Polygamy loves company.
Role: Nicolette “Nicki” Grant
Co-Stars: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Dean Stanton, Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie, Douglas Smith, Mary Kay Place, Matt Ross, Joel McKinnon Miller
Series Creators: Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer
Original Airdate: U.S. Season 1 TV debut, March 12 2006
Status: Season 5 and series complete as of March 20 2011
Spoiler Warning: Please be advised that this page is meant to be a comprehensive overview of a TV episode or -episodes, and is likely to contain critical spoilers as to the various story-wise outcomes. If you’d like to remain spoiler-free as to what happens in the episode(s) in question, we suggest you not read any further.
Separated from the Church of the Latter Day Saints, a large group sets up a commune in Utah, where polygamy is still the accepted way. Big Love is the story of Bill Henrickson (Paxton), a polygamist carrying three wives, three homes, two home improvement stores and nine children in Utah.
Hiding their unique secret from the neighborhood, sometimes even from family and friends, the Henricksons have always fought an uphill battle. While Bill has had to deal with the many smaller and larger crises orchestrated by his unruly relatives and the unpredictable Grant family of the notorious Juniper Creek compound, his three wives have had to reconcile their unique marriage arrangement with Bill and its many complications with both themselves, their families and each other, all the while committedly raising their children according to the Principle.
After years of secrecy, however, Bill finally decided to brave the odds. Following his vision for polygamy in the Unites States, the Utah State senator-elect outed his entire family at the end of a successful political campaign, with unpredictable and unprecedented consequences for the entire family, indeed the whole polygamist community. With Bill’s three marriages already creaking under their own, collective weight, their financial security gone and outside threats against their future on both political and federal levels as well as from the increasingly unbalanced Alby Grant (Ross), will the Henricksons be able to weather the storm?
Chloë Sevigny portrays Nicolette “Nicki” Grant, Bill Henrickson’s conservative, irritable and manipulative second wife and his connection to the Grants of Juniper Creek. While Nicki’s difficult relationship with her father, mother and brother has always been more of a complication than a blessing for the Henricksons, Nicki’s own pronity to avoid even the smallest responsibility with lies and the most unbelievable stunts has been the cause of nearly as much trouble for them, not the least for Nicki herself.
But as the entire family stands at a crossroads in the face of their public outing, it is the newly reformed Nicki who finds herself the most at home by Bill’s side, and while the other wives question their own futures as part of the Henrickson household, Nicki has found new strength both within herself, her newly rediscovered daughter and being at last a public wife.
Quotations coming soon/not available.
• The show’s fictional fundamentalist polygamist group, the “United Effort Brotherhood”, is in some ways similar to and was largely inspired by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints whose financial and legal wing is called the “United Effort Plan”. The FLDS is one of the most prolific and well-known remaining groups of polygamists claiming to be the successors of the original LDS church.
• Renowned actor Tom Hanks is a producer of the series.
• Series’ creators Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen are also the show’s head writers.
• Although set in Utah, the series was primarily filmed at the Santa Clarita Studios in Valencia, California. The location used for filming the Home Plus scenes was the All American Home Center in Downey, California. Scenes outside the Henricksons’ three homes were filmed on location on Shady Lane in the small town of Fillmore, California.
• In March 2010, Chloë Sevigny inadvertently gained a lot of extra attention when she described in an interview with the A.V. Club Season 4 of Big Love as having been “awful” and “very telenovela”. The comments quickly spread all over the web, and Chloë was eventually compelled to retract her comments and apologize.
• Out of the series’ pivotal three wives, Chloë is the only one to have appeared topless on the show. After Season 1, however, Chloë says she “got really tired of it” and refused to do further nude scenes if co-stars Ginnifer Goodwin and Jeanne Tripplehorn didn’t have to appear nude either. “I don’t want to be the show’s Samantha, like on Sex and the City — the only woman who’ll do nudity.” (BlackBook, February 2008; Playboy, January 2011)
Since the series’ 2006 debut, Big Love has steadily gained both fans and viewers, even though its weekly ratings have always been relatively modest. Critical reviews of the series have been mixed but generally positive, and the series’ 3rd season in particular finished strong, while Season 4 was criticized by many as over-the-top and soapy. Lead actors Bill Paxton, Chloë Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin have all received much praise for their work on the show, however, culminating in Chloë winning the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Television) for her Season 3 portrayal of Nicki. Paxton has also been nominated for a Golden Globe three times for his portrayal of Bill Henrickson, and the show has received a total of eight Primetime Emmy nominations (for Seasons 1-4).
• Rating > Internet Movie Database: 8.2/10 (6,700 user votes counted)
• Rating > MetaCritic: 72/100 metascore, “Generally favorable reviews” (professional)
• Rating > Rotten Tomatoes: No rating (professional)
Extracts from professional reviews:
“If you’re waiting for a wink or satirical nudge, it’s not coming. Surprisingly for HBO, which has never exactly courted family-values conservatives, Big Love, for all its R-rated content, takes its deeply religious characters on their own terms. [...] Big Love is exciting and fascinating too. Beneath his bland exterior, Paxton subtly shows the pressures of trying to be the breadwinner of a ’50s-style household (that would be the 1850s) in the 21st century. [...] Secrets, threats, Viagra — Big Love was always going to be interesting TV, but what makes it first-rate drama is how confidently it moves past exoticism to the ordinary universals of family life. The big in the title, it turns out, refers to the expansiveness, not the number, of the Henricksons’ commitments.”
- James Poniewozik, Time
“In fact, there are elements of this new series that have a quirkiness that might seem deliberate or overly clever against a different backdrop, but that feels natural in its own gracefully odd environment. [...] Which, of course, leads us to the question of whether every drama that comes our way these days will be an imitation of The Sopranos in one way or another, featuring the same troubled yet sympathetic leading man with the world on his shoulders, just trying to make it from day to day. The look of the show, the pace, the characters all fit into that style of HBO drama that viewers are becoming accustomed to. But hey, why argue with a good thing? The deliciously odd situations and sympathetic yet stubborn characters of Big Love have kept me riveted for the first four episodes, and I can’t wait to watch more.”
- Heather Havrilesky, Salon.com
“Much of that audience is likely to stick around for all 12 parts of this thoroughly sharp, seriously compelling drama about a family of Salt Lake City Mormons living in a polygamous arrangement — a three-wife household, that is — under sharp scrutiny of suspicious neighbors. [...] Chloë Sevigny makes a convincingly dour wife No. 2 as the pathological spendthrift Nicky, who harbors a passion both for her husband and her father. Wife three, Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), has troubles of her own to contribute to this household. Admirably written, entertaining, and generously stocked with vivid, if not quite graphic, mating scenes.”
- Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal
Coming soon/not available.
Below are some Big Love-related links that may be of interest to you.