Big Love Season Four: What Went Wrong

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In the opinion of many, the Big Love cast is the strongest on TV. It's definitely the most expansive.

But that can prove a challenge to writers, as the just-completed fourth season of the HBO drama was considered a mess by many viewers and critics. The main reason? It tried to do too much with too many characters. Consider all the storylines:

  • Bill's ran for state office
  • Ana returned, knocked up.
  • Nicki's mother married Nicki's ex-husband.
  • The Greens kidnapped Frank, Lois and Ben.
  • J.J. was a Mormon Nazi.
  • Sissy Spacek was very mean.

And this was all over the course of a nine-episode season.

Big Family

"We asked a lot of our viewers this season," co-creator Mark V. Olsen admitted to The Los Angeles Times. "But we're ambitious, we wanted to dig a little deeper."

He continued, discussing the writing process between he and fellow creator Will Scheffer:

"Once we crack the major season stories, we turn our attention to the ensemble. What about Joey and Wanda? What about Mary Kay Place? Is Sissy's story commensurate with her stature as an actress? And Zeljko --we felt a strong obligation to give him something memorable and deep."

Scheffer thinks they gave Bill "his best season yet," but concedes that the cast must be whittled down.

"We think the show has been the richer for having such a large ensemble," he said. "But we also feel we're at a breaking point. We've got to pare it down and refocus."

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE SEASON AS A WHOLE?

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Whoever wrote this plagiarized from an LA Times article. Real nice.

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Season 4 is the worst season of this amazing show....

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The season was much too hurried, and was simply all over the place. Bill's values were consistent during the first season and during the second season we saw a gradual shift. Now I'm not even sure that Bill is himself dedicated to the values inherent in the Principle. He practically prostituted Margene during season in order to get the casino up and running. In season 4 he totally compromised his values for his own self interest in allowing Margene's marriage to stand. I want the old Bill back. I want a Bill who has consistent and clear values. I want wives who prove that this system of marriage can work for some people. I want day to day life in the family without gratuitous drama or violence and most of all a loving family who will go to bat for each other no matter what. As you can see I am a dedicated Big Love fan, and I would love to be a viewer consultant to the show. Ella

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I've been a big fan of Big Love. The best part of this show have always been, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny & Ginnifer Goodwin. Amazing actresses. The writing has always been horrible, yet these women have carried the show. I'm surprised HBO continues carrying the since it has failed to win any major awards (until this year with a long overdue Emmy to Ms. Sevigny)but my sense is that because it's a Tom Hanks production, HBO is hesitant to pull the plug. The writing has also been horrible and this year was the worst. There is no continuity in any of the shows. It's become a true daytime soap opera in every sense of the word. I can't take it anymore. Harry Dean Stanton was incredible in his role as Roman Grant,yet they killed him off. Nothing can save this show. The cast is too big and too many story lines.