NY Times on Big Love: “Plenty of Salacious” Content

Some Latter-day Saints have hoped that HBO’s upcoming series, “Big Love,” would not be the sensationalistic and salacious drama that some of us expect. Who could possibly put “salacious” and HBO in the same sentence? Well, the New York Times, for one. Their story, ““Notice Anything Funny About the Folks Next Door?” notes that there is “plenty of salacious” material (page 3 of the story) and gives a few unwelcome glimpses into the situations that will be explored in the show. Some of you may recognize that the New York Times often takes a slightly more liberal stance on moral issues than I do, so if “Big Love” is raunchy enough to merit the “salacious” label from them, then I doubt that they are overreacting. With its salacious and sensationalistic depiction of modern polygamy as if that were representative of Utah and Mormons (notwithstanding the little disclaimer at the end that no one will notice), one thing is for sure: this show is going to end up being required viewing for thousands of high school and college classes.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

7 thoughts on “NY Times on Big Love: “Plenty of Salacious” Content

  1. High school english convinced me that in too many cases, labeling a book as “classic” is just a gimmick to get something offensive and/or poorly written onto required reading lists — guaranteed book sales forever after.

    Many of these books are downright disgusting (Catch 22 comes to mind). Though there is sometimes an interesting story or important message buried under the slime, I’m not sure it’s worth slogging through to get.

    I’m afraid you could be right about the future of “required viewing.” The combination of “educational value” (i.e. shocking/offensive) and the opportunity for a permanent market is just too tempting.

  2. I think the show is awesome! I’ve seen all 4 episodes and for someone who is interested in Mormonism (I know the characters are not technically Mormon and would be excommunicated from the Church, but they are more Mormon that anything else..) this show has lots of that content. There are some salacious moments – well, having 3 wives by itself is salacious already, but for the most part that really isn’t the focus of the show. I think there will be lots of interesting dynamics between the 4 spouses, and their children and their friends, and also between the characters and the folks in the compound. One of the reasons the show works for me is the “what happens next” factor…

    PS: I’m loving this blog…keep up the Good Work!

  3. The show makes it very clear that this family is 1. Not LDS and 2. not a typical example of Utah polygamy. That’s sort of the point. They don’t fit in anywhere. They don’t fit in with the poligimast compound they left, but because they are polygamist they don’t fit in with whitebread Utah.

  4. Jeff,
    Maybe the NYT has redefined the connotation of “salacious” into something good? Maybe it’s now a good/evil evil/good kind of thing.

    Salacious sells to the mainstream nowadays.

  5. Mike,

    The fact that it’s in Utah is enough in many peoples mind to link it to LDS. I am LDS but have never lived anywhere near Utah or the southwest. The first think that comes to many people’s mind when you say “LDS” or “mormon” is polygamy. This is sort of the point, exploiting this sterotype.

    Casey S.

  6. I think Big Love is generally a positive thing. We know polygamy will eventually be restored and I have viewed with suspicion the pseudo-puritanism of anti-polygamy groups. People and groups that ordinarily would scoff at traditional morality have in the recent past affected a posture of dissaproval toward polygamy while simultaneously championing gay rights and others deviations from standard morality. I am comfortable with Jerry Falwell taking an anti-polygamy stance. He sincerely believes it is contrary to God’s law. On the other hand, I have no respect for new-found, fake sexual puritanism when it is directed exclusively against polygamists by people otherwise not interested in morality. A good test is this. If they support criminalizing adultery and unlawful cohabitation in Utah but not New York, their motives are suspect.

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