With its A-league cast and an adaptation of the best selling novel by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies promised big – and does not disappoint. The seven part season one, set in the privilege of Californian coastal Monterey, encompasses entitlement, wealth, abuse, infidelity, small town politics and gossip, scandal – and lies. But what sets it apart from the average pot boiler is the quality of its dialogue, the well-thought out soundtrack, glorious cinematography, the storyline itself and the depth in its casting.
Life in Monterrey is unravelling from the opening scene of this wholly engrossing series as a death interrupts a school fundraiser. It will change the lives of all concerned. It will take seven episodes to reveal the identity of the body (no spoilers) and what happened as, set predominantly in the lead up to the fateful night, interspersed throughout the narrative are police interviews with parents revealing gossip and personal opinions to investigators. It makes for fabulous television.
Big Little Lies centres around five women. Pocket rocket Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is involved in everything and takes to organising like a duck to water. On her second marriage (to Ed – Adam Scott), she has two daughters and her latest passion is the local arts centre and the forthcoming adult puppet show. Best friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman), former lawyer and stay-at-home mom lives in luxury along the coast in a seemingly perfect, passionate marriage to Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) and their twin boys.
As the new school year begins, the two take to new-in-town single mom with a past Jane (Shailene Woodley) and her son, Ziggy (Iain Armitage). With designer clothes and 4WD Porsche or Tesla de rigeur for Otter Bay Elementary, Jane stands out like a sore thumb. And that is to get worse by the end of the day – Ziggy is accused of bullying class mate Marabella. Mother and high-flying career woman Renata (Laura Dern) lets loose and lines are drawn. Refusing to be drawn into any camp is outsider Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz). A chilled yoga teacher, she struggles with being married to Madeline’s first husband, Nathan (James Tupper).
It’s a miasma of drama and melodrama, shocking reveals and a constant sense of dread. The veiled lives even among best friends are played out against the more public confrontations and, at times, petty responses as marriages are threatened, children (and adults) abused, secrets revealed.
Big Little Lies swept the board for a television drama series in 2017 – Primetime Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Gold Derby Awards among many others for drama series, Kidman, Skarsgård and Dern in particular.