Polygamy, to put it bluntly, has taken a bad rap of late, and for good reason. But we don’t often hear about the polygamists who live in normal society while keeping their lifestyles a secret. “Big Love” co-creators Scheffer and Olsen researched this world for two years before they even pitched the show to HBO; everything from reading diaries of polygamous women to rifling through the closet of the wife of a polygamous dentist.
“The wonderful thing about the research is we found thousands of polygamists living normal lives in the mainstream,” Olsen says. “They are hiding and vulnerable to the law.”
In their research they found a suburban subculture of upscale polygamous families: well-educated people with kids in gifted programs in school that even have their own magazine, Mormon Focus, featuring the column “Confessions of a Second Wife.” From these people they found inspiration for the Henricksons.
Scheffer says both he and Olsen “came from the suburbs” and their intention for the show was to make the Henricksons “relatable to every family.” “There are people who told us we were burning through the story too fast,” Scheffer says. “We think, ‘If you only knew how many stories we have to tell.’ “