In the year 2014, author Liane Moriarty, published a novel called, “Big Little Lies.” The book centers around three women with troubled backstories are intertwined by their daily lives as mothers, wives & friends. As the story progresses, they get roped into a mystery surrounding a murder victim. The novel earned positive reception among critics and book readers alike. In 2014, Oscar winning actresses, Reese Witherspoon & Nicole Kidman bought film rights to the book in the hopes of adapting it into a film. They changed their minds by visiting HBO expanding the film into a mini-series. Think of it as a seven hour film. Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Sharp Objects) was hired as an executive producer & director.
Reese & Nicole headlined the show along with fellow actress Shailene Woodley as The Main Leads. Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz & Laura Dern also signed on. After a year of filming since 2016, the show finally aired one year later.
Big Little Lies aired in 2017. (same year It: Chapter 1 came out) The show earned critical acclaim from critics and viewers alike earning numerous awards including “Best Actress,” (Nicole Kidman) “Best Supporting Actor” (Alexander Skarsgård) & “Best Limited Series” at “The Golden Globes,” “Emmys,” “Screen Actors Guild” among many other ceremonies.
A second season of Big Little Lies will air this June with The Main Cast reprising their roles. Meryl Streep (my arch nemesis) will also play Nicole Kidman’s onscreen mother-in-law. At first, the show was labeled as a mini-series, due to the fact the book never had a follow up. I’ll set my expectations to a realistic level.
The following review doesn’t feature any crucial SPOILERS whatsoever. If you never ever ever seen Big Little Lies? Feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Big & Small Elements
Big: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman & Shailene Woodley all did a fantastic job for their respective performances. Reese & Nicole also served as executive producers.
Reese’s performance is adorable. The best way to describe her is basically a no non-sense woman in a teeny tiny body. Like a guard trapped in a chihuahua’s body.
Other Cast Members such as Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz & Laura Dern all did a great job for their respective performances.
Jean-Marc Vallée wrote & direct each episode. He also served as an executive producer.
David E. Kelly (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, Goliath) developed the show.
Although a serious drama, humor has some laugh out loud moment.
The narrative is told in a non-linear structure (out of order sequence) as flashback within a flashback. I guess The Nolan Brothers (Christopher & Jonathan) and their wives Emma Thomas & Lisa were hired as uncredited script doctors to build a cohesive storyline. Does “Memento,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy” & “Westworld” ring any bells?
Chemistry between The Main Leads Madeline, (played by Reese Witherspoon) Celeste, (played by Nicole Kidman) & Jane (played by Shailene Woodley) felt organic. Besides the gals, their interactions with their kids, husbands & townspeople also felt organic too.
After watching every episode, it’s worth a rewatch with subtle hints. Upon first view, it finally makes sense in context.
Primary Themes are Deception, Guilt, Cheating, Abuse & Motherhood. All five are handled maturely.
The Main Leads each have a deep dark secret.
Recurring characters are interviewed by cops involving the aftermath of a murder.
A school plays factor in as a plot element.
A beach serves as a visual motif connected to a character’s past.
A kid rumored as a bully factors in as a pivotal role.
Ziggy’s pillowcase has a Star Wars theme. Laura Dern also co-starred in “The Last Jedi” as Admiral Holdo. She’s one of the worst characters besides Rose Tico. What the hell have you done Rian Johnson?!
Small: The show’s subject matter can be uncomfortable at times. As most of us know the biggest controversy of 2017 linked to a big shot Hollywood producer alongside a few names labeled as “sociopaths.”
Cinematography suffers from a bad case of Shaky Cam. Who’s in charge of the camera, a cocaine induced Woody Woodpecker? In the words of Dave Chappelle: “Cocaine’s a hell of a drug!”
Product Placement featuring brands including Apple, Vlasic, Google, Facebook, Dell, Cap N’ Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Lay’s, Cookie Crisps & MacBook. I’ll let this con slide, because the brands are easy to forget after viewing episode upon episode. If a television series reaches its brand limit to 12, I will give it a point down. If a movie reaches its limit to 6, I will also give it a point down.
Episode 1: Somebody’s Dead
Positive: The Main Leads are introduced.
The narrative builds up its seven episode story arc.
An “incident” at school foreshadows what’s yet to come.
Negative: In certain scenes, the camera never stays still.
Episode 2: Serious Mothering
Good: Madeline briefly mentioned about her past. She & Jane have similar backstories.
“The Fairly Oddparents” are shown on an IPad. I used to watch it until Poof came along.
Bad: Camera continues to be shaky.
Episode 3: Living The Dream
Yay: A boy is dressed as Spider-Man at a party. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” came out the same year Big Little Lies aired.
A “school project” factors in this episode.
Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” is played in one scene. Somebody’s been watching “American Horror Story: Coven.”
A couple go to therapy. I thought Tony Soprano had mental problems. I would assume David Chase (creator of The Sopranos) was hired as a script doctor.
Jane’s backstory is told in flashbacks.
Ziggy yelling about who his father’s name is made me burst out laughing.
Nay: A shocking moment is somewhat uncomfortable as we all know the biggest controversy of 2017. If you want to know what it is, check out my “Top 12 Film Controversies Of 2017.”
Camera is shaky. (duh)
Episode 4: Push Comes To Shove
Stable: “Changes,” the theme song from Netflix’s “Big Mouth” is played in one scene. Coincidentally, Big Mouth’s first season streamed on Netflix around the same time Big Little Lies aired on HBO.
Madeline & Celeste attend a meeting about a puppet show.
A thing about a “reflex” made me chuckled.
Somebody made a Star Wars reference.
Episode 4’s ending moves forward to the next one.
Unstable: This is the fourth time the camera suffers from shakiness.
Episode 5: Once Bitten
Up: Episode 5’s title has something to do with a plot point.
An “accident” randomly happened.
One of the leads attempts to confront a personal conflict.
Down: Ugh! Getting sick and tired of Shaky Cam!
Episode 6: Burning Love
Hot: The 6th Episode’s title is named after an Elvis song.
During a therapy session, a mask reminded me of “Eyes Wide Shut.” Nicole Kidman started in Stanley Kubrick’s last movie with her ex-husband Tom Cruise.
Is it me or did Alexander Skarsgård’s character Perry did his impression of Pennywise from “Stephen King’s It” in front of his kids? Alexander’s real life younger brother Bill, played the clown.
Madeline’s reaction towards her daughter’s “secret” was my favorite part of the whole season. I’m giving it Bonus Points for making me laugh.
Cold: EGADS! Is the cameraman taking way too much Red Bull?!
Episode 7: You Get What You Need
High: The last episode ties up lose ends. Until Season 2 picks up where the story left off.
The Main Leads attend a party.
The murder victim’s identity is finally revealed.
Ziggy’s lineage is revealed.
The truth about the bully at school is also revealed.
Low: I’m gettin’ tired of a camera not staying still.
The Final Verdict: A-
Big Little Lies: Season 1 is a decent show. At first, I thought I was gonna be some generic Lifetime series, but after watching episode upon episode, I really enjoyed every aspect of the positive things listed. Except heavy use of Shaky Cam. If you’re lookin’ forward to watching Season 2 of Big Little Lies, I highly recommend Season 1. Make sure you mark your calendars for June!
One thought on “Big Little Lies: Season 1”
Awesome article. Reese Witherspoon is hilarious.