It is no secret that I grew up in a very “culturally elite” bubble. Most of my cultural knowledge came from my stepfather, who is a theater professor. As such, my first exposure to Bill Paxton came not from Aliens, or Predator 2, or Apollo 13, or Twister, but instead Big Love. Believe it or not, it was the first TV show I watched live, every week, during its run.
Seven years after its conclusion, that show seems consigned to the heap of uber-prestige HBO television that never really broke into the mainstream consciousness, but as a teenager who felt like he had no social and cultural home, its exploration, fundamentally, of public and private lives substantially expanded my mind and my worldview and still informs a lot of what I apply in my life today.
The cast could not be described as anything other than an ensemble, and Paxton played far from the most colorful character, but he knew that and he acted it as such. I managed to identify with his character’s struggle not because I was a secretly polygamist Mormon who ran a hardware store chain, but because he managed to make it relatable.
The arts matter.