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Oh, ‘Big Love,’ You Frustrate Us So

Chloë Sevigny as the self-righteous Nikki.Courtesy of HBO

Here's why Big Love is one of the most exasperating shows on television: It builds and it builds and at the moment you think it’s going to explode into a big, frightening, seductive mash of sex and religion and state troopers, someone forgets an anniversary and entire episodes give over to the petty domestic crises of three otherwise intriguing women. “Which one forgot?” Nikki asked Margene last night. “Both,” admitted sweet, honest Margene who, despite all the flack she gets — for being doughy, treacly, high-pitched — is becoming the most realistic character of the lot.

Nikki then spends a fair amount of the episode delivering prim lectures about the importance of anniversary-remembering, to no great effect. Meanwhile Bill was dealing with a defaced billboard — “Henrickson’s Home Plus is Us + us + us + us” — that he felt was too much for Barb or any of his family to handle. “This is my livelihood,” he told the sign company who were threatening to put him on the waiting list behind the hundreds of other defaced-billboard owners. Then he had an outburst about not disrespecting the First Lady that seemed to come from (and go) nowhere but helped get his billboard cleaned up. Perhaps it was a masked defense of his own First Lady, Barb, who is back on her feet after last season’s public humiliation but seems, along with Bill, ever more incredulous about how all these unsavory happenings — the spray-painted billboard, the ever-threatening Roman, the suspicious neighbors — could possibly be happening to them.

The self-deception is building to Sopranos-esque proportions. Does anyone really think the Hendricksons are going to pull this off? —Emma Pearse