Well, if you think about it, a nun is a "Bride of Christ", so technically Jesus is a polygamist!
I also wanted to thank those LDS members who are here to answer questions for those of us curious about the depiction of Mormonism and it's offshoots on the show, which I believe is pretty respectful. That said, the main point of view of the show IS the one of this polygamist family, so LDS is sometimes shown in a critical light, though the UEB (basically a kind of FLDS or one of the other groups mentioned above) is seen much more harshly. I think Bill and his wives are trying to live the best of both worlds, which is also where much of the dramatic tension comes from. I believe their family is trying to live life like most Mormons did before polygamy was removed from the religion.
Most of the LDS characters on the show have expressed the same concern you have, that they dislike polygamists because that's how many outsiders believe all Mormons are like. Heather, a friend of Sarah's (the eldest child of Bill and Barb, the original marriage; it was only when it seemed Barb was about to die from cancer that Bill returned to his polygamist beliefs after having denounced them), has stated since first meeting Sarah that she disagrees with polygamy but is very willing to talk about the subject and learn more, and is pretty open-minded while still pure LDS. Margene's neighbor friend also stated that she didn't like the bad name polygamists give other Mormons. Still, some of the missionaries that have shown up at Second Wife Nicki's door have been clearly depicted as mean-spirited and the family feels they have to hide who they are or be persecuted, which I see as a comment on religious freedom in America. Another character who works in Bill's store and started to put two and two together was shown as very anti-polygamist, though she later states that it is because she feels that Bill has deceived her as to who he really is and is doing something immoral (I haven't seen the second season so I don't know what ended up happening with this storyline); to the wrtiters' credit, you can understand where she is coming from and empathize with her feelings. Most of the other LDS characters are shown as good people, but since we are meant to sympathize with Bill and his family, we see them as intolerant of polygamy and a threat to the family. Some other non-LDS characters , such as Brynn, Ben's girlfriend, seem to think that LDS makes people feel superior to others and judgemental, which I personally have experienced when talking toa fewMormons, though the great majority I have met areregular good people, much like anyone else; I believe this is more a comment on the intolerance of extremely religious people of all kinds of Faith, including other Christians, as well as some Muslims and Jews,and shouldn't be taken as a crticism of LDS specifically, but rather of religious intolerance in general. I believe most Mormons on the show get fair treatment and are shown as good people living up to their beliefs, and are only as intolerant as most religious people are with something they believe goes counter to their morals.
At the same time, the fundamentalists which raised Bill are shown as intolerant and sometimes downright evil as well. The fact that Roman Grant, the "prophet" of the movement and its leader, is introduced alongside his teenage child bride (his 14th wife) is a very clear indicator that the creators of the show are extremely critical of this kind of polygamy. Most of the people on the compound, including Bill's father Frank, are depicted as opportunistic, ignorant, and holier-than-thou. The exceptions to this are Bill's immediate family, including his brother Joey, who in one episode confesses to Barb that he is a monogamist and that his wife Wanda is the only one for him. Bill's mother is also an outcast among the compound-ites because of her independent streak, and is even ostracized by her husband Frank and his other wives. She is also an exception because her father was the founder of the movement and the original and "true" prophet, and it has been made pretty apparent that Roman killed him in order to take over the order for himself. Bill has been made out to be the true inheritor of what his grandfather started, perhaps even a prophet himself, and Roman's dominance has perverted and corrupted the beliefs that Bill's grandfather founded the group upon. In a way, Bill is trying to live up to his grandfather's example. The family keeps its life secret because of the fear of persecution form the community around them, but the alternative of living at the compound is much worse.
I really wish you would watch the series as, like all of HBO shows, the issues are very gray. Bill wants to get away from the moral corruption of the compound and give his family a life more connected to the modern world and the values of the LDS in general, while still respecting the tradition he was brought up in and his interpretation of God's word. He wants the best of both worlds, and is raising his 7 children to follow the word of God and be moral people. At the same time, he allows his eldest children to follow their own beliefs (in season 1 his daughter Sarah was non-practicing and was trying to figure out what she believed and her brother Ben went to LDS when dealing with his nascent sexuality, as it scared him because he thought there was something evil in him and he was under pressure from his girlfriend to lose his virginity). It would very interesting to see how a true member of LDS perceives the family, who are essentially good moral people trying to do what's best for them and their children. The first episode is available on iTunes for free in the "Big Love" podcast if you're interested in dipping your toes into it.
Now a few questions:
Bill and his wives often speak of living by "The Principle". Do you know what this means or can you explain what "The Principle" is? Many of us understand what's implied by it, but wish we could get a clear idea of what it states.
In the show, Bill's youngest daughter by Barb, who is about 8, is baptised in the family's pool. Why are Mormon children baptised so late in life and what does it represent in Mormonism? In Catholicism and most other Christian traditions, baptism represents protection of the child's soul from Original Sin and is often done soon after they're born, with First Communion happening around 8 when a child takes the Sacrament for the first time, and Confirmation later in life when the child takes responsibility for their own soul. Also, Bill is the one who baptises her. Do fathers always baptise their own children? During the baptism shown, the one to be baptised holds the baptisers left hand and their other hand grasps the baptiser's left wrist. What is the meaning behind this?
What is a prophet according to Mormonism and how does a person become one or how is one recognised as such? What does it mean to have a "revelation" and how does one know a revelation is from God and not one's own imagination?
How does Mormonism define good and bad? And what books of the Bible are included in the Mormon Bible and which excluded? (In other words, how does the Mormon Bible differ from the Bibles of other Christian traditions?).
Thanks for being so open and being here to answer our questions! If anything here has offended, I apologize as that is definitely not my intention and I wrote these things with complete respect for your beliefs. Take care.