Over the years, I grew to hate Bill Henrickson. His single-minded zealotry, his my-way-or-the-highway vision of life, and, perhaps worst of all, the way he translated that vision into something he believed was saving all men and women, even though everything he touched turned to shit, all of this made him into someone I didn’t care for.
My favorite parts of the show throughout its run came when the focus was on the sister wives. They were interesting and complex characters, capable of change (even Nikki, one of the most petty characters in TV history, completely nailed by Chloë Sevigny, who ruled pretty much every scene she was in, made baby steps at the end).
The point is, I wanted Bill to finally be confronted with the ways his self-righteousness harmed those he loved. And the ending wasn’t what I hoped for. As is often the case, Alan Sepinwall said it before me, and I can only tip my cap and say he speaks for me:
[T]he Henrickson women do seem very happy in this moment [the closing scene], but all I could think was, “Bill made this possible by dying.” Because a living, breathing, preaching Bill Henrickson had been shown pretty clearly over five seasons of “Big Love” to be an utter cancer to his family: myopic and petulant and manipulative and self-righteous and constantly causing pain, large and small, to the three women who had chosen to be his wives. That they've all finally come into their own and learned to co-exist peacefully without the usual tension and jealousy is something that only could have happened once Bill left the picture.
Ultimately, I found Big Love to be a sporadically good series, and I did stick with it to the end, which says something. In that, it was a lot like Six Feet Under, another HBO series that reached many highs but was inconsistent. I felt Six Feet Under’s highs were loftier than Big Love’s. So I’ll give Big Love a final grade of either a high B or a low B+, and admit I don’t really expect to miss it now that it’s gone.