Series: Big Little Lies (Blu Ray)
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Retail Price: $49.99
The American dark comedy-drama series Big Little Lies (based on the best selling novel) is a seven episode contained story by the highly successful showrunner David E. Kelley (The Crazy Ones, Ally McBeal) that aired on HBO and was received with universal acclaim. While the series was toted as a miniseries, the overwhelmingly positive reception and spectacular cast and crew has left fans begging for more Big Little Lies and I can’t disagree with that dedicated hopeful bunch. The drama series starts off simple enough, taking place in the California beach town Monterey with a hefty amount of wealth and over-involved parents - quickly unfolding into a mystery that plagues our inner-investigator for answers behind the who, what and how factors that lie dormant in a series of this nature.
The series follows a few core characters, but the primary role is played by Reese Witherspoon (Madeline Mackenzie) a mother of two who has remarried since the divorce with the children’s father. Madeline tends to be controlling, persistent and outgoing, making her the perfect character to be in the center of everyone’s issues (which includes her friends as well as new acquaintances.) When taking her youngest daughter to school, she befriends a girl named Jane Chapman whose son is quickly accused of attacking another child. An instant divide occurs that causes people to pick a side, but the true conflict lies within each character's personal life as the troubles begin to surface. Madeline’s close friend Celeste Wright (played by Nicole Kidman) plays the third character to be on the side of Madeline and Jane, who has a picture perfect life from an outsider’s perspective, but the reality involves many more cracks that the series showcases best.
Though Big Little Lies may not always be the most factual based on the community, the series does recreate that upper-class west coast entitlement that can be witnessed in towns along the coast of California. The fighting isn’t always direct, but through business or one’s children to strike a nerve in anyone opposing someone in suburban power. The conflicts are certainly relatable conflicts in most situations, with things feeling more rooted in the lives of a parent. Money isn’t the stressor behind most problems as much as social acceptance, ego, and domestic abuse, fleshing out the group as more than simple rich people with arguments about party planning or where to vacation. With that being said, the atmosphere Big Little Lies creates is one that will pull you in even if for the sheer intrigue behind a lifestyle that can waver between entertaining and overtly snobish - so I have no complaints about the ever-changing energy the series emits.
Big Little Lies plays into a murder mystery, from the beggining we know that a school event will bring the demise of one character without knowing the victim or killer. The murder-centric storyline is told through police interrogations with people who watch the central characters from the outside, providing a build-up that in the past (The Killing) has been handled poorly without fulfillment - where Big Little Lies has a contained seven episodes to answer all our questions. Despite those darker plot points, the series really finds its niche by creating a tangible (yet also foreign to many) community of wealthy with there own issues that can be both frivalous and in other instances life changing. From either scenario, Big Little Lies delivers a powerful stroy that can resonate with many and has earned the recognition it has recieved.
The cast of Big Little Lies is a very prominent group with many awards under their belts but Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon have certainly stolen the spotlight (but I also do love Laura Dern!) The pair play bestfriends with completely different struggles in their lives/marriages and neither of the two fall short of spectacular performances. If you want to delve into a series of strong writing, memorable performances and a good amount of mystery, you won’t be disappointed. Now the only question that remains - will they be able to make more magic for a second season without any material to base it off, or should it stay as the mini-series it was intended to be?
Overall Grade: 8/10
Big Little Lies wasn’t what I expected it to be and this adult themed murder mystery in the guise of picture perfect beach-town families turned out to be a guilty pleasure series that upon viwing gets people talking. With actors, writers and a creative crew this excellent, the series is definitely in the running to be one of HBO’s great examples of powerful programming.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Season 2 please! We can make this happen!
- The ending may be predictable, but the time it takes to get there makes it a fun slow-burn.
- Reese Witherspoon gave one of her most iconic performances and deserves to be recognized come award season.