"Big Love" returns to TV with provocative gay story

Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:29pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Television polygamy drama "Big Love" returns for a fourth season in January with a gay storyline that is likely to stir up controversy in Mormon circles where homosexual relations are prohibited.

The creators of the HBO cable show, about a non-Mormon polygamous family living in Utah, plan to explore a same-sex relationship between two male characters involved in a fictional breakaway sect at the center of the series.

The theme will be developed over early episodes of "Big Love" when it returns to HBO on Jan 10, the network confirmed on Wednesday.

It follows an uproar in the U.S. gay community last year over the Mormon church's prominent support of the campaign to overthrow same-sex marriage laws in California.

"There's a provocative nature to what we're doing," co-creator Mark Olsen told Entertainment Weekly magazine.

"It's more than just the Mormon culture. We're highlighting certain aspects of the church's relationship with its gay members that I think, as the story unfolds, is going to cause no (small) amount of controversy."

The 13.5 million member Mormon church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, officially banned polygamy in 1890 and has distanced itself from "Big Love".

But critics of the program say that despite its focus on a fundamentalist sect, the TV show sometimes blurs the distinction between it and the church.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Bill Paxton (2nd R) poses with co-stars Jeanne Tripplehorn (L), Chloe Sevigny (2nd L) and Ginnifer Goodwin at the premiere of "Big Love" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood February 23, 2006. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>