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Review: ‘Big Little Lies’

Benjamin Frohman ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Write

The HBO miniseries Big Little Lies just ended, but the emotions are still very much in the air. The 7-episode dark comedy show takes a look into the lives of three moms of kids in first grade and how their stories interlock, ending in murder. Oscar-winning Reese Witherspoon plays Madeline, one of the moms who has an eye out for gossip and loves to partake in any way she can. Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman plays Celeste Wright, a mom who is in a volatile relationship that jeopardizes everything in her path. Shailene Woodley plays a young mother; she is new to the town of Monterey and wants to keep her head down as she comes from a dark past, but instead ends up making a big splash. The show takes big movie actresses and brings them to a smaller, more intimate setting.

Other actresses in the picture include Zoë Kravitz, who brings some zen playing the complex Bonnie, who is the new girlfriend of Madeline’s ex-husband. Laura Dern plays Renata Klein, a ferocious mother that is always there fueling friction and explosive situations. The women are fierce, chaotic, and intricate, as they blow punches at each other, while weaving past one another in a web of emotional turmoil. The cast is rounded out by Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, and James Tupper, who all pitch in to increase the tension, while the other parents of the first grade students give biting commentary on the other characters. The flawed characters give an added spin to a narrative surrounded by perfection and flawless stigmas.

Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman in 'Big Little Lies'. Photo Credit: HBO.
Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman in ‘Big Little Lies’. Photo Credit: HBO.

The dark comedic undertones of the plot make the viewer wary of what exactly they are watching, and a bit unprepared for some very intriguing plot twists. The story is smart, the dialogue is fresh, and the characters feel authentically juicy and gripping. Big Little Lies balances heavy themes like bullying, abuse, and rape with a satirical high-class vibe that shows flaws in the “perfect” lives of the elite. The soundtrack is killer and gives an extra flare to the show, as well as the visuals offered in the setting of the beautiful, almost exotic Monterey, a small coastal town located in California. The show is based off the book of the same name written by Liane Moriarty, and adds visuals to the plot lines on the page. As there is only one book now, the show was originally intended one season; however, the ending hints at a possible continuation.

The show has gained enough velocity to continue through more seasons, and leaves the drama-hungry viewer wanting even more. I’ve never seen a show of this kind on HBO and I am intrigued by the possibilities that await these characters. I would definitely recommend this show, as it is only 7 episodes and delivers excitement, drama, and guilty pleasures in every single one.

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