Agreements and Boundaries
How Episode 2 of Big Love failed
By Rob Wilson
Tuesday, March 21, 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.


The most recent episode of HBOís Big Love, titled "Viagra Blue" failed on several levels. The show failed to address the most basic of tenets for any polyamourous or even monogamous relationship: That of boundaries and agreements.

We all have agreements with the special people in our lives, it could be as simple as to pick the kids up after soccer practice on Tuesdays too complex issues such as where, and with whom, you will be sleeping on any given night. These agreements evolve and change as our lives become more complex or as we change our views of the situation.

These agreements are scratched at throughout this episode. Within the first few minutes we hear that each wife gets their mutual husband starting at 9:00 A.M. on their given day. Barb, the oldest and "first" Wife is a little bit perturbed that Bill, played by Bill Paxton, is having some rather noisy sex with Margene, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, who then enters the kitchen wearing a rather revealing robe after that cutoff point.

Barb, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, grumbles about having to have "that talk" with Bill. We can only assume that "the talk" is about respecting the agreements that the family has established. In this case, not paying attention to the time, after all, it was Barbís "day." Instead, Nicky - Bills second wife - says that sheíll bring it to Billís attention, here by saving Barb some time.

OK, so far so good right? Here is a situation that is going to be resolved in a timely and adult matter. Well, guess what? Itís not. Instead Nicky ends up sleeping with Bill in the same bed where Margene and Bill just made love. To make matters worse, Bill whispers the same sweat nothings in Nickyís ear.

Of course, Margene hears and sees all this. She confronts Nicky later in the day, in front of Barb. Nicky denies this at first, only to admit that it did occur. Finally, maybe here is the scene where we will see how agreements are renewed after being broken.

The director cuts the scene quickly without any resolution and we never see or hear how this issue was resolved.

Margene also confronts Bill about this, and at first he just walks away, only to later apologize for dismissing her feelings. He talks about how she makes him complete, how she makes "us" complete. Margene looks up at him through loving and tear-stained eyes and I didnít believe it for a second.

I realize that this is only an hour show, and hopefully the writers will address this issue in future shows but to blatantly show such disregard to whatever agreements this family had to set up shows a lack of research and imagination on their part. After all the producers have claimed in several articles, (please refer to Poly imPRESSions) That "polygamists could embody universal and admirable qualities that defines the best family love."

Frankly the characters donít live up to that ideal. Hereís hoping they will in the future.

But there were some good things about this episode that a polyamorous person can take comfort in. His eldest daughter announces to her new girlfriend that she comes from a polygamous family, and her friend smiles and says "Even if {I} donít approve of others actions, I think that love is still unconditional."

Bill is also confronted by his business partner and fellow polygamist who tells him to "walk the path with decency." Truer words concerning any relationship were never spoken.



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