Home Invasion
Big Love, Episode 3
By Rob Wilson
Tuesday, March 28, 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.


What defines what a family is? Is it the traditional two parents, kids, dog running around in the backyard or is it something more?

You cannot pick your family, or can you?

That's what I want to explore in this review of episode three 'Home Invasion'. For despite all the drama that this episode contained - and it was the most interesting of the three shows so far - it was basically a show about family. Immediate and extended, blood and not blood.

The show opens with the second wife, Nicki, planning an extravagant birthday party for her son Wayne. "Only immediate family, 153 people." This party is important for Nicki, who seems to have a lot of self doubt and validation issues.

Bill, shortly after hearing what Nicki has planned, explodes due to her inviting her father Roman, the leader of a polygamist cult and trying to obtain a bigger cut of Bill’s business profit.

Sadly the party does not go as planned, it seems that Nicki was trying to impress her family and forgot to invite kids that are her son’s age to the party. He looks terrified when riding a pony in the backyard and receives gifts that are clearly not what any young boy wants. "Thank you, Mother" he mumbles listlessly as she unwraps yet another pair of shoes for him.

Meanwhile Margene, the third wife, is trying to impress Lois who is Bill’s mother . . . and failing badly.

This is where the show started to shine and where we, as polyamorous people can talk about family. It’s subtle and often does not consist of more than a line or two in the show, but the words carry the weight of an atomic bomb.

For example, Barb - the first wife - points out the ring on Margene’s finger and states “This is the ring we gave to Margene.” Those two simple words “we gave” mean that everyone was involved in the discussion to include her in the family. That she was a welcome and valued addition in their lives. Margene also stresses that she was not coerced into any sort of marriage, but that she wanted to be a wife, and that “I wanted to be a member of the family.”

Another example of family from the show, although in more of a “traditional” sense is when Nicki storms off after being berated by her mother. Roman, her natural father, goes to comfort her. Bill walks in and sees Nicki laughing with a very relaxed Roman sitting on the edge of the bed. Bill and Roman exchange words on the way out the door, much to Nicki’s regret. The point however is that a father, even someone with ice in his veins and clearly the villain of the show, can care for and comfort someone in distress.

The show ends on an upbeat note, as Nicki feels sorry for herself while holding a sleepy Wayne and the entire Henrickson clan gathers about her. “I don’t fit in anywhere” she says to Bill. The family, both wives and the various children tell her that she does.

Families after all, are a group of people that understand, care for and love each other, BECAUSE they want too not because they have to. When you look at a senior citizen center, you see people of all creeds and colors supporting and caring for each other. This is family. Not some catch phrase being used to gather votes in an election year, but real live flesh and blood people caring, and loving each other.

folks have read this article.