I discovered Big Love is on Amazon Prime, and in honor of the it's 10th anniversary decided to give it a watch. I was interested in the show when it first came out, but only saw a few episodes - I had just graduated high school, was dating, working full time, and it was super awkward to watch it with my parents. I grew up in a Mormon family in Sandy, Utah. I went to school with kids of polygamists. I thought it might be fun to compare my reality of being a Mormon in Sandy in 2006 to what was portrayed on the show. So, here it is! Everything wrong with Big Love.
(I will add, I fast forwarded through any sex scenes, so anything that might have been discussed there has been missed. And some things that I point out as mistakes are clarified in future episodes, I may or may not have gone back to fix my comments.)
-When Bill is driving home from work, he drives north to downtown Salt Lake, drives past the temple on the busiest street downtown, then turns around and drives back south to his house, this would be at least an extra hour detour. (Hey maybe he's avoiding the family, who knows?)
-Most fundamentalist Mormons wouldn't wear a sleeveless top like Margene does.
-A Bishop wouldn't move in across the street, as you don't take your church calling with you when you move. He might be a former Bishop, or be called as the new bishop of the ward
in his new neighborhood, but he wouldn't be a bishop when he moved and would be unlikely to be the bishop for a while.
-I don't get the girls in matching black outfits at the diner... Are they supposed to be Mormons? We don't dress like nuns. And we'd never call our ward a congregation unless explaining it to someone.
-I don't know many Mormon families with "white bread and jello" in their pantry, most are into healthy eating. Whole wheat and bottled peaches are more likely.
-"Are you in young women's?" Is a silly question, as every teenage Mormon girl is in young women's, even if they don't go. Its just the name of the girls youth group. A Mormon girl would just ask if a girl was a Mia-maid (14-15) or a Laurel (16-18).
-When you ask a Mormon what their parents "do", you'll almost never hear their church calling mentioned.
-There is no possible way you could get away with giving a public school a Mormon name like Cumorah.
-Its unusual for a Mormon or fundamentalist Mormon family to have a cross decorating their wall.
-I know those aren't Salt Lake mountains but I'll forgive that.
-again with the sleeveless tops
-still confused about this bishop thing. What's going to happen if a bishop finds out? Even if he called the authorities, the state wouldn't prosecute unless there was evidence of abuse.
-pretty sure most Mormon high school girls know what transgender is, especially today. I know I did and that was before the show was made.
-Bill mentions "prairie garb and sunbonnets" and it brings up a good point... There are a lot more bonnets and headcoverings on the compound than I'd expect to see. But this is a fictional group, carry on.
-"lay a blessing on you" sounds silly. More likely "give you a blessing", although I don't see why you would give your wife a blessing in the middle of a fight.
-Bill has what looks like iced tea in his hand, some fundamentalist Mormons drink coffee and tea some don't. LDS do not.
-the talk between Bill and Don about revelation at the store is a bit more "religious nut" than I'm accustomed to, but might be normal among fundamentalists.
-"receive testimony" also seems like an awkward phrase, I think "feel the Spirit" would be more likely.
-Mormons do sometimes check for "garment lines", because it can be awkward in some situations if you are unsure of their religion. However, I have several Mormon friends who don't wear garments so it's not necessarily a good indicator. (and in this specific situation, many descendants of pioneers live in Utah but aren't active Mormons, so I didn't think garment lines were relevant.)
-the employee suspicious that Don is polygamist seems extra prudish. Sure ladies like that exist, but most of us wouldn't say anything, and we wouldn't button the top button of that shirt either.
-I've never heard of after school seminary. Its usually before school or in Utah many schools offer "released time" religion classes during the school day (not just for Mormons, other churches can offer classes as well)
-Mormons don't think that going to seminary will somehow solve your problems or cleanse you of sins, but I can see how a teen boy might think it would help.
-I would hope that Mormon kids aren't judgmental and thinking their bodies are dirty, but I get the girlfriend's point
-seminary teacher is dressed more casually than what I'm used to, they are usually required to wear a suit. And the classroom looks an awful lot like a school room, usually its in a church.
-"a member of our holy family"? We do believe that families are sacred but we don't go around calling our families holy like that.
-its usually "bear testimony" not "give testimony", although I admit that give makes more sense.
-I've never seen a polygamist funeral, but LDS funerals are not like that. No creepy talking to the person in the casket, and of course no walking out wedding style with another wife. And I'm surprised they didn't pick a hymn for the music.
-the garment line thing... I thought the other lady was the one wearing garments. The apparent garment line one seemed low cut. And the lady totally looked "prairie/compound".
-I sure hope missionaries don't seem that creepy weird. And why do they have photo ID cards on their shirts rather than black name tags? and they don't give out coloring books, and they aren't supposed to wear backpacks...
- I've talked to missionaries who tract into polygamists (they live up the road from me) and they don't use a 'polygamy is wrong' approach, they discuss prophets and line of authority.
-the sign at the church had directions to a "fellowship hall", "sanctuary", and "counseling center" which are all terms Mormons don't use. It would be "cultural hall", "chapel" and the counseling center would just be the Bishops' office.
-this ward seems huge and way involved. Most Utah wards are pretty minimal on activities... They wouldn't have enough singles for a salsa night, Sundays are usually spent with family...
-the attorney makes it sound like the compound is on the Utah Arizona border, 6 hours south of Salt Lake. But they say they're going "up" to the compound and of Salt Lake being "down here". Someone must be geographically challenged.
-Mormons don't really recognize Holy Saturday
-another geography issue... To get to the Arizona border by 8 pm they need to leave at 2 pm... A Jazz game isn't long enough to be a decent cover up
-This Chad guy is super goofy and creepy. I'm not saying there aren't Mormons like that, but most of us are normal people and I'm kinda sick of being portrayed like that. Who says weird crap like "I had a burning in my bosom when I met you"? That's the stuff you see in Mormon-made satire movies.
-"it's two hours to get home"... So the compound is not on the Arizona border? Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada are all about two hours from Salt Lake. Or it could be in central Utah. Just explain why the AG talks about AZ!
-General Conference has always been twice a year, in April and October, since the 1830s.
-most Mormon kids would receive a Bible/Book of Mormon set rather than just a Bible for a baptism gift. I imagine it's the same in most Fundamentalist families.
-Barbs sister... Mormons aren't racist like that, although we do tend to adopt minority kids, don't know where that trend came from.
-and as far as baptisms are concerned, its tradition for Mormon kids to be baptized by their dad if he's also a Mormon, and the baptism can be anywhere. (although most churches do have a baptismal font) Our neighbor was baptized by her dad in our backyard hot tub! I don't get why the sister is so disgusted by the idea.
-babies are usually blessed when they are a few months old, not immediately after birth, maybe its different in fundamentalist groups.
-nothing wrong here! I loved the little accurate details - the Postum, the extras in the locker room, there were probably more that I didn't notice because it's normal for me. Very nice.
-this whole season I've felt the women dress pretty formal. Nicki is obviously going to, but Barb and Margene and the supporting cast are always wearing skirts, dress pants, or khakis. Utah women are very much jeans and t-shirt type people.
-I don't know that a woman could be disqualified for mother of the year just for being polygamist... Maybe? Either way, it's a fake award.