If there’s a will
Big Love, Episode 11
By Rob Wilson
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Rob is a member of this online community. This series of reviews is his first submission to us. He can be reached via email, or through our forums.

This will be an ongoing review for the entire 12 weeks of the HBO drama Big Love. Previous editions of this review can be found in the Monthly Columns archives.

In the last episode of Big Love we finally got to meet Barb’s side of the family. Who, to put it mildly is not enamored with the concept of polygamy. After her run in with her sister Barb decided to change the will around, so in the event of her untimely death her children would be raised by her sister-wives.

However, for her to do this all three women in the Henrickson household will have to change their wills as well. At first they all agree to one simple rule: That if any of them die along with Bill, their kids will be raised by the next youngest sister wife.

So far so good right?


Each of the women has reservations about the new wills. For Nicki, it is a concern that Barb would not raise her children according to the Principle - which I understood to basically be under “traditional” Mormon beliefs which may include plural marriages. Thus, she would rather have the kids be raised by her parents at the Compound. Margene would rather have her kids go to Barb since Nicki is “cool” emotionally.

Nicki also expresses other concerns. That today’s modern culture will somehow corrupt her children. “I want my kids raised in an environment where God isn’t under attack . . . taken out of the schools.” Nicki is also unsure if Barb and her share the same values on the raising of the children, especially after catching eldest son Ben and his girlfriend making out after school. “The reason why you’re able to go off and work is because you have Marge and me as backstops,” she explains. “Women are designed to tend the chicks, while men go out early and gather worms.” Barb replies that the world doesn’t work that way. “But it should. One mother can’t do it alone. It really does take a village.”

Eventually Nicki learns that her mother will not take her children since she believes they go to the sister wives. She turns to Margene at last.

Recently a death in my family along with some other issues has my family looking into our wills as well. Unlike the family in the series however our situation is much simpler. But already my wife and I have asked similar questions. Is it OK with you if I leave X item to our girl/boyfriend(s)?

Polyamory to me is a constant state of negations, and exactly what will happen to any possible children we have is important to us. As is the care of our three “kids” - our two labs and cat - now.

We support each other now in various ways, perhaps not financially but certainly emotionally. My significant other’s daughter is part of my family as much as I am part of hers. Does that mean that if my girlfriend were to die that she would be out of my life? Of course not.

I have heard of polyamorous families starting trusts and other legal ways to care for those they love and would highly recommend anyone considering this contact a lawyer.

One of the issues that I have with Big Love is that Bill is hardly ever shown being part of the decision making process, a theme that the show does touch on briefly when his lawyer mentions that the women are driving him crazy by making constant changes to the wills. Bill states that he’ll handle it, but never gives any input to the process. Certainly something as important as the family’s welfare after his demise would require some direction from him?

Nor does Bill often ask for their advice regarding the running of the store, in this episode he is offered the opportunity to join the prestigious Leadership League; which is a powerful group of local business men. Despite continued warnings of exposure from the various wives; Bill proceeds with the process of joining the group only to change his mind at the end. It is never clear what changes his mind however.

Barb is in the finals for Mother of the Year, and as such is getting her picture taken with her children. Nicki and her two boys enter; one of them looks up with big round eyes and says “Can we be part of the picture?”

“No,” the photographer says “this if for family only.”

Now how could this scene have been done better? Have the two other kids join the photo shoot for three or four pictures and then have them run and play. In order to keep their secret all Barb needs to say is “Why not have them in a few?” and before the photographer can protest gather them up.

Psychological wounds are the hardest to heal and I thought that the show made a not so subtle jab at one of the dangers of having secrets. Someone in the family always gets hurt.

folks have read this article.