There have been tons of unique families in TV history, but none quite as interesting as the Hendricksons of Big Love. Before Sister Wives, this was television’s most riveting examination of plural marriage. For me, it’s one of television’s most underrated dramas and I’m still a little annoyed that it ends its run tonight having never received the high ratings or critical acclaim of HBO’s other series (No Emmy wins?!? Really?!?!).
While Bill Paxton’s Bill was the patriarch of the family, I’ve always felt the series was truly about the sister wives: Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloe Sevigny), and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). I’m not sure there was another show on television that featured such complex, layered female characters or a more sterling trio of actresses. Sevigny was always the revelation, in the way she took an initially abrasive character and somehow turned her into the heart of the show, particularly in her struggle to balance her home life with her ties to the compound. But then Love was also blessed with a heaven-sent cast of supporting characters, including Harry Dean Stanton’s terrifying Roman and Amanda Seyfried’s rebellious Sarah.
The series hit its creative and emotional peak with its season 3 road trip episode, “Come, Ye Saints.” It climaxed with one of Big Love’s most moving and powerful moments, delivered without any dialogue: the Hendrickson family comforting daughter Sarah after she lost her unborn baby. Tonight, Big Love airs its final episode and I will definitely miss being part of this family.