HBO to Air Controversial Big Love Endowment Episode

HBO to Air Controversial Big Love Episode Despite LDS Outcry


Thank goodness the show will go on, because I could not take one less of the two Big Love episodes left this season. What's the problem? Sunday's episode will feature a ceremony sacred (and kind of secret) to the mainstream Mormon church.

In the episode, Jeanne Tripplehorn's character, notorious do-gooder and wishy-washy polygamist Barb, goes through an endowment ceremony when she's threatened with excommunication. I hesitate to describe what endowment is because I'll probably get it wrong. But it's like an adult baptism with the water and the oil, and unlike it in that participants are taught gospel laws, given key words they'll need in the afterlife, and tested afterward.

Probably the most accurate depiction you'll find outside a Mormon temple is Sunday's episode. An adviser who is familiar (yet nameless?) with temple ceremonies advised Big Love's producers so they could get every detail right. He even remained on set during filming. HBO has half-heartedly apologized, saying, "Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology."

From the church's point of view, HBO is breaking its earlier promise to focus on polygamy and stay away from mainstream Mormonism. But the only legal promise HBO ever made was a one-time disclaimer that aired in the series premiere, stating the modern-day church did not support polygamy.

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