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Mullen: Another quirky view of our state
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

My gut reaction after watching the much-hyped Sunday premiere of HBO's peek into Utah polygamy, "Big Love," is "big bore."

I timed my bathroom break neatly for the end of "The Sopranos" so as not to miss a minute of domestic life among Bill Henrickson and his three wives: Barb, Nikki and Margene. I watched it all.

Set in Sandy, the show had its moments of the quirk and sass HBO fans have come to expect: Within the first 10 minutes, we learn that Bill has a little problem with impotence. And that may have something to do with Nikki's growing frustration taking shape as a shopping addiction (she may be a plural wife in a long denim skirt and waist-length braid but she knows how to catalog shop and run up a charge bill, dang it!).

Margene is sweet, young and overwhelmed by her mothering responsibilities, plus she likes sex a lot and Bill can't quite deliver in that department. Senior wife Barb is a bit of a control freak.

Ha ha, it all adds up to a slightly off-kilter version of "Father Knows Best," with children going wild at times, breaking things, yelling for attention and running circles around their mother(s). Sort of like any standard household, multi-moms or not.

The episode ended with loose ends that promise intrigue and complexity in coming weeks - attempted murder, possible extortion and, hopefully, an answer to the question: Will Viagra work for the busy and bed-hopping Bill?

Anyway, it was one fascinating week for Utah's image. "Big Love" premiered on the heels of the state breaking its suspenseful silence by announcing the new slogan promoting tourism: "Life Elevated." The plan is to sell the state's mountains and desert, because even the red rocks and slot canyons are high. Elevated, get it?

Later in the week an obscure publishing company in Kansas, Morgan Quitno Press, ranked us the 11th-most livable state, based on criteria including percentage of sunny days, mean temperature and low electric bills (the ranking came out the day before Utah Power floated its plans for a breathtaking 17-percent rate hike).

And Men's Journal magazine sent out a news release last week touting its latest issue with a whole slew of "undiscovered" best places to live. Logan and Moab are among them.

"[Utah is] a great place to live. Word is getting out," Tracie Crayford, deputy director for the Utah Office of Tourism, told The Tribune last week.

"Big Love," thankfully, is a rather handy anti-immigration vehicle for would-be transplants to Utah. And I'm kind of loving that.

In the days leading up to the show, people were fretting, stewing, wringing their hands over how the series might portray Utah to the outside world. Egads, some wondered, will we all look like polygamists? Will we be perceived as strange (or stranger)? After watching "Big Love" will anyone move to Utah?

Honestly, if you've spent a typical weekday morning on Interstate 15 into Salt Lake City, don't you hope not? If you stood in line more than four minutes this year at Alta's Collins lift, couldn't we use a little more bad publicity?

Go ahead all you who contemplate moving here. Watch "Big Love." Get lost in it. Pay no mind to that breathtaking view of Lone Peak and the rest of the Wasatch Range, ever present in the show's background. It's all just smoke and mirrors, you know.

Because I'm beginning to relish being odd, misunderstood and out of the mainstream. That way, I have more of this place to myself.

Boring as it is, I am loving "Big Love."

hmullen@sltrib.com

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