Is Meryl Streep the worst part of ‘Big Little Lies’ or just the most realistic?


SPOILERS for Big Little Lies 2.

I was planning to at least TRY to do recaps of every episode of Big Little Lies 2, but then Taylor Swift happened and it’s the first week of Wimbledon and… yeah. My bad. After moving the plot along so quickly in Episode 2, last week’s episode kind of sucked, and this week’s episode “She Knows” borders on the supernatural.

They’re telegraphing that Bonnie and her mother both have some kind of second-sight, or sixth sense. When Bonnie’s mom was having a stroke (literally) at the disco party, she was having a vision of what turned out to be Bonnie’s lifeless body, drowned in the ocean. Does this supernatural element add anything but DUN-DUN foreshadowing though? That’s what I don’t get, just as I don’t get why the reappearance of the detective is really some heavy sh-t. THEY ACTED IN SELF-DEFENSE for the love of God.

But really, the biggest telegraph of the season has been Mary Louise wanting custody of Celeste’s sons. Celeste never saw it coming, which is so dumb. Celeste is NOT a dumb character, so why are they making her this way? Mary Louise has been quietly keeping a list of all of the unfit-mother sh-t and she’s going to whip out the receipts in court. But before that even happened, Celeste slapped the glasses off of Mary Louise’s face! In what was probably the biggest moment of “She Knows,” Celeste was doing her MAGA sh-t and talking about how Perry was off raping women because Celeste couldn’t keep him satisfied and Celeste was like SMACK. Mary Louise’s response: “What should we call that? Foreplay?” HBO even put the clip online:

While it’s true that Mary Louise is THE WORST, does it follow that Meryl Streep is the worst part of BLL2? I don’t know, but a USA Today columnist is making that argument. I came into this second season believing that it is deeply unnecessary but also wanting to give it a chance. What could have been fun-drama in a melodramatic telenovela kind of way has shifted with Mary Louise’s emotional abuse of her daughter-in-law and her son’s rape victim. But Meryl is there, chewing the scenery with her fake teeth and her little grandma glasses. My point is that Mary Louise is just an awful character and an awful human being. It’s almost like she feels TOO real, because we all know bitches like Mary Louise in real life.


Photos courtesy of HBO.

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30 Responses to “Is Meryl Streep the worst part of ‘Big Little Lies’ or just the most realistic?”

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  1. Sofia says:

    No Celeste isn’t dumb, but as Mary Louise rightly said, she IS a mess and clearly isn’t dealing with her grief and pain in any constructive way. Does it suck for her as a character? Yeah. Is it realistic? Also yeah.

    • Kebbie says:

      Agreed. It’s like calling her dumb for staying in an abusive relationship – it completely misses the point.

  2. Kebbie says:

    I love Mary Louise. I mean I hate her, but I love watching her. I’ve always seen this show like a soap opera, but I love it.

    • minx says:

      I do too. Last night, as much as I think Mary Louise is awful, for the first time I found myself agreeing with her that Celeste is a drugged up mess who should not be driving her kids around. But I think the other shoe will shortly drop with Mary Louise. I’m really enjoying this second season, it’s soapy but fun. They wisely dialed back on Renata, she’s more sympathetic. The only boring stuff, frankly, is Bonnie…I just don’t find anything about her and parents very compelling just yet.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Mary Louise terrifies me. She reminds me of my own grandmother; let’s just say I never was close to her

    • Anna says:

      I was disappointed that they introduced Meryl and this character. I wanted to see what the other characters could do before the “blockbuster star” with her fake teeth. I mean, yes, I agree that she is very similar to people we know in real life, but I feel the storyline/script is a bit too sensationalist with her. She seems to be laying it on way too thick to the point that it starts to seem really affected and unreal like a soap opera in a bad way. There was nuance in season one that is starting to go missing in season two because of Streep’s character.

  3. Mab's A'Mabbin says:

    I’m not there yet–wanting to give season two a shot. I watched the first, and that was about all I could handle. I’m really sure I can’t swallow Witherspoon, swampy Woodley AND Streep coming at me full stream lol. Kravitz and Kidman save, but not enough now that Streep wants to win another award lol.

  4. mackyj says:

    Meryl and to an extent Laura Dern are both veering into camp (i.e., Faye Dunaway’s “wire hangers”). Not necessarily awful or unenjoyable but all of the actresses are in different shows tonally: some are camp and some more sincere. Shailene seems conscious of sexual violence and her role as a mom of a child created in rape; Zoe is internal and detached; and Reece and Nicole are in their own soap opera on friendship and dysfunctional spouse/lover relationships.

    Feels like a few genres happening at once, and a lot of fan service with meme ready visuals and lines (pretty much all of Renata is social media over story service). Some of the disparate elements make sense when you deal with the aftermath of lies and manslaughter and abuse and such different women, but it’s reading like too many cooks in the kitchen. I can’t get lost in it like I was able to last year. Meryl is like MERYL writ large with Laura gunning for the same lights.

    • Arizona says:

      Yeah, both Laura Dern and Meryl are starting to wear a bit thin for me. I think Laura Dern’s character worked great when she was only on the show in small doses. I also find it hard to believe that she’s super friendly with these characters now because they all killed Perry together. (I still wish they had used the ending from the book, which made both Renata and Bonnie’s character motivations at the end make much more sense. And it made more sense to have Jane and Perry verbally say that he was her rapist – plus the fact that he didn’t even remember her.)

  5. Rhys says:

    I’ll watch just for Meryl Streep having so much fun with it.

  6. Tiffany says:

    I just think it is Meryl going in and doing her job well. Mary Louise is suppose to be the worst.

    • maisie says:

      I just think it’s hilarious that Mary Louise is Meryl’s real name. She’s playing Darkest Timeline Meryl!

  7. Jenns says:

    I still think Laura Dern is the best part of Season 2. I know she can be over the top at times, but I think that’s fitting for her character. But we got to see her in a quieter moment in court last night and I thought she played it perfectly.

    I’m not sure what to make of Mary Louise, but I think that’s the point. I also think more will come out about this accident and the death of Perry’s brother.

    I’m still enjoying this season, but it feels messy at times. You can tell there is a different director and the style just feels a bit off from S1.

  8. Arizona says:

    I’m kind of over her character and acting – it’s all a bit MUCH. It’s fun to see how the other characters play off of her, though. I’ve never been onboard the Meryl Is The Greatest Actress Alive train, though. She’s good, but I don’t think she’s great at everything.

    Also, the whole “the only black people on this show have MaGiC AbiLiTiEs” is kind of uncomfortable.

    • elimaeby says:

      Thank you! I’m glad I’m not a weirdo for getting that vibe. I’m all for black girl magic, but come on…

      • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

        Haha, it is literal Black Girl Magic!
        Why would Celeste have let her husband’s mother around her boys in the first place? If Mary Louise raised that monster, why would Celeste think it’s okay for her to have been around her kids?

      • Anna says:

        Word. The black girl magic trope, the Black mama with visions that take over her body, the earlier intro sequence in season one that had Zoe the only one holding a gun, then she’s the one who’s taking on the most stress and also now their blame (when before they were united) about his death…It just all feels problematic and of course the usual b.s. when it comes to Black characters and actors.

  9. Kebbie says:

    I like how the guy that wrote this article says he’s in the minority with his opinion and then quotes and links to positive reviews (both written by women). Maybe this show just isn’t for some men. What a horrific thing for him to accept, I know.

  10. Renee says:

    I actually like this season better than last season. I think Zoe is doing a great job of someone on the edge of a breakdown. Also, Laura Dern is killing it this season. Reese & her philandering storyline are the weakest link this season.

  11. Xtrology says:

    Like everyone else, I think Meryl Streep is the best actress in the Universe, but this character is just not working for me. It’s too contrived. As strange as it is to say this, she makes the other women look like great actresses because she is so bad in this role. The second season so far completely sucks. And with nothing on TV, I was really hoping to enjoy this series. But every episode I’m disappointed. I think the storyline is all over the place. And there has to be a new one. You can’t just rehash Season One.

    • SKF says:

      I don’t. I think she is often overrated. She can be extraordinary and she can also be a big ham. I thought her Thatcher was an impersonation and nothing else and her Julia Child’s was beyond awful. I’ve disliked her in a bunch of roles. I do not understand how she got this reputation. I think Jessica Lange and Annette Bening are consistently both better actresses than Meryl.

      • Snowslow says:

        She often plays caricatures with her trademark way of speaking hesitantly and doing weird pauses (think Devil Wears Prada or Mamma Mia), whereas Jessica Lange and Annette Bening have more range (I loved the latter in XXth century Women, she blew me away – Streep would have killed the film). I also find Susan Sarandon really good although a very weird human being (but who cares?).
        There have been a few roles where I’ve enjoyed her acting – she is good and all actors have their default settings – but I do not understand the endless roles she gets. It’s like there is no one else. Actually she has been keeping a lot of very good actresses in the shadow come to think of it!

  12. manda says:

    I enjoyed the companionship that renata displayed towards madeline and bonnie early in the episode, and would like to see more of them women being their for each other. I felt bad for renata during the bankruptcy hearing. Some of those trustees really are mean.

  13. FuefinaWG says:

    I think Mary Louise is hiding a horrible secret.

  14. Mina says:

    I think Mary Louise is a great character and has made Celeste even more interesting that she was before. I like that she’s there to remind her that it’s not that simple to just get out of the cycle of abuse, or to restart your life when you’re still a mess. And I love all of Meryl’s scenes with Reese Witherspoon.

  15. gingi says:

    I think the problem with this show (both seasons) is that it’s confusing: magnificent actors (Streep, Kidman, Dern) paired with terrible actors (Woodley, Kravitz) and magnificent cinematography/music paired with TERRIBLE writing. It’s all style and no substance. It’s beautifully absurd.

  16. Faye says:

    I too wanted to give this season a chance, especially since the author herself wrote the storyline. But, last weeks episode was downright painful to watch, and it’s hard to stomach the characters’ obsession with a dead white male rapist. And Meryl is just not doing it for me, she’s usually great but this role is not it. I’ll finish the season because I’m invested in Bonnie and Jane’s characters but my expectations are pretty low.

  17. Steph says:

    For me, Mary Louise hits too close to real life’s Meryl “not all men” Streep moments of the last few years.

    She outwardly says she’s not a feminist bc she has sons. She also has daughters but she’s not standing up for them. Or like when she said she was worried that me too was setting up sons to be accused falsely by women.

    ML is the worst and Meryl is the worst.

  18. Sue Denim says:

    My 2 cents a day late on this… I think ML accidentally killed Perry’s brother, breaking up a fight, and that the brother was the violent one then, not Perry. I think when ML saw Celeste hit Max, breaking up a fight with his brother, she saw what could happen and may even have had a flashback. I think that’s also why she’s always seen Perry as the good one, not capable of doing harm, and that somehow she had to protect him. And I also think that would help explain (if there can be an explanation) Perry’s rage toward women. I think it’s also possible that Celeste may be a threat to her sons, not that ML is doing this right at all but that she, perhaps more than anyone, sees what’s happening…possibly that Celeste is projecting her feelings toward Perry toward her son…seeing Perry in Max…