I'm normally fairly adamant about what I like (black licorice, good manners, boys who layer a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long-sleeved one) and what I don't (Ben Affleck, lipliner, "your" when it should be "you're.") But there are some things about which I just don't know how I feel. Old Navy, for example. The prices are cheap, the stuff is cute, but you can hardly ever wear anything after four or five washes. And Shakira! I would rather have my eyeballs scooped out with a mustard spoon than put Shakira on my list of favorite musical artists, but damn, does that "Whenever, Wherever" song get me moving on the treadmill. Also, take eggplant---it's all very well when it's swaddled in tomato sauce and mozzarella, and then served (by a waiter) on a bed of angel hair pasta, but buy an eggplant at the grocery store and it'll sit in your refrigerator for weeks while you try and figure out how to make something appetizing from it. (Trust me, I have one in there right now. I was going to use it to make a wheat-free lasagne, but then I thought tsch, life is too short!) So I'm conflicted about these things. Do I like them? Or do I not?
This is how I feel about HBO's new show, Big Love. Sean and I started watching it when it first came on a few months ago, in the hopes that it might fill the empty place left in our hearts by Six Feet Under (it didn't), and now we are obsessive about catching every episode. If we miss it on Sunday night because Grey's Anatomy isn't a repeat, we make time at some other point in the week to watch it on HBO On Demand. I mean, we watch it on purpose. We try to watch it. And yet halfway through, without fail, I always groan, "My god, this show irritates the hell out of me." But what do I do? I keep watching. And then I watch again the next week.
I've decided, therefore, that this warrants an investigation.
Things Big Love Has Going For It, And Why I Guess I Continue To Watch While Still Swearing Vehemently At The TV:
1) It features mormons. I'm very interested in mormons. I'm not sure why; I'm just fascinated by them. Once, right out of college, I worked for a company in San Diego run entirely by mormons and everyone was just so damn nice to each other! Instead of stomping out and slamming the door behind her on her last day, the girl whose job I was taking over brought in an apple pie for everyone to share, just to thank them for letting her work there. In truth, it was a little exhausting, working there and trying to be so nice all the time. Really, it was very hard for me not to swear. One of my tasks was to stick pre-printed labels onto envelopes, and when I discovered that a label for a client living at 17, White Birch Lane had accidentally been printed as 17, White Bitch Lane, I was terrified about how to tell my boss. But then I hid in the bathroom and cracked up for, like, ten minutes.
2) It stars Chloe Sevigny. Sean went to high school with Chloe Sevigny; they took Spanish together, and her Spanish name was Magdalena. (I think his was Juan.) When I lived in Connecticut, I'd often drive past the house she grew up in---I mean, to get somewhere, not because I was stalking her or anything---and once I saw her on the beach over Memorial Day. The combination of these things makes me feel that I have a certain kinship with Chloe Sevigny, and that I'm obligated to watch her in whatever she stars in. You know, out of support. Because I don't think she's quite famous enough yet. What with the whole Oscar nomination and everything.
3) It also stars Mary Kay Place. Now you may be less familiar with Mary Kay Place, who plays Adaleen Grant and lives on the commune, but she was Camille Cherksi in My So Called Life. You know, Sharon's mother! As such, I am compelled to like her, just by virtue of the fact that she probably once spoke to Jordan Catalano. (Speaking of actors who used to be on My So Called Life and have now turned up in other prime-time TV dramas ten years later: in Grey's Anatomy, Meredith's father is played by Jeff Perry, who is none other than Liberty High School English teacher, Mr. Katimski---the gay one who tried to get Eyeliner Rickie to sign up for drama club in the Boiler Room episode. Remember? Don't say I never tell you anything important! However, do feel free to say that I need to get out more.)
4) The guy who plays the teenaged son, Ben, is pretty hot. I mean, right? I know he's seventeen and everything, but still. Underage eye candy is better than no eye candy at all, that's what Jon Bon Jovi always told me. Or, you know, it kind of sounds like something he would say. Twenty years ago.
Reasons Big Love Drives Me Crazy And Forces Me To Question Myself, Like, Isn't There Something More Productive I Could Be Doing With My Time, Perhaps Making A Wheat-Free Eggplant Lasagne Or Curing Cancer Or Something?
1) I hate Bill Henrickson. Bill Henrickson is the main character, the one with the three wives, and there's something so smug and self-serving about him that I want to kick him in the balls every time he comes on television. This is unfortunate, as basically the whole plot of Big Love revolves around Bill Henrickson, and it really is kind of hard to concentrate on a television show when you're too busy waving your middle finger and making gag sounds at its protagonist.
2) I hate Bill Paxton. Bill Paxton is the actor who plays Bill Henrickson. His dialogue is stilted and his teeth annoy me.
3) There are way too many shots of Bill Paxton's naked buttocks. Really, they're just superfluous. And by superfluous, I mean pale and flabby. I would wear lipliner for a month, have a conversation with Ben Affleck, and willingly write "your" instead of "you're" every single day if it meant I didn't have to see Bill Paxton's naked buttocks in front of my face every two minutes.
4) There are too many lines in the show that go something like this: "no, it's my night with Bill." Also, sometimes the wives ask each other if they can swap nights. Which, you know, gag me with a spoon!
5) I don't really care about the whole "business deal" plotline between Bill and Roman. Which I think is actually a main factor of the show. Bring the teenaged son back on screen already! Let's see him at football practice! Or in the locker room! Yes, let's see him in the locker room!
And so the highly scientific conclusion to my investigation is that although roughly three quarters of the characters irritate me, I will most likely keep watching Big Love anyway, based on a combination of being interested in mormons, feeling an obligation to Chloe Sevigny, and reminiscing about My So Called Life. These are apparently the things I look for in a television program. (I feel sure they will soon give me my very own Nielsen box.) For now, it is my duty to keep watching, so that I can find out what happens next. And as for you? Your duty is to forget that I ever told you that hilarious lie about that Shakira song earlier. Ha! Shakira! I was obviously kidding! Obviously!
I mean, please, I never listen to it on the treadmill. The pace of it is far better suited to the elliptical.