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is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

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Thursday
Feb172011

« In Which We Think About A Move To Houston »

An Analytical Mindset

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Big Love

creators Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer

The magical key to unlocking the female analytical mindset. Tap directly into her hopes, her wants, her fears, her desires, and her sweet little panties. Learn how to make that lady "friend" your sex-starved servant. I don't care how you look. I don't care what car you drive. I don't care what your last bank statement says.

Frank 'T.J.' Mackey

It's nice to have a lot of people around. Accidents in the home are less often fatal. Tibetans practiced polyandry, a form of plural marriage in which a woman has many husbands. Stuck-up people gave them copious shit about it. Big Love would be a great show if it were just about regular people living in America, but the series' fifth and final season concerns irregular people living in Utah. As time has gone on, the aughts have hit the erstwhile home improvement chain owner hard. Each of Bill Hendrickson's wives has grown increasingly attractive while he no longer seems lively enough to hop on Apollo 13.

Extreme survival circumstances encourage the destruction of monogamy, which explains John Edwards' love affair better than I ever could. Robert Heinlein imagined line marriages in space, where the eldest wife could select any man to her bed, and marriage back into a line is accepted rarely, perhaps only once or twice in a generation. Precautions against incest licensed a variety of exciting arrangements. Did you know that Dennis Hopper once had seven women with the same last name convinced he was in love with them at the same time?

Chloe Sevigny spins like a dervish amidst the various plotlines. The fact that I am able to keep track of the show's characters is an indictment of my own. There are over 60, and these are just a few: Bill's mom, Bill, his three wives, his friend and CFO, that man's three wives, many children, Wayne, Roman Grant (deceased), Kara-Lynn, Frank 'T.J.' Mackey, Heather, Nicki's mother (Mark Kay Place), Margene's mother (deceased), Bill's demon spawn fresh from a Ukranian emigre's belly, Bill's father, Aaron Paul, Albie, a BYU intern, Bill's brother, Benny, Sarah, the man who works in Bill's warehouse and hates him, Bill's Senate colleagues - there is no end to the sheer number of people in Utah.

How many people does the average person know in their lifetime? This is the ideal question for a wisdom of the crowds, which effectively amounts to a conflict of interest. In Utah, many things are different from how we have come to know them on the other side of the world, really. Bill's third wife Margene managed "Why don't we just live in Houston?"

Bill Hendrickson spent his youth stealing because he was cast out from Juniper Creek, the compound where everyone's hair looks like early Elaine from Seinfeld and young women are offered in a book to the men who are effectively their pimps and sperm origin points. Bill (or "Beeeeeeeel" if you're calling him from another room) didn't have a dollar to his name and that was 40 percent of his charm. To solve this social problem, in the fiction of Big Love, Utah authorities persecute the compound and all those who live in this fashion. Joseph Smith had a lovely looking family:

It is no longer precisely who we are supposed to sympathize with, or against. Sunday's episode showcased a set of stodgy LDS officials — with their weird, muted pleas to Bill, they seemed more like psychic representations of his inner struggle than actual characters. Their status as apparitions is the ludicrous exception that proves the rule. At the end of some scenes, the audience cannot be entirely sure whether they are supposed to feel empathetic or hateful towards the heroes of the drama. This reconstructs the soap opera of Big Love as a moral mindfuck, where the antagonist is a constantly rotating ephemeral idea. It's too bad you have to follow along with a scorecard, but it's not really that difficult as long as you're clean and sober.

Everyone on Big Love always is. The luminous Jeanne Tripplehorn sampled some wine and her housemates reacted as if she had ripped their hearts out. When the actress-wives found out Bill was schlepping a waitress who ruined the show's previous season they weren't half as indignant. (He only put it in a little.) Not that the show's creators wish to paint a broad brush, but it seems fair to conclude that for Mormons, sex is okay, but not pornography, unless it is devoid of sex, when it is renamed the Oxygen Network.

At this point in his life, Bill doesn't seem very interested in women. He gets more excited by a vote on the floor of the Utah State Senate, and he no longer has sex scenes with any of his actress-wives, although he repeatedly watches Chloe Sevigny's scene from The Brown Bunny to stimulate himself to orgasm. Once he achieves it, he usually moves on to the intercourse of a flooded planet in Waterworld. His son and fellow-priesthood holder showcases similar passions.

There is something very noxious about the tendency of people to interfere in each other's business. At the same time, the frontier was a dangerous place and Joseph Smith probably couldn't stop after the third wife or so. Opinions about polygamy are more mixed than even Big Love allows; opinions about the abuse of women in plural marriage aren't mixed at all.

In the time he spends between writing memoirs about the Holocaust, Daniel Mendelsohn found the time to recently denigrate Mad Men for its sanctimonious view of the 1960s, a point of view akin to the conviction that he hates monkeys because they eat too many bananas. It's not just Leonardo DiCaprio in every single movie who is losing his grasp on reality, the simpleton who confuses satire with real life remains complicit. Don't ask me which Big Love is from scene to scene; it would be impossible to rightly tell without a magnifying glass.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of his writing here.

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Reader Comments (6)

This is great. One little note - the fourth/waitress wife is Serbian.

February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I like this piece and several of your other pieces. One note of tremendous import: I believe the word you want in the following sentence is "shtupping," not "schlepping." <When the actress-wives found out Bill was schlepping a waitress who ruined the show's previous season they weren't half as indignant.> "schlepping" means dragging something around, or dragging oneself around ("you don't want to shlep that heavy bag all the way home, do you?" or "I had to shlep all the way out to Queens yesterday") But if you basically wanted to say "boning" you would use "shtup." The 'u' is pronounced like the vowel sounds in "should." See this link for shtup: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shtup.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I watched Big Love all the way through, hating Bill from episode 1 first scene. I could never see why any of those strong women had anything to do with him. He was so weak and completely uninteresting sexually!
Regarding your writing, I enjoyed the read but felt like it under developed....or something.. maybe like you just free associated (as though high on pot). Perhaps that is your style. I've just begun to read The Recording so don't know. I really don't see why polygamy can't be legal if someone wants it. And maybe a few husbands that I didn't have to take care of would be nice. Oh and multiple pay checks and love making styles. I'd like that. (just don't make me cook and clean for them)

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMyrna Jacobs
nice atricle brother,, yeah,,
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May 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercie compboy
i've watched waterworld
even though fiction story, but it could happen in the future


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