Has 'Big Love' Made Polygamy OK?

As Big Love enters its fourth season this Sunday (Jan. 10, 9 PM ET), the show has become one of a handful of well-respected fixtures at HBO. Viewers have long since gotten over any initial gag reflex about its icky-sounding, three-women-sharing-one-husband premise. (Well, I gagged, anyway.) Now we're just trying to keep up with the action.

So much has gone down in the four years since this show started—crime battling and murder mysteries, workplace issues, scheming relatives, parenting woes, class warfare, politics—that which wife Bill (Bill Paxton) chooses to climb into bed with at night just seems like an afterthought.

In reviews and articles about the upcoming season (based on the first two episodes), critics no longer bother to mention what many Americans consider the underlying immorality of polygamy. Again, there's just so much else to talk about. But it makes you wonder: Has this show somehow made people more tolerant of polygamy? Does not mentioning the obvious reflect a kind of acceptance of it?

I imagine that some of Big Love's viewers might have started out believing that Bill's living situation was ethically shady—and then, after getting to know the characters, changed their opinion. Regardless, it's likely that people won't even think about this issue when the characters beam into their living rooms on Sunday. And that fact in itself says something about de-conditioning.

"Thank goodness the series is anchored by the mighty performance of Bill Paxton, now more than ever Big Love's moral compass, its sane surrogate for viewers," writes Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. See what I mean?

Even if Americans have become more tolerant of Bill's family building methods, they probably won't be inclined to emulate them. As portrayed by Big Love, the polygamist's life is no party. Far from it: Bill appears constantly and genuinely overwhelmed by the stress of all these family members (three wives, seven children and counting). Based on the promo, it's only going to get worse this season. Bill might have earned America's acceptance, but he still has three wives to please. And that's a big job.

Has 'Big Love' made people more accepting of polygamy? Chime in below!

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