Hit show gets to dark heart of polygamy

The Boston Herald/May 14, 2006
By Jessica Heslam

The HBO drama “Big Love” has shed light on the dark side of polygamy by exposing the abuse and marriage of underaged girls, former polygamists and experts said.

“The attention focused on this show is riling up a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t care about the subject of polygamy,” said Arizona polygamist Don Milton, who runs www.christianmarriage.com and says his hate mail has shot up since the show’s debut.

“Big Love’s” main character is Bill Henrickson, a Viagra-popping polygamist who lives in suburban Utah with his three wives and seven children.

While one expert called that story line “fantasy,” another involves Roman Grant, the weasly patriach of a polygamist commune who has numerous wives, including a 14-year-old bride-to-be.

Cult expert Rick Ross said Grant and his child bride are “getting to the core of the real polygamist.” Ross said the power Grant exercises over his fictional community “is very much like the reallife communities and the so-called prophets that control them.”

“Big Love,” which has been renewed for a second season, exposes the “negative aspects of the more insular community,” Ross said.

Ex-polygamist Vicky Prunty applauded the show for exposing the abusive practices of polygamy.

“In a strange way this has had a positive effect even though it’s only touching lightly some of the abuses,” said Prunty, director of the Utah-based Tapestry Against Polygamy, a group for former wives and kids of polygamy.

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