a few thoughts on ‘Big Little Lies’ (and open thread)


I finished watching HBO’s magnificent Big Little Lies this weekend, and I’m floored by it. Amazing breakdown of how our culture encourages toxic masculinity and toxic femininity, how it silences women and makes them feel as if expressing their dissatisfaction is taboo (because it is), how it damages children and perpetuates the toxicity, and how like a hidden triumph it feels when people overcome their cultural programming. And all of that in one of the most liberal, most progressive places on the whole damn planet, which piles on the damning. Incredible performances by the whole cast… and very specifically Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley (and Iain Armitage, who plays her young son), Alexander Skarsgård, and Adam Scott. Plus it’s a honking huge pile of suspense: the audacity of a murder mystery that withholds the identity of the victim until the very end!

A season two has been rumored. I worry about this, because this is a beautifully compact story that is wholly satisfying. There are no loose ends here. Trying to whip up more story from these characters — unless it is done very well — seems like asking for trouble.

The thread is yours to discuss the show in as much depth as you wish. Assume massive spoilers in the comments.

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Mon, May 15, 2017 6:38pm

I have soooo many thoughts and reactions regarding this series – I’m just going to start with the surprises I got talking to other people about the Nicole Kidman/Alexander Skarsgard abuse story: So many people complained that it was ‘unrealistic’, that an intelligent, well educated, wealthy woman would never put up with that kind of abuse. Really, I heard this SO MANY TIMES. People really, really don’t understand domestic violence.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Anne-Kari
Tue, May 16, 2017 5:33pm

Wow. That’s shocking, but perhaps not surprising.

What I liked best about that plot thread is that Skarsgard is not an unfathomable monster. He’s a real, conflicted man who is damaged in his own way, and is not able to overcome it. The show never uses that to excuse his behavior — as it shouldn’t — but it only makes him more plausible.

reply to  Anne-Kari
Tue, May 23, 2017 10:23am

It’s a standard pattern, isn’t it? Someone is found to have done something bad, and the first reaction is “that isn’t a person like us, we wouldn’t do that bad thing”. We wouldn’t sit still to be abused; we wouldn’t join the Party.