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You should pretty much know that a) there are going to be massive spoilers (*and in the truest sense of the word - if you've not seen, please don't read. It's awful to not have the emotional punch because you read something beforehand, imo) and b) there's going to be some pretty triggery stuff for people who suffered as closeted homosexuals. Also, I should throw in a c) I'm going to do some massive exposing (following along with the stuff the show said) about how the Mormon Church REALLY feels about lesbians and gays. (Trans people are straight up sinners in their eyes. Flat out, a person who is trans is barred from heaven, no ifs ands or buts to these dudes.)

I'm going to link you to my book journal, 0hmyheck, (which needed an update anyway) for more in depth information and links. [There are no Big Love spoilers there, btw.]

Again, if you didn't know that Alby was based on Warren Jeffs, well. He is. Because Jeffs had rumors swirling about him for YEARS that he was gay. And that's one of the reasons he was so brutal to women, because in his sick, twisted mind, that's how you show your manliness. WHATEVER, the guy's in jail getting taught daily (I'm sure) that same lesson.

Show stuff before I go into the other:

But I have to ask myself, Bill: Is this truly for us, or is it really just for you? Or are you just trying to fix something that’s broken in you?” Barb trying to keep hold of all of this crap she's been living with and lying to herself about - then her confrontation with Bill about him and Ana having sex before marriage. And that's what happened with Margene, too? Yeah, those walls are about to come tumbling down. She's going to remember how difficult it was to be excommunicated from the Big Church (the LDS) and really start questioning this life decision. That happens a lot out there - people who think they're going back to the "true church" that Joseph Smith taught (because let's face it, they are - that's the stuff Smith taught and lived.) And then realizing how awful that life really is. An author of a few books on growing up under the polygamist/Colorado City leader Rulon Allred is Dorothy Solomon Allred. Interesting, she left a life of polygamy, became a standard Mormon, married a guy, then they experimented with polygamy because he was fascinated with her family. Another interesting note - she left that husband, went back to being Mormon, and rewrote the book detailing that she had been polygamist. But I have the original, which is out of print. Ashamed of her foray into polygamy? I'm sure. I'm also noticing some similarities with the book to Barb's journey, so that's my guess to where that's headed - Barb is going to have to make a black or white decision about her family.

(Side note: the family that killed Rulon Allred, the LeBarons, is being portrayed as the Green Family on Big Love. And it's freakishly accurate, if only I could find some pictures of them all. The weirdness? Yeah, that's spot on. CREEPY. I've mentioned before but a former coworker of mine was a runaway daughter from that family. She used to be raped and beaten regularly, not to mention being chained to the dirt outside their hacienda in Mexico. Good people, in other words.)

“I went from being a little girl to being a married woman. There was no in between. I’m finding my voice; what’s wrong with wanting more?” While Margene's story makes me sad about all of the potential she has being thrown away to simply be a help-meet to her sister wives (you know Bill is going to put the kibosh on this burgeoning career of hers because it's not focused on their family's "eternal goals") Nikki is BREAKING MY HEART. "I think I'm broken," and “I never had the little girl part, let alone the in between!” Her absolute (and justified) freakout about her daughter Cara Lynn having gone missing, then finding her with that creepy old man to be sealed as his 7th wife. "This was arranged by your father before he died." That's JUST how it happens, too. They (the actual FLDS) had a place out in Nevada just over the border and a short drive on I-15 past the Peppermill - a casino on the border of Utah/Nevada and the only thing in Mesquite, Nevada of note) that they frequented for those sealings. In fact, I believe they were leaving that - Warren Jeffs, his brother and his first wife - when Jeffs was arrested.

(Side note: I've mentioned before that my ex-husband used to work for the Jessops - as in Merrill Jessop, who is currently running the show at the YFZ Ranch. They used to own the motel that was used for the sealings. That's how they were able to do all of this so conveniently. People would still complain about it, so they had to be under the radar, even at their own property. Carolyn Jessop talked about this place in her book, too.)

How AWFUL was that moment with Nikki running to each door and you see all of the women being told their fate? And that's how it works: you're told MINUTES before you're married off to some nasty old man. And HOW CREEPY was the scene with Nikki's MOM and her ex-husband, as he's singing his freaky song??? There's not enough bleach in the world to clean off something like that. You did notice the garments, yes? (Those - I don't believe - weren't regulation. I tried to see if they had the "sacred markings" sewn over the navel and nipples, but I couldn't see them. I think they decided that might be too far? I don't know.) And you noticed how Adalene wore her underwear OVER the garments? That's because nothing comes between you and your G's, until you're bathing or copulating. Awful, awful, AWFUL. So sad, her mother. Just practically comatose.

"...baby doll." TRUE FACT: I will go BANANAS on you if you say "baby doll" or "baby girl" to me. That is NOT sweet or loving or anything beyond creepy to me. Kudos to the writers for maximizing the nasty in this episode with the use of that and a touch to Wanda's hair by her horrid father. (Mimicking the same thing JJ did to her when he showed up.) I totally think there was incest both with the father and JJ as far as Wanda is concerned. We're all getting that, right? And her mother is just completely out to lunch. cappy? Are you getting that Wanda is kind of based on the same woman that called in the original tip to the YFZ ranch? I'm getting that BIG TIME. Either her, or Ruth, the crazy woman who was tossed aside by the leader and is treated like a leper out there. She pops up on the boards I follow and she makes me so sad, she's SO CRAZY. And you know it's the life she's led that got her that way.

BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT ALBY. Oh, so sad. OH SO SAD!!! And delusional on his part that anything could ever be with Dale. When Bill tells Dale what Ably is REALLY like "He put rattlesnakes in my bed!" and it just went on and on and on and you could see how freaked out Dale was getting, because HE KNOWS the folks of Juniper Creek (Short Creek, aka Colorado City) are insane and wrong and against everything he's been taught, and come on, this is a guy that spent 30 years trying to conform to what he's been taught, so he has double the shame: he's homosexual AND he's consorting with a polygamist. Double whammy.

And LURA! Turning him in! So heartbroken that "Father" (gag, puke, ack) was with a man and that he had given his HEART to Dale... That was the inexcusable moment for her. But while Alby was just so devastated by his imaginary new life coming to such a horrible end, you KNOW that I'm wanting to talk about what was going on with Dale in that meeting with his bishop and priesthood leader.

1. That place at BYU is real. They really did force "gays" to watch porn after giving them medicine to throw up. Aversion therapy. They did electroshock therapies on homosexuals while they watched porn. They did that crap in the 70s, that's not that long ago, folks. They still have "aversion" camps and things, but I don't believe they use physical torture any more.

2. I can remember in the 90s in college in Utah when I went to Institute (omg, I got COLLEGE CREDIT for going to Mormon education classes, off campus, well, across the street from my dorm, and during the school day) and we were taught "how you become homosexual." By the way, it all starts with the slippery slope of touching yourself. Yep, good old fashioned "Huh, that tingles," leads to Teh Ghey. Guys are actually given a manual that tells them how long to shower (6 minutes or less) so you don't have enough time to bust a nut. Male missionaries were told to tie their hands to the bed posts with their belts to keep themselves from touching their junk WHILE THEY SLEPT.

I have a written note in my Book of Mormon (yep, I still kept that stuff) that reads in all caps: "YOU WILL BE JUDGED BY YOUR THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS! CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS."

So you touch yourself too much, then you look at dirty pictures, and next thing you know, you're wearing assless chaps and a hot pink mesh tank top with a handlebar mustache and pole dancing at "Rods." And you could have been at a Jello social with respectable ladies, for shame.

3. His decision to commit suicide! Oh, so so sad. And so, so common. Here, have a link. (Utah leads the nation in suicides, it is the SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH among men 15 - 24. That's according to the American Journal of Epidemiology, btw.) But no, it doesn't have anything to do with Mormonism. Even though that is the PREDOMINANT culture in the state. To me, that's like saying there's no bearing on the number of surfers in Hawaii based on the location being Hawaii. Just because people come to McDonalds, that doesn't mean that's the major factor in burger consumption. I mean, come on, folks, wise up.

One of the defenses church members have given to this stat is absolutely redonk: "We just keep better records, and we're more moral that other people, so we're not having affairs or turning to drugs." O RLY? (Utah also has a higher divorce rate than the US's average. And they have higher prescription drug abuse than ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. HEY-O.)

Something important to note: the stats also show that suicide is lower for "active" LDS guys than the inactive or non-Mormons of that age group. Hey, wanna know why? Because the church kicks you out if you've committed suicide (remember, you're Mormon in the next life, too, vastly more important than being one here, see: baptisms for the dead) so OF COURSE they show fewer suicides from members. Durr.

IN SUMMATION: oh, my heart. So sad for Dale, for his kids, his wife, Alby - but not Alby.

The moment with him and Nikki and she was telling him that she knew, AND STILL LOVED HIM and he freaked out. And went right back into "Prophet mode" they even changed the camera angle to emphasize that, and then gleefully told her that "Mama" was getting sealed to JJ... Good lord, that is one broken individual. They all are, but he REALLY is.

That was exhausting. And fantastic TV. This is an outstanding show, even though it upsets me greatly. For more on homosexuality and the LDS church, this is a (working) excerpt from my book on the subject.

Happier, off topic stuff is that I had this menu to choose from last night for dinner. For the record, I had the steamed buns, the lobster chowder, the duck, and the winter creme brulee. All with a bottle of Tangly Oak Merlot, which was really delicious. The Mr. had the tiramasu for dessert, took a bite and said, "this is the best tiramasu I've ever had." I rolled my eyes, took a bite and moaned, "This is the best tiramasu I've ever had." Big fan of Kent Rathburn. I was stuffed, but in a pleasant "it took 2+ hours to eat this meal and had wonderful conversation" kind of stuffed. :)


( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 15th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Okay, I didn't read so as not to be spoiled.

But should I watch Big Love? I watched... mmm, maybe three-four eps of the first season, and found it not to my taste. A little sluggish, a little uncertain. Has it improved?

-- c.
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll be upfront about my affinity for this show, which, when you think about it, makes no sense. My g-g-grandfather was one of the first public polygamists in the LDS church. My family (which is huge) still has polygamous members. I, um, helped a touch with the investigation over at the YFZ ranch, which led to one of the arrests.

So. This show is so freaking realistic, it's upsetting. But it's also incredibly helpful to remind me that I'm not crazy, that my memories/experiences were real.

That being said, once the ball started rolling on this series, it REALLY started rolling. There are some moments in this show that I feel are some of the most poignant ever in TV. Like, Hawkeye and the back of the bus rooster/baby poignant.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
It was a borked html tag. I don't still have the window open, so I'll leave it up to those interested to google her on Amazon. :) (The name is back up, btw.)
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
I was waiting to see what you thought of about this episode.

I watched it last night and found myself with this expression on my face most of the time- D:

There was a lot of stuff that happened for a change (the rest of this season has been a bit slow), the majority of which was bad or made my skin crawl.

Alby... his coconut was already cracked and this is going to push him so far over the edge that I'm worried about what he might do.

I'm still confused about Bill's big plan to announce to the world that he and his wives are polygamists. Don't you go to jail or court for doing that? And he doesn't seem to give a crap about how eveyrone else involved is going to be thrust into the middle of a massive shitstorm when he does it. I think most of the women could handle it, but what about all the kids? Good gravy.

And the fricking Greens are back. *shudders* They give me a serious case of the wiggins.
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I think I can kind of see how others might have thought this season was moving slow, but I thought it was the opposite. But then, I'm a little too invested in this show, lol.

The thing about polygamy in Utah is they DON'T go to jail for that. Look at the Hendrickses - they live in a normal community, work with everyone else. Everyone knows about Juniper Creek (and in real life, Colorado City. And the YFZ Ranch.) None of those people are in jail for being polygamist, any jailed folks are there for marrying underage girls, and that's it.

But I agree: it's a TERRIBLE idea. And the Greens are AWFUL. Mostly because they are based on real people. Like, all of it. All happened/is currently happening.
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Feb. 15th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
One of the things that soured me about this organization (the main LDS folks) was their lack of accountability for things they've done. I used to think that while they were misguided about history and really sort of blind to logic, they were nice people. But I have come around to the conclusion that they really aren't nice people if they're involved in this religion at all. They are willfully part of an evil sect that victimizes anyone who isn't like them, whether it's through willful denial or otherwise.

When I bring the gay reeducation thing up to LDS members, they completely deny that something like this exists and call any evidence I bring them a smear campaign, even the older folks or bishops. When I bring up the fact that only whites could hold office or have the priesthood until fairly recently, that never happened, either. It's a revisionist view that insults its victims by claiming it never happened.

On another note, these people give poly folks a bad name. I'm poly myself, though I wouldn't lay claim to the polygamous label for the reason that it's been dragged through the mud by these jackasses. I'm only part of one legal marriage, but part of two committed relationships.

In short, the LDS people are like unto Scientologists, in my eyes.
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD, YES. The thing that kills me is when I hear LDS people say (regarding the FLDS) "we have no idea why they claim affiliation with us!" O RLY.

And you know, I totally agree with the rest of your comment. Completely.
Feb. 15th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I went to my first LDS service yesterday. It was one of the Elders birthday and that's what he asked for. It was Sacrament and Testimony. Oh dear. I asked later about the water for communion -- whether it had something to do with the miracle at Cana -- and was told by the woman I asked "I don't believe it was that thought out. We just picked something everyone had access to." The lesson part was very strange too. And the testimonies reminded me of the one AA meeting I attended (my counselor was trying to get me into Al-Anon).

On the plus side, I got the Elders into their very first Art museum (one kept asking if the paintings were originals). I made sure that none of the pictures I showed them were of naked people, but we did have to pass a few nude statues to get to them. Oh, I also have a shot at the second level of the afterlife even if I don't convert, so that's a plus.

Got any more of that merlot? Brain bleach?
Feb. 15th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Ahh, the worst Sunday service there is, Fast and Testimony meeting. Where people stand up and do their "story-monies" and try to out profound each other with trite sayings and hardships.

The person that told you about the "communion" (Mormons call it the sacrament, period) didn't know what she was talking about. It has to do with the Last Supper before Gethsemane. But they use water instead of wine, now, but in the early days they did use wine to symbolize the blood.

That said, they don't believe in transubstantiation, or rather, that once consumed it becomes the LITERAL flesh and blood of Christ as the Catholics believe. It's a symbolic rite that acts as a literal re-baptism every week for "worthy folks."

And therein lies my biggest beef with Mormons: they don't know their own gd religion!

Are the paintings originals?! LOL!!!!
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Feb. 15th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I thought the episode was amazing too. Thank you so much for writing these reviews with all the insights. Not being from Utah or even the US, I wouldn't get a lot of the paralells to the real LDS they are drawing.
Feb. 15th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely welcome! The show is outstanding on its own, but when you peel back the layers and find out the real story, then it's jaw dropping, imo.
Feb. 15th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
I...would normally read this and comment but right now i'm just...so fucking sick of religious asshats who make other people miserable i just cannot.

Fuck them all.

Feb. 15th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
Your feelings on the matter are well documented, so I know what you probably want to say, lol. And of course, you know I agree.
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Feb. 15th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
This one made me so, sooooooooo sick. As in literally nauseous. It punched me in the gut over & over & over & WHOA. That scene at the motel~~ I was literally crying & had my hand over my mouth because it was just so hard to sit through as the mother of a daughter, & that scene with Wanda & her parents on the couch~~ God, I was gagging, I think you're right on the incest stuff, yes. And I was listening to Dale go in front of that review board or whatever it is & I wanted to think that place was a product of the show's writers~~ but I knew it wasn't.

The whole episode sucker punched me over & over & over. I don't think I could have sat through it if I had grown up in it. Seriously. I mean, kudos to them~~ the writers, the actors... Kudos. But DAMN. Sucker punched me the whole way through. The scene with Nikki's mom just~~ that was the creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life, that was true horror film stuff. A devastatingly powerful episode.
Feb. 15th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
The scene with the motel was SO SAD AND BIZARRE. And real. And sad.

Oh my god, when JJ started singing softly, I wanted to throw things. I mean, they REALLY pulled back the curtain on this ep.
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Feb. 15th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm not deeply interested in the LDS, aside from the occasional missionary that comes to our door. (FWIW, I have English Mastiffs- 200-lb dogs- and there is NOTHING more effective in deflecting a missionary than a couple of 200-lb dogs. They ask questions and take pictures and quite often forget to talk about God at all.) Anyway, I've enjoyed Big Love right from the jump, without knowing how realistic it is.

Was I the only one who thought there was a physical resemblance between J.J. and Wanda's father? It was a brief scene but I thought: whoa. Is J.J. her brother or something? Could be.

And what was up with Nikki wearing that outfit when she went to get Cara Lynn? Was it to make herself so far out of the range of acceptability that she'd be safe?
Feb. 15th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, JJ is Wanda's brother. And that was excellent casting on their part.

I got that the outfit was a huge "EFF YOU" to all of them for going along with that farce of a "marriage," personally.
Feb. 15th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
And the series is still unavailable in Europe. Then again, maybe it's for the best: if I watched it (and I so wanna, because I love good TV), then Anna would want to watch it too and she gets... testy... around religion.
Feb. 15th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
This is definitely the show that will get you testy about religion. I mean, make NO mistake about that.
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Feb. 15th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh my heart. This show is just tearing it out in so many ways. And Dale. OMG DALE.

There's so much to say and comment on and you've summed up so much of it here, with histories and personal knowledge, but I think what's most amazing about this show it that it reaches those who DON'T know the ins and outs of the crazy.

PEE.ESS. My father worked at the Peppermill for the last 3 years of his life. God, I loved going to Mesquite. It was like being in the "real world" again.
Feb. 15th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Dude, $.99 skrimp cocktails + one roll of nickels = FUN TIMES AT THE PEPPERMILL.

And yeah - this show exposes some craziness. Which of course means that every Mormon I know tells me that they were "counseled" against watching this show. OF COURSE YOU WERE.
Feb. 15th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna have to start touching myself more so I get a pair of assless chaps and grow a mustache. *g*
Feb. 15th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU for being the one to laugh at my joke! :D
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Feb. 15th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
you touch yourself too much, then you look at dirty pictures, and next thing you know, you're wearing assless chaps and a hot pink mesh tank top with a handlebar mustache and pole dancing at "Rods."

That's how it happened for me, anyway.

Nikki was so breaking my heart, especially when she was reacting to Margene's little pity party (I've never been much of a Margene fan, I'm afraid). And yes, as you said for all the women (/children) in those motel rooms being told what their fate was. And sadder still how Nikki could only save her daughter.

I'm also loving the glimpses of what things were like for Nikki when she grew up in this. As she said, that's where she got sealed to JJ. You shudder to think what it must have been like for her - even moreso when you remember this is still going on.

BTW, did you ever give your take on the new opening credits?
Feb. 15th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)

They are MASSIVELY significant. It's them, in outer darkness, being cast out. That is THE WORST THING that can happen to a Mormon. THE worst. Usually women don't qualify, because they can't know the "fullness of the gospel" by virtue of not holding priesthood, but hey, they may just toss a few in.

The interpretation is this: there is no hell in Mormon lore, just the 3 levels of heaven (an eternal caste system, whee!) and then Outer Darkness. And you cease to exist. It's not an eternity of torment, it's your candle being snuffed.

Considering that the church is all about the next life being the Most Important Part of Existence, ceasing to be is the worst thing that could ever ever happen.
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Feb. 16th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
I love your posts on this show. This was an amazing episode, because how much horror can you heap into 45 minutes. Seriously, every time I think that they can't twist things up more, I can hear them laughing as they throw in a few more balls of yarn.

I'm sad for the Alby-that-could-have-been. For a long time I couldn't stand Nicki, because I generally have no love for the schemers, but this season she's got my entire heart.
Feb. 16th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
I love this show. It is so heartbreaking and infuriating. (Last week when Bill forced Don to take the polygamy blame! OMG. so awful) But this season, I've found myself loving Gay Alby a little (and hating Prophet Alby even more) He was so vulnerable and in love and it was such a nice change. It was wonderful to see him that way. Kinda like last season when Nikki was falling for her boss. But I knew Dale was going to off himself because there was nowhere else for that storyline to go. They couldn't be together, and he couldn't live with the guilt and shame. It's disgusting that this church (and others) make people feel such shame over what is natural to them.

And wow, Nikki. I hated her character in the first season, but now...they are really digging deep into what shaped her and why she is the way she is. She really does break my heart.

This show--I just can't stop watching.
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

Time Wot It Is

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