Evictions and Convictions
Big Love, Episode 7
By Rob Wilson
Monday, April 26, 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.

Episode Seven begins and ends on a dramatic note and may have been one of the most powerful episodes yet of the HBO series Big Love. But the problem is that there is very little in this particular episode that the polyamorous community can point to and say “Yes, that’s the way it is.” Or “No, we don’t do that” in this reviewer’s opinion.

This particular show was about convictions, or standing up to what you believe is right, and evictions. Physical and emotional evictions as the Henrickson clan is literally bulldozed and run off the Juniper Creek compound. Personal and religious convictions, even financial convictions. This tone is set early as Bill Henrickson is mulling over an expensive new ad campaign for his store. The gist of which will be to brand his stores as homegrown and part of the Utah landscape. “Nothing like the feeling you belong” says one of the executives.

Although it is an expensive ad campaign, Bill green lights the ads over the objections of his bookkeeper and partner. Convinced that his trouble will soon be over.

Meanwhile back on the homes of our hero; Nicki faces off with two young male Mormon missionaries, who frankly with their same suites and creepy smiles reminded me more of cult members than actual Mormons. After Nicki cites scripture and asks them to leave they somehow deduce that she is a polygamist and return the next day to reprimand her. Nicki becomes enraged and chases them away. But not before the missionaries take her house number down and shake the dust from their feet, in effect writing her house off for all eternity.

Traditional religious institutions often consider anything other than monogamy to be a sin, and this includes the modern Church of Later Day Saints. In effect, Nicki - who was raised in a traditional though polygamous household - has been excommunicated from the official church. As they ride off on bikes she chases after them screaming “Go on and pray for yourselves! You’re the ones that need to be prayed for!”

Although I personally am a nonreligious person, I can understand the feelings of many that feel the need for spiritual guidance. This guidance is harder to find when you practice a non-traditional lifestyle. Particularly when you feel evicted from the church, you grew up in.

Barb soon learns about Nicki’s credit debt from a fellow polygamist who works for the store. “It’s Nicki’s business.” Barb tells her coworker, “No,” her friend reminds her. “It’s family business.” Later when Barb confronts Nicki about this she uses that same argument.

Nicki, near hysterics, tells Barb that she has not told their mutual husband about the debt, all $58,000 of it, for fear that she will be thrown out of the household. “He would never do that.” Barb reassures her, still in shock.

Today we all know how easy it is to fall into debt, and I have to admit that I didn’t think her debt would relate much to my series of articles; that it was a plot device used to create tension, for now Bill has yet another issue to resolve and is further in hock to his nemesis, Roman Grant.

Recently however I had to borrow a sum of money to pay off a small tax bill. I did not borrow this money from a bank or my parents but from someone within my chosen family. Although they expect to be paid back, they volunteered the funds without question once the issue became known. The $58,000 owed by Nicki is certainly more than the few hundred I owed, but my point is this. Polyamorous families often split the cost of food, goods and time, we have built in networks of friends that can help defray the costs of even the biggest projects since we all feel that we have a stake in making that project a success. As Barb points out to Nicki, “What your doing to us, our family . . . one thing affects us all.”

Later at the family dinner, eldest daughter Sarah brings home her new friend Heather which leaves the family wondering aloud if this is a good thing. After desert as Sarah heads out the door, she explains that she has strong opinions about polygamy, and would love to sit down and talk about them one day with the Henrickson’s.

Which brings up the question of how we introduce our own polyamorous relationships to friends and family, risking all. A perfect example of this comes from my own life, when my wife and I came out as polyamorous to my wife’s family. For over a year her brother seemed to accept the idea, but then one day exploded in rage over what he saw as my wife’s sleeping around. Although things have settled since then, the hurt remains. Do we risk friends and family to be true to our convictions? Or do we risk being evicted from their lives because of what and how we are?

Bill’s family, who lives at the Juniper Creek compound, finds themselves evicted, literally having their houses bulldozed under. His father is furious and accuses Bill of bringing this down upon them “Whatever it is you’ve been fighting over, I hope it’s worth it.”

Although this is an extreme example, we have to ask ourselves when is our chosen lifestyle “worth it?” It is possible to lose out jobs, our living quarters, our children because we choose to have more than one lover?

We have to be strong in our own convictions to move forward and accept the possible scorn of others.

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