Warning: This article contains spoilers.
“Big Little Lies” has it all: huge names like Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern (among many others) and an engrossing plot you can’t walk away from. It also has murder, mystery, intrigue and horrible deeds set to a beautiful backdrop — and I’m not saying I wouldn’t download the soundtrack either.
Season One Success: Season one of “Big Little Lies” was a huge hit. So far it has won 39 awards and there were too many nominations to count. Power couple Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard each took home a Golden Globe for acting and the series also won the Golden Globe for Best Television in a limited series. They also won the AFI award for TV program of the year. All of the lead female cast members won an award and a couple of the supporting women did too. It’s women’s world I guess, and “Big Little Lies” is on board.
To Binge or Not To Binge:
Again, if you continue reading there are spoilers. The basic premise of “Big Little Lies” is a murder mystery: except someone is already dead. The story is told in reverse as the various witnesses attempt to get their stories straight. We watch through police interviews and flashbacks into the characters’ lives, as the police and the audience try to figure out what happened. The fun part? These characters are all stupidly wealthy parents who act like high schoolers. It is extremely cathartic to watch successful adults play the blame game, gossip, bicker and fight. The writers do a great job of keeping you guessing. By the end, HBO has masterfully woven together multiple plot lines into an ending that will knock your socks off.
Best Episode: Honestly, it’s really hard to pick the best of the amazing seven episodes. My favorite is probably episode five, “Once Bitten,” where there is a chilling conversation between Celeste and her therapist while her husband Perry is out of town. One of my favorite things about this show is its handling of rape and abuse. Both are important plot points, but are not the center of the show. They also show the good and the bad. When you finally hear the story of what happened to Jane it’s horrible, but real. They don’t try to cast blame on a single woman for having too much to drink and then they make it positive with the birth of Jane’s son Ziggy, but Jane doesn’t just move on. We watch her emotional journey from admiring to dealing with what happened to her and how her love for her son gets her through everything. It’s a beautiful message that gives full value to her experience with this heartwarming end — it presents a message of hope for survivors.
Additionally, the abusive relationship between Celeste and Perry is really well represented. They are a loving happy couple to everyone outside their relationship and for several episodes, even themselves. They fight, he hits her and then they have hot angry sex, semi-graphically depicted. For a long time Celeste doesn’t see anything wrong with this and the first time they see a therapist they see her together. Perry genuinely wants to stop hitting his wife, but he can’t. He is terrified to lose her and beats her to force her to stay. He isn’t a monster but he is monstrous and that is an essential part of human nature: our fallibility. The game changes when Celeste starts to admit what is happening to her and seeks help. The therapist is one of my favorite characters (even though she is really only there to be a catalyst) because the way she talks to Celeste and lays out her choices is both realistic and harsh without being heavy-handed — that is what TV needs to be doing. She is very matter of fact and while she is kind to Celeste she doesn’t allow Celeste to hide or normalize her abuse.
Similar Shows: If you like “Big Little Lies” keep your ears to the ground: season two is coming and Meryl Streep is joining the cast. I can’t wait. There just aren’t a lot of shows like this one in the world right now. “Big Little Lies” is a female-driven show with powerful women at its center. It has intrigue, heart and deals with heavy and light topics equally. It is kind of a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “Pretty Little Liars” although much much better. It’s just good, but then almost everything HBO makes is.
Trigger Warnings: “Big Little Lies” is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic descriptions of murder and torture. The show contains on-screen partial nudity and depicts sex, abuse and rape scenes, as well as explicit language throughout.
Rating: 5 stars
“Big Little Lies”
Available to stream on HBO
7 episodes, approximately 8 hours