HBO has become the home to many great shows in recent years (Game of Thrones, anyone?), and Big Little Lies is no exception to that growing list. This 7 episode mini-series is based off of the book by Liane Moriarty, which follows the lives of 3 women and their complicated relationships preceding a murder that takes place at the very beginning of the series. The entire show revolves around this death and the anticipation of discovering who it is, and how everyone is involved.
The majority of the characters in the show are privileged, “sweep it under the rug” individuals, and this particularly phenomenal cast brings them to life in a unique way that really could not have been done better. Reese Witherspoon plays the “leader of the pack” mom, who wants to control all aspects of…pretty much everything. Her can-do attitude makes her a believable spirited mother, yet also irritating and overwhelming to her own family. Surprisingly, she is the character that learns the most and probably as loyal of a pack leader as you could imagine.
Shailene Woodley plays the new mom to this small Monterey community who doesn’t quite fit in. In fact, she is quickly mistaken for one of the nannies because she is so young and much less Stepford-y looking in appearance. The interesting thing about Woodley’s character, Jane, is that (as kind-hearted as she is) she’s inadvertently the cause of the majority of recent drama in the lives of the parents at her son’s new school. This includes Madeline (Witherspoon), who goes above and beyond to stand up for her and help her face her demons. Jane’s love for her son Ziggy is what drives her to start a new life completely away from her past. And in spite of her best efforts, those demons come to the surface in no time.
Then you have Nicole Kidman who plays the beautiful, intelligent, seemingly unattainable Celeste. Even with her effortless charming way about her, no one would ever in a million years want to trade lives with her. The skeletons in her and her husband’s (Alexander Skarsgard) closet are enough to make you cringe….which you will. A lot.
The supporting cast is just as great, led by Laura Dern, Adam Scott and Zoe Kravitz. Each has a different approach to parenting and love that often stirs up trouble for their significant others. In their own way, these characters help provide a more intimate look in to the lives of Madeline, Jane and Celeste leading up to the town murder.
It is obvious in this community of people that everyone is envious of everyone else. No one is satisfied with their own life, and it is a subtle realization they each come to terms with throughout the series. It is an effective reminder that no one’s life is what it seems- but making the most of your situation can go a long way. It is also a great portrayal of the inner battle people have to accept their choices in life.
The story is very well told, and the pace is on point considering the mystery of who was killed is not fully revealed until the conclusion of the series. But do not fret, because the secret unfolds masterfully, and will give many viewers a satisfactory (albeit, slightly predictable) ending. Overall, this was a quite enjoyable series with compelling storylines weaving throughout. While there are a few ends that could have been tied up more firmly, and a few back stories could have been explored much further, it is definitely more than worth a watch.
Rating: 8 Audrey Hepburn theme parties out of 10 (80%)