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Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Contracts Issues in Big Love, Season 5

Big-love-cast14At the end of Season 4 of Big Love, protagonist Bill Henrickson wins election to the state senate and decides that this is the time to reveal his plural marriage (depicted at right).  What could possibly go wrong?  Tune in next season to find out.

And so we have, now that Season 5 is out on Netflix, and part of what goes wrong relates to contracts.  First, Bill's third wife, Margene, gets fired from her job, hawking jewelry on a shopping network.  When she inquires about her severance, she is told that she is not entitled to any, because she has breached her morals clause by lying about her marital status.  It's a pathetic scene, both because Margene's sense of her own self-worth has come to derive from her success through this television gig, and also because Margene seems unaware that one can challenge the applicability of a morals clause.  Could there really be that much case law out there on the applicability of morals clauses to undisclosed plural marriages?  As usual, Bill who always has a lawyer at the ready when he gets himself into a pickle, is nowhere to be found when his decisions ruin other people's lives.

Episode 1 of Season 5 also mentions that the Native American tribe with which the Henricksons had built a casino has now severed all ties with the family.  That's the kind of contractual breach that gets Bill's attention, but we'll see how much of the last season is dedicated to sorting out that sort of stuff.  

[JT]

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