TV Reads

Two interesting, but unrelated articles on television that I wanted to mention: first an LA Times article on the new HBO show, Big Love (IMDB), which focuses on a polygamous Mormon family, with one husband (Bill Paxton) married to three wives (Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Ginnifer Goodwin). As Susie of Suburban Guerilla points out, leaders of the Mormon church are upset about the show, arguing that they banned the practice some time ago. But the Times article points out that Utah officials have confirmed that “thousands” of polygamists are “trying to fit into mainstream society.” The series has the potential to introduce some interesting questions about definitions of family, but there’s a degree to which it sounds like it will be replicating the male fantasy of having several young, female partners (all three wives are 10-20 years younger than Paxton).

Also wanted to throw in a quick link to this discussion of “unbundled” cable television, which would allow consumers to choose which cable stations they want to watch and to avoid paying for those they don’t. If unbundled cable TV becomes a reality (and it seems likely), then I might actually become motivated enough to start getting cable again, if only to make snarky comments about series such as Big Love. The deabte is an interesting one, in part because one the FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, has sought to curb the sexual and violent programming available on cable even though it might conflict with industrial concerns (Rupert Murdoch has actively opposed the a la carte option).

One of the objections to a la carte programming has been that “niche channels” such as Black Entertainment Television and the History Channel could be hurt if they don’t draw enough subscribers. While it’s certainly a possibility, I’d imagine that niche channels even find a wider audience if viewers didn’t have to pay for a “bundled” cable package (one of the reasons I don’t have cable is that I don’t wnat to pay for ESPN 2 through 7, for example). It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months.

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