I liked but didn’t love the first Big Little Lies miniseries. It was a very well-done soap opera which dealt with many real issues (motherhood, the legacy of abuse, domestic violence) and some not-so-serious issues (mundane infidelity, mommy mean-girl antics). I appreciated that the series was about women and I appreciated the performances of all the leads, even though I can’t stand Laura Dern as an actress and I loathed her character. Probably my biggest peeve was the way the story was framed, as a criminal investigation and a series of police interviews all leading up to “the incident” at the school fundraiser. By the time we found out what happened and everything leading up to that moment, all I could think was… why all the drama of the police investigation? It was a reasonably clear-cut case of self-defense, right? I know that’s not the point of anything, but I was basically like “damn, this is such a waste of police resources.”
After the success of the first series, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (both producers on the series) let it be known that they wanted to do a second series. HBO was happy to do it – BLL had scored tons of Emmys and Golden Globes and people just loved the story. So they worked with the source-novelist Liane Moriarty on “what happens next.” BLL 2 is set to premiere next month, and here’s the first trailer:
Meryl Streep plays the mother of Alexander Skarsgard’s character, making her Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) mother in law. I know people are super-jazzed about this and I’m not trying to rain on everybody’s parade, but WTF is this? The whole point of BLL is that every woman is different, and every woman is a different kind of wife/mother/stepmother, etc. So why are all FIVE women haunted by an act of self-defense, an act of self-preservation? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the secrecy on Celeste’s part – she was a victim of domestic violence for so many years, and she’s worried about what will happen if everything comes out. But why are ALL the women experiencing the same version of “guilt” if they’re all supposed to be so different? And again, why is this still a criminal investigation? My lord. Basically, I’m worried that for the sake of “drama,” they’re actually doing a disservice to women who act in self-defense, and I’m worried that this perpetuates the idea that women should feel guilt/shame/self-loathing for merely surviving.
Photos courtesy of HBO.
Loved the first season. Wish Meryl wasn’t in this one though. Hope it’s just as good. Nicole was everything.
To each their own – I thought she was wooden. I thought Reese was MUCH better.
Even agreeing with all your insightful and valid points, @Kaiser, I loved the first mini-series SO MUCH. The cast was/is phenomenal, the locations were breathtaking, the music made up an entire playlist for me, and I didn’t hate the police procedural thread woven through it because the secondary character interviews were hilarious. I DID (and DO because I just saw it in the trailer) hate the detective flicking her g0ddamned lighter. Makes my teeth clench.
All that said, I’m with you on WHYYYYY are they dragging out this investigation?! The satisfying ending of series 1 where all these disparate women are drawn together for once (and I assumed they’d all go back to their own lanes after the dust settled) in the trailer looks like they’re going to continue framing them as allies in a conspiracy. It was self defense!!!
Doesn’t mean I won’t watch it, and I can’t wait for the Kidman/Streep scenes (I think we might be seeing where Perry learned his abusive nature).
the book the first series was based on, was bad enough, but at least there was a book. now they just milk the success. The trailer is intensely puke-inducing.
The majority of the plot is that the women are being eaten alive by this secret? Idk. It’s a reach. That’s a secret I would have no issues keeping. Besides that people keep secrets all the time – it’s hardly this completely foreign concept to any of us.
I wish/hope that the Meryl “someone wronged my son” storyline is more prevalent.
I never saw the series, but I loved the book and had to take several breaks for crying and deep breathing as I felt the author was the first person who really “got” how the abuse and violence in my marriage had felt like. I don’t know how Perry was presented in the show, but in the book he was so spot on – the charming golden boy who no one would believe could be anything but kind and generous. I got my son and myself out and we stayed in a women shelter and as I just watched the trailer, I got chills all over as Meryl Streep looks and acts so much like my ex MIL! This is so eery and I wonder if other victims of domestic abuse felt themselves represented in BLL?
Wow, so powerful Mia. I grew up in an abusive home and I just want to acknowledge how incredibly brave and strong you are for getting out. I hope you’ve gotten/are getting the support and love you need to heal, xo
Mia, you are so strong (and an excellent mother -Happy Mother’s Day!) to get yourself out of that nightmare. I thought the show did an excellent job dealing with the domestic violence aspect of the story. I was especially moved by Celeste’s slow realization in the therapy sessions that her marriage wasn’t just volatile but horribly abusive.
I enjoyed parts of the show but agree completely with Kaiser about the stupid police investigation. Perry was trying to kill Celeste and Bonnie stopped him. Clearly self defense and it’s sad they couldn’t come up with a different storyline for these great actresses. Such a waste.
I’m going to give Season 2 a chance for the acting and Vallee’s beautiful directing. I also hope the soundtrack is as good as the last because it was another big reason I enjoyed the show.
Chillywilly i also loved the direction of Vallee but the next one will be directed by Andrea Arnold, an indie director. I’m not familiar with anything she done before.
Vallee isn’t returning. I’m pretty sure I read in an interview that he didn’t think the show needed a second season and he wanted to direct Amy Adams in Sharp Objects so he turned this down.
Mia, I loved the book.
I read it after I got out of my violent relationship and cried so much. The way she describes Perry and how their relationship was like reading my own story.
The series was different, maybe because I already knew the story, but also because Perry was so much less subtle.
I’m so with you. No idea why they covered up what was obviously necessary in order to save someone getting attacked, and the death was an accident because those stairs were never fixed!
I’m with you all the way. The “witness” interviews were so unnecessary and made the plot heavy. I did not enjoy BLL and was not even impressed with the architecture porn. Also felt that there are so many good TV actors whose acting surpasses these women’s (except Reese’s and Kidman’s) and felt that their shift to TV was opportunistic at best. Was really bummed to see their garnered so many prizes. A second season is just prolonging the misery.
Reese and Nicole are rumored to not get along and Nicole got Season 2 to breath.
I thought they were terrific friends?
Never heard that, but the opposite, that they’re very good friends now and that was part of doing another season, working together again.
I enjoyed the first series and that gorgeous scenery. But yes, the whole “murder”/accident plot was ridiculous.
I really like the first season and Nicole Kidman is one of my favorite actresses so I’ll be renewing my HBO go to watch season two. I’m a die hard Grey’s Anatomy fan so plausible plot lines don’t always have to be there for me to watch a show I love….
I love that your honest about that. I’m the same way! As long as it’s entertaining, I can suspend disbelief.
Loved season 1, can’t wait for season 2. Nicole is so good and I can’t wait to see her act opposite Meryl.
Bonnie was the one who pushed him down the stairs. How can she claim self-defense when she wasn’t a victim of his violence?
Yeah, wouldn’t that be manslaughter? Maybe?
“Self defense” includes defending another person
Just binged watched this last week,loved the actresses although I am with kaiser -I hated the Laura Dern character (she was abnoxious ).I finished the final episode with a WTF-it was self defense and everybody saw what took place not just when Perry attacked Celeste but how horrible he behaved the entertainment night.
My take on this is that when Meryl comes in season 2 she’s going to be a royal bitch and there will be a whole thing about Celeste’s lack of documentation and that she killed poor innocent Perry because she wanted her freedom,she already had the apartment,and so on. I think these are the kinds of things hat actually do happen in situations of DV when the man has so much power.IDK Just my take on how they will spin this,but yeah Perry got what he deserved and there needs to be no questions-self defense is what it was.
The second season is so unnecessary. I mean, I’ll watch it. I’ll probably even love it. But the first season was spot-on perfect. The way it escalated — slow at first and then faster and faster until it all came to a head — the story after this will either:
1) Not measure up in terms of dramatic, emotional impact, or
2) They will try to top (or at least meet) the visceral conclusion of the first season and will become soapy.
The six episodes set up the reveal, the realization, the mask coming off, the violent outcome of all that and culminated in the manslaughter of the villain. What will season two bring if they try to meet the dramatic apex? Another murder? If so, it will feel like a soap opera — ie. how many bad things can happen to these women.
Or the second season will deal, if it was being realistic, with the emotional and psychological aftermath and healing that needs to happen along with it. A worthy story but I suspect that the executives will feel that going that route would lack the dramatic punch that they feel tv shows need.
They should have just left the first season as a one and done.
In the book, the police had to investigate because all the women lied about what happened. The police had no knowledge at first that it was self-defense. Finally the women came clean and the case was put to rest.
This second season was so unnecessary. Meryl joining the cast is a turnoff as well. I think all of these actresses are amazing, loved working together and should have done a different project, like an anthology series series. Switch it up ladies! The story to me had a perfect ending and this is just redundant. Sharp Objects was just as authentic and incredible. I wish Amy Adams had tied with Patricia Arquette during the awards season because they both were magnificent this year! It would be really pointless to make a second season of Sharp Objects as I feel with making a second season on BLL. That ending of Sharp Objects still haunts me! Sorry Not Sorry!
They’re just milking the second season. I felt like the first season was too long. Five or six episodes would have been plenty.
I only just watched season 1 this week since it finally reached a low enough price on iTunes. It ended up being as poor as the trailers made it look, though all the critical and online acclaim made me think there must be more to it. Nope. Seriously, the first season of Desperate Housewives had way better style, characters and narrative momentum than this. But I guess it appealed to the same audience that loves a Nancy Meyers kitchen.
The fact that David-AlyMcBeal-Kelley was the one adapting this set off alarm bells, of course, and they were realized. Mainly, it’s sickening that for the first two-thirds of the show, Celeste and Perry are treated as a Fifty Shades storyline, rather than as a domestic violence situation (cf. all the gauzy Celeste and Perry supercut videos you can find on YouTube.) This is disgusting “she wanted it” / “she participated in it” gaslighting. The therapist belatedly has lines about Celeste never hitting him first, but all the previous gorgeously-lit and staged rapey erotica scenes after Perry’s episodes of abuse tell their own grotesque story. I’m sorry, but this show is men’s telling of women’s lives and it’s glaring.
Even from a basic storytelling standpoint, the revelations are dragged out far too long (while time is wasted on Madeleine’s utterly uninteresting marital sitch, for instance). Then we’re supposed to believe that Jane communicates key information with a look in a crisis moment, after recognizing Perry with an Elvis wig on. I gather that the novel spread out this realization over a much greater part of the story, with different characters realizing it at different times, which is clearly more realistic, suspenseful and effective.
In terms of script tricks/shortcuts, the police interview snippets throughout are pathetically lame; way too glib for a suspected murder and way too dramatic for PTA squabbles. Just freshman-level writing and editing. Also, Perry is infuriated at the idea of Celeste returning to work, has left her finances that allow her access to enough money to rent and furnish and apartment without his knowledge? Highly unlikely.
Let’s note also the treatment of women of color on this show: an incidental witness, a babysitter, and an ‘exoticised’ rival to one of our blonde leads who ends up physically endangering herself to facilitate the lives of the white ladies of the villas. Amazingly tone-deaf.
And finally, the music, omg, the music. Like a mix tape from a boomer’s beige station wagon. I love how they try to youth it up by having it be on the eight-year-old’s iPhone, but you’re not fooling anyone, ye old farts. Just embarrassing.
Seriously, buy an issue of Architectural Digest and rewatch the first season of Desperate Housewives; it’ll be way better than this luxury-cast piffle.
I am one of the only people I know who HATE the idea of the second season. I loved the first season, I read the book and watched every episode as it came out. I loved how although you didn’t have a definite ending, you can imagine what each character goes on to next and speculate about how they will deal with all the events that transpired and what lead up to them. It’s so annoying and childish how the producers of the show couldn’t just let these characters go and we have to be spoon-fed what happens next to them. I liked that the book has an ending point and so did the first season. There’s such a fever to get to ‘the next chapter’ that we don’t let things end anymore.
We don’t need sequels of EVERYTHING. Sometimes it’s best to end things before you get into less than stellar territory.
I loved the first season, and would have been fine with it truly being that only. But I’ll gladly watch the second series of episodes – great cast, great performances, and a gorgeous setting. Loved the music too.
I’m a little bummed the original director isn’t returning, I like his work (he also did Wild, the movie Reese did a few years ago), and BLL was the only of Liane Moriarty’s books that really gripped me, so I hope the writing is good.
I’m surprised so many don’t care for Laura Dern – I think she’s an incredible actress. I hated her character so much in the beginning but by the end kind of loved her.
Everyone is forgetting there was more to cover up than just that one incident, and they’re doing it to protect Celeste and Jane’s kids. We also don’t know exactly what they said happened, as it was kind of vague at the end.