BIG LITTLE LIES S2
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep
Writer: David E. Kelley, Matthew Tinker
Director: Andrea Arnold
HBO’s Big Little Lies (2019) returned this Sunday, June 9, 2019, with the first episode of Season 2. From when it first aired in 2017, Big Little Lies boasted a big plot with even bigger stars. The story follows the lives of five mothers residing in Monterey Bay, CA, as they deal with the struggles of the social elite. If you haven’t watched Season 1, you can check out the Rogues Portal review of S01E01, “Somebody’s Dead,” here.
We returned to Monterey Bay on June 9th, where we are confronted with the cliffhanger from last season’s ending. Spoiler: somebody is indeed dead. Before continuing, please note that the following review touches on sensitive topics such as domestic violence, drug use, and rape. Reader discretion is advised.
Personally speaking, I was excited to find out what became of my new favorite group of fictional, dysfunctional rich women. The children of Otter Bay Elementary are starting second grade, and just as we did the first season, the first episode of Season 2 opens with a montage of moms behind the wheel. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is no less manic than she was when we left off. Although, instead of being alone for orientation day, she is co-piloted by husband Ed. Despite dealing with some additional drama sprinkled onto her already tenuous home life, Madeline really does a great job at keeping things together – even as those around her fall apart.
Her best friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is processing the death of her husband (see that spoiler up there?) and the welcome (at times) extended visit of her mother-in-law Mary Louise (Meryl Streep). While Celeste’s reaction to Perry’s death is little more than boilerplate, the added ingredient of Mary Louise prevents scenes with Celeste from becoming boring. Meryl Streep gives such a unique and troubling portrayal of Perry’s mother. It would have been easy to mourn his death along with her. I should add that I very much did not. Big Little Lies continues to remind us that Perry was an abusive, manipulative, but beautiful monster. Mary Louise goes through her struggles as she wrestles with accepting that her son could have been anything but the “gentle little boy” that grew into the handsome man that she knew. The first three episodes do not bring about any monumental character developments for Celeste, but that is not true for others.
What about Jane?
Jane (Shailene Woodley) has a new outlook on life this season. Liberated from the haunting figment of Ziggy’s father (revealed to be Perry in season 1), she is now moving forward rebuilding her self-identity. Woodley’s performance in season 1, while not lackluster by any means, certainly had some stumbling blocks. It was clear that Woodley was still coming into the character of Jane and the darker themes of the show. She has grown along with Jane, and it shows. Unlike the first season, I’m excited to watch as she explores this newfound agency and coming to appreciate her as the most relatable single mother in Monterey.
Perhaps the sharpest turn we see in the first three episodes of Big Little Lies season 2 is from Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz). Without giving anything away, Bonnie is struggling hard to cope with the events of season 1. While her struggle was slightly satisfying to watch, I cannot possibly imagine how someone would deal with the knowledge that their direct actions would bring about the death of another human being. By the end of episode 3, change may be on the horizon.
The technical quality of Big Little Lies carries over this season. In its debut season, the viewer was frequently exposed to artfully filmed and suggestive flashbacks. The element of water was present, with lots of shots of the gorgeous Pacific. As with most HBO shows, the soundtrack is outstanding. Season 1’s full soundtrack is available on iTunes and features the catchy opening track (“Cold Little Heart,” Michael Kiwaunka). While the cinematography is not groundbreaking, the natural beauty of the setting lends to creating an immersive viewing experience.
Overall, this next season is looking very promising. There is a reason this show was nominated for over 20 awards at the end of its first season. The performances given by the entirety of the cast (principal and otherwise) are extraordinarily captivating. Admittedly, I cannot relate to a single thing happening in this show. I am not rich, I am not a parent, and I do not have to deal with the melodramatic trappings of the life of a Californian socialite. But that doesn’t matter. Big Little Lies (2019) has sucked me in, and I am not ready to see this ride end. I will be anxiously awaiting for the remainder of the episodes to premiere. I encourage you to give it a try if you have not already.
Season 2 kicks off Sunday, June 9, 2019, at 9:00 PM on HBO.