In 2017 HBO released the limited series based on the book by Liane Moriarty Big Little Lies, it became a hit with critics and audiences. It’s female centric story, covering themes of friendships, abuse, secrets, motherhood and relationships set in a sea side town with mostly upper-class women whose children go to the same school and are in the same class. This now first season stayed very close to the book, whilst making some changes that certainly added a lot more intrigue. The talent involved made Big Little Lies a must-see series, and with the attention and awards it garnered it was inevitable there would be another season.
Season one covered the events of the book, going into another season would mean that the continuation would be fresh and new. This season was written by author Liane herself and series creator David E. Kelly, season one was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and this season directed by Andrea Arnold. There were many ways this story could continue, they found a way to successfully continue it and make it just as much a must see as season one. The story revolves around Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), best friends and whose children attend school together. They welcome in new comer single Mum Jane (Shailene Woodley), and they all deal with personal and school drama. Madeline must deal with her ex husband Nathan (James Tupper) and his wife Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), whose daughter also attends school with the others. Then there is ultra-snob mother Renata (Laura Dern) and her daughter getting abused at school. All the while the series flashes back and forward to a murder that happened on a special event night at the school, and it unwinds to reveal who was murdered and why.
The new 7 episodes continue the story and showcase the aftermath of death and coming to grips with past trauma, and how these events have tied these 5 women together. It starts off with the beginning of a new school year, Celeste is now a single mother to her twin boys. Her mother in law Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) has come to town and taking it upon herself to help Celeste with the boys and quietly cause trouble. Jane now has a new job and a potential new love interest, while still dealing with a horrific event in her past that makes it difficult for her to bond with a man. Madeline is her usual self, trying to control every aspect of her life and family, but that gets thrown into chaos when her husband Ed (Adam Scott) discovers a horrible secret that threatens to tear them apart. Bonnie has to deal with the aftermath of a split-second move, her own childhood trauma and the appearance of her mother Elizabeth (Crystal Fox). Then there is Renata whose life is crumbling due to her husband Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) making bad financial decisions leaving them having to file for bankruptcy.
This new season is just as good as the first, with twists and turns along the way that have extreme consequences. What this show does extremely well, it puts the main characters in very real situations, and they get handled too with a lot of realism. The themes are important, it delves into motherhood from all sides and shows that not everyone is perfect and owning up to your mistakes could make all the difference. Several characters are dealing with the impact of abuse and the repercussions of that, this could be hard to watch for some because its handled so well there’s a lot to relate too. As with the title it also continues to delve into the implication of lies, how a simple lie can eat and gnaw away until you ultimately reach breaking point and there is no turning back. The writing is exceptional for each episode, the emotions really hit hard and leave their mark on the viewer.
Big Little Lies cannot be discussed without bringing up the performances, which once again are stellar and memorable. This season does have some highlights, Zoe Kravitz really ups her game and gives a career best turn here. Bonnie is not the same as she was during season one, she is a highly changed person, forced to deal with decisions she’s made and get a handle on her past and how that has impacted her life. What she goes through has so much raw emotion a lot of which is conveyed through her eyes and facial expressions, never an easy task and Zoe really showcases so much and proves she is an actress with a bright future. On the other end of the spectrum, new cast member Meryl Streep comes in and her character Mary Louise causes so much chaos that she immediately becomes one to watch out for. It is no secret that Meryl is a powerhouse of an actress, Mary Louise is a character that is far different from the roles she is known for. Meryl really gave it her all here, this is one the best roles she has done in quite some time, she went all in and the results were perfection. While these two have been highlighted, that isn’t to say the rest of the cast aren’t excellent, they are and they definitely stepped back into these characters without skipping a beat. Nicole Kidman going back to Celeste still delivers, her performance in season one was jaw dropping and she continues to give some of her best work. Shailene Woodley proves once again she is one of the best young actresses working today, and her turn as Jane is a tough one that she handles very well. Laura Dern is perhaps even better as Renata this season, with Renata’s life crumbling around her Laura just relishes in playing this role and when she is on screen there is no chance you want to look away. The male cast are all excellent and well-cast, with very great performances especially by Adam Scott and Jeffrey Nordling, and in the few scenes he is in Alexander Skarsgård manages to really leave a mark.
Whether the show continues into a third season remains to be seen as of writing this review, if it stops at two seasons, we have been left with one of the best shows of the past decade. If a third season does eventuate there is a lot of possibilities where the story could go, especially with the events in the final scenes. It is very well handled that each season ended without a cliffhanger, and able to close itself off in such a way that audiences aren’t left devastated by no resolution, but there is an itch left to want more. Big Little Lies is a must-see show, and if you haven’t seen it yet do yourself a favour and get right on it. Well done to everyone involved with the show, you should be proud of such a great achievement.
Review written by Marcella Papandrea