Big Love’ or big disaster?

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Bill Henrickson has what every man has ever wanted: three wives and a prescription for Viagra. What else could a guy need?

HBO’s new series, “Big Love,” portrays the average Utah family with three moms, seven children and one dad. The Henricksons live in adjacent homes in the suburb of Sandy and struggle with debt and an overbearing prophet.

At least that is what anyone born outside of Utah can gather about the typical Utah family now-finally, people will see how we really live.

I thought the stereotype of all Utahns being either Mormon or Mormon polygamists was bad before “Big Love.” God help us now.

Any Utahn who has traveled knows what stereotype I’m talking about.

“You’re from Utah? So how many wives does your dad have?” or “Utah? So you’re Mormon?”

I can’t wait to find out what questions are brewing outside our borders now.

The sad thing is that the producers have made sure viewers know the Henricksons live in Utah-we can’t just claim it takes place in Arizona or Wyoming. From Bill’s office window, you can see the Angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake Temple; when the family is watching the news, the weather map is of Utah; and the streets are filled with terrible drivers. It could only be Utah at that point.

Wait, the producers of “Big Love” thought of a way to show that not everyone in Utah lives like the cast of their show: a disclaimer stating that only 20,000 to 40,000 people currently practice polygamy in the United States and that the Mormon Church banned the practice in 1890.

But damn, it’s only on screen for two seconds and no one can read that fast.

Naturally, the Mormon Church is up in arms over “Big Love.” It just ruined years of progress in destroying a nasty stereotype. Before “Big Love”, Mormons were known for two things in this world: polygamy and Jell-O. Now it may just be polygamy.

Not only that, but LDS missionaries may have a harder time in the field. Viewers are only getting the fundamentalist side to the Mormon faith that’s portrayed in “Big Love.” Imagine how awkward it will be explaining to new converts that they can’t take a second wife.

Despite the show’s obvious flaws in portraying the “real” Utah, I find myself glued to the television after the “Sopranos” every Sunday night. I’ll admit that the writers of “Big Love” know how to stir up a little drama and, sadly, interesting characters. That makes “Big Love” better than 90 percent of television already.

Of course, the show does a few advantages for Utah-they are just hard to find. For example, the show does an excellent job at representing a basic Utahn commitment to strong family bonds. They just do it in a “Big” way.

It has some great shots of the scenery in southern Utah, too. Maybe some people will decide to come here on vacation. Tourism, after all, is great for the economy.

But no matter how sunny you try to paint the picture, “Big Love” will make interactions outside the borders of Utah a little awkward for a while-because no, we don’t all live like the cast of “Big Love,” and eventually people may realize we don’t all have three wives and Viagra.

Then again, we did just change our state motto to “Life Elevated.”

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