARNING: THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Barb: You know Barb, I know that you wouldn’t like to hear this, with your chipper can-do attitude, but you’re the one I actually feel the sorriest for in this. Your husband–with whom you had what seemed like a genuine normal marriage, not to mention three beautiful children–received testimony from God (otherwise known as his penis) that he needed to suddenly turn back to polygamy after renouncing it because why? Because your marriage was loveless? Sexless? Because you’d had a endless string of affairs and it seemed only fair that he have a chance to play the field? No. It was because YOU BARELY SURVIVED A GRUELING BOUT OF UTERINE CANCER AND COULDN’T HAVE ANY MORE CHILDREN. (Apparently the option of surrogacy or even adoption was abandoned right out of the gate.) I always wonder when Bill told you he felt “called” to start in-wedlock fucking the hot blonde from the compound who was at least fifteen years younger than you and apt to be extremely catty about your fashion choices. I hope he at least waited until you were finished with chemo, because if not, that is an act of fuckwittage of Newt Gingrich proportions. I also always wonder why you agreed to it. I know Mormonism was traditionally polygamist and hugely patriarchal, but so was Judaism. And look at us now.
While you’ve become philosophical about your predicament, and sometimes even appear convinced it’s the right thing, I can’t help but feel that given the opportunity, you’d be thrilled to have things back the way they were.
Barb, it’s time to seize the opportunity. Bill isn’t going to change is mind, but you can work from the inside, undermining his relationships with Nicki and Margene until they leave of their own volition. Encourage Nicki to talk about her feelings for Ray the D.A. Half-heartedly press Margene to quit the jewelry while subtly hinting that she has her whole life ahead of her and shouldn’t sell herself short. Or better yet, take a page out of your friend Peg Emery’s book and encourage them to run off with each other. Book a romantic dinner or a day at the spa that you (and Bill) mysteriously fail to attend, and watch the sparks fly. You know Nicki at least would be up for it.
Nicki: Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nicki is my favorite character–I always seem to go for the odd, cold ones that no one else likes. I actually find Nicki possibly the most sympathetic character on the show. Yes, she’s a compulsive internet shopper (full disclosure: so am I.) Yes, she has an interesting relationship with the truth (ummm…..). But look: Nicki has had a HORRIBLE life. She is a rape and probable incest survivor. She was forced by her own father to marry–at fourteen!–a psychopath with NO FUCKING FINGERNAILS, and her mother and her brother are completely out of their minds. Nobody seems to understand the pressures and conflicts that Nicki operates under, and no one seems to care, either. Her current husband even invites her ex-husband/probable rapist over for dinner! I hate using internet abbreviations, but seriously, WTF? And then they get angry because she has the temerity to fall for the first remotely normal, age-appropriate man she has ever known? Nicki, here’s what you need to do. You need to steal someone’s credit card, get on the first plane to New York City, and sell your story to a publishing house for a million fucking dollars. Oprah is going to eat your shit up. And then comes the Dateline special, the follow-up book, the movie and film options, the Ralph Lauren campaign, the house in the Hamptons. Honey, you like shopping from Lands’ End? You have NO idea.
And also, forget Ray the D.A. You fucked that one up and good. Chalk it up to experience and find someone better. I’d hold out for a Yankee or an MSNBC pundit.
Margene: Margie, listen to me. You take all that money you’re making and put it in a closed account that no one has access to but you. You are not legally married to Bill. He has NO legal rights regarding your financial records or income, and not a judge in the world would find it so. And then whatever you don’t squirrel away, you donate directly to his opponent in the state senatorial election. Because if the writers let him win that race, it is going to ruin your life, and you know it. Barb is going down with the ship, and Nicki is so emotionally damaged she’s never going to be a functional human anyway, but you could still get out of this relatively unscathed and lead a normal, successful life. Promise me you will do this. Thank you.
Sarah: I really hope your dramatic loss of faith has led to a newfound one in birth control. Because I’m not saying that you and Scott don’t love each other, or that things won’t work out, but you are 18 and he is 28 and a baby is not the way to go right now. Just trust me on this one.
Teenie: Wherever the hell you are, don’t come back.
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