Mar. 12, 2006
60 min.
HBO TV Network

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Big Love tv show photo

Big Love

From creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer comes Big Love, the story of a man, Bill Henrickson, living in Salt Lake City with his three wives, three houses, and three families. Polygamy loves company...

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Barb Henrickson Big Love
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Barb Henrickson

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  Played by:
Jeanne TripplehornJeanne Tripplehorn
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 10, 1963, Jeanne Tripplehorn developed an interest in performing through ...

Character Bio

Barb Henrickson photo
Barbara "Barb" Dutton Henrickson is a character on HBO's Big Love portrayed by Jeanne Tripplehorn. Barb is the first wife of Bill Henrickson. Barb was raised in a traditional Mormon family, outside polygamy. Bill and Barb met while in college, and married soon afterwards. Together, they had three children. Barb almost died of uterine cancer after the birth of Tancy "Teeny" Henrickson, the youngest of Barb's children, right before Bill married wife #2 Nicolette "Nicki" Grant and later, wife #3 Margene Heffman.


Barb's mother and sister disowned her because she followed Bill into polygamy; her sister is shown as the modern, one-husband wife, raising her two biological and one adopted children, and holding down a job and good status in the local community. However, repeated references are made to Barb's mother "not being ready" to meet with Barb at the time of the first season of the show, presumably because of her disapproval of the plural marriage her daughter has entered into. Barb substitute teaches first grade and seems to be the wife with the "cooler" head. She has a close relationship with youngest wife Margene Heffman, who looks up to her as the head sister-wife.

Both Nicki and Margie look up to Barb as not only big sister, but also like a mother/authority figure. For example, when Nicki pits herself against Margie, they both scramble to get Barb's attention and wisdom to solve the conflict, most prominently seen in the episode 'Good Guys and Bad Guys'. In this argument, Nicki has commandeered Margene's mother away from Margene, and when they find out Barb is on the phone, they both fight over the line to tell Barb their side of the story. Barb, though she's closest to Margie, is often paranoid about the youngest wife's relationship with the teenaged Henrickson children. Margie, being scarcely out of teenhood herself, has a close friendship with Ben and Sarah, causing Barb to be both jealous and scared of at the same time. Barb eventually confronts Margie about her relationship with Ben, saying that it is "inappropriate" referencing the obvious one-sided attraction Ben has for his third mother.

Season 2

Is focused upon Barb's realization that the polygamous religion that she is involved in may not be an ideal situation, as a war begins between the polygamous compounds and she sees the abusive behavior of other polygamous couples, specifically Bill's parents and Roman and his many wives. She also begins to realize that just because she, Nicki, and Margene are off the compound, it doesn't mean that their situation is any different from those that are fighting within the compound. She also fears that her only son Ben Henrickson believes in polygamy and asks her mother to take him and introduce him to non-polygamist Mormons, hoping to erase his interest in plural marriage.

Because Margene wants to be a surrogate mother for Pam, Margene's friend and neighbor, Barb "outs' the family as polygamous to her so that the subject will no longer be in question. She also tells Bill that she rejects the idea of ever having a fourth wife, and to appease her, he offers her a board membership in his new company, Weber Gaming.

Season 3

Barb discovers that her sister Cindy and her husband Ted have been plotting against her and Bill by supporting a Utah legislation banning gambling in the works and to suppress letters from the first Mormon leaders proving that polygamy was never intended to be abolished (these letters were later proven to be fake). She also supports Bill's dating of Ana, the waitress from Season 2, even going as far as to ask for a formal dating process, and explaining the basic beliefs of plural marriage to her. As the season progresses, Ana is seen by Bill and Barb cavorting with an ex-lover, but is later forgiven by all and subsequently marries into the family. Barb insists that Ana live with her and tells Margene and Nikki that Ana is more like a friend than a sister-wife and it is a great comfort to her. That same episode, Ana tells the family she made a mistake and divorces them. Episode 30 the family takes a cross country trip to discover their Mormon roots at Hill Cumorah, NY at Bill's urging. Barb discovers Nicki's birth control pack in the motel bathroom but she assumes they are Sarah's, not knowing her oldest daughter is already pregnant. When Sarah later miscarries, Barb (along with the rest of the family) is shocked, but rally to support her. Later in the season, Barb is shown struggling with her possible excommunication from the church and turns to her mother and sister for their assistance in sponsoring her in a sacrament ceremony. The family accepts her plea and Barb takes place in the ceremony. In the last episode of the season, Barb is questioned by the leaders of her local church and they request her to renounce polygamy. When she refuses, she is excommunicated.

Season 4

Barb taking a leadership role at the casino that the family has opened on a Blackfoot Indian reservation, but coming into conflict with Native American customs and culture. She at first opposes daughter Sarah's choice of a secular Justice of the Peace marriage, worried that she and her husband will not reunite in eternity.

Episode Screenshots

04x09 - End of Days
Season 4, Episode 09
02x06 - Dating Game
Season 2, Episode 06
01x06 - Roberta's Funeral
Season 1, Episode 06
04x06 - Under One Roof
Season 4, Episode 06
[More Episodes]

Barb Henrickson Photos

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