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JPTV: All HBO, All the Time…

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…at least for today. Tonight is the return of Big Love, a favorite HBO drama that has gotten a raw deal from critics who relegate it to also-ran status.

Another TV critic–I think it was Salon’s Heather Havrilesky–once argued that Six Feet Under got short-shrifted as too “soap-opera,” which is to say, code for “too female.” Which, if that was true, may go double for Big Love. The polygamy drama was criticized as a male fantasy (um, multiple sex partners = male fantasy; multiple wives and kids = not so much), but it’s easily the most femme-centric show the channel’s had since Sex and the City.

It’s certainly the best actress showcase on TV now, from Chloe Sevigny as a fundamentalist polygamist princess–who’s a whiz with power tools!–to Grace Zabriskie’s commanding turns as Bill’s disingenuous mom. In a broader sense, it may be treated as fluffier because it doesn’t have the chest-thumping blood-and-death storylines of The Sopranos or Deadwood. (The show’s serious, uncynical treatment of religious faith may work against it too, though that’s just a guess–I’m as big an atheist as they come and I think the show’s willing to treat faith unironically is the most fascinating thing about it.)

Regardless, I’m going to try to institute a Big Love Watch to supplant the Sopranos Watch because, well, it’s my blog and I want to. Gather the families around and enjoy.

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