The Corner

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Hello, Office?


Yes, this is Mr. Kurtz. I’d like to be put through to the home office….Kathryn, “Three’s a crowd, four’s a marriage” is my favorite of the new “Big Love” pieces. Here’s an excerpt:

The idea for a show about modern-day polygamists arose one Christmas when Olsen and Scheffer, who are writing and domestic partners, were driving home from visiting relatives in Nebraska. “We were doing our seasonal TV movie go-out-and-pitch gig” Olsen said. “I said, ‘Let’s do a series on polygamy.’ “

The more they explored the idea, the more they realized polygamists could embody universal and admirable qualities that define the best family love. “We’re very much populists in what we’re going for. We don’t like cynical…. We want people to fall in love with these characters and to root for this family,” Olsen said. The show, produced by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions, has become their biggest project to date.

Because the show subtly champions an expanded definition of marriage and family, one Internet critic called it a “stalking horse” for gay marriage rights. In one episode, Stanton’s character explains to fictional Los Angeles Times reporters that if courts recognize privacy rights for homosexuals, it’s time they do the same for polygamists. Later, his wives are taken aback when the headline quotes him as saying “We’re just like homosexuals.”

“We thought that made such interesting, strange and perverse bedfellows that it was just too delicious not to use,” Olsen told a gathering of television critics last month. More recently, he said they never aimed to use the show to promote gay marriage rights. “It’s a complex stew with a complex rendering,” he said. “If people in the gay community want to embrace the show, identify with their struggle, so be it.”