Tuesday, April 4, 2017

TV Show Review: Big Little Lies

The murder mystery and family drama in a wealthy coastal neighborhood provided plenty of twists and turns that showed the secret behind the glamorous veneer. The HBO Miniseries begins with the arrival of Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) taking her child Ziggy (Iain Armitage) to school. On the way, she meets Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) and her musically attuned daughter Chloe (Darby Camp). Madeline introduces Jane to her friend Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) who has been keeping her abusive relationship with her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgård). 

The drama charges up when Amabella Klein (Ivy George) the daughter of prominent lawyer Renata (Laura Dern) claims that Jane's son Ziggy has bullied her. The teacher makes a dumb decision to have this prosecution play out publicly forces parents to take sides and ostracizing Jane and Ziggy. Madeline stands by Jane and deals with her own controversy and clashes with Renata over a graphic puppet play while also cheating on her husband Ed (Adam Scott) with the director of the play Joseph Bachman (Santiago Cabrera).

The drama around Madeline is further complicated as her ex-husband Nathan Carlson (James Tupper) and his new wife Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) are still around as a constant reminder of her first failed marriage. Madeline's first daughter Abigail (Kathryn Newton) is going through typical teenage rebelliousness and decided to take a very unique approach to activism by auctioning off her virginity. Their relationship improves when Madeline admits to Abigail about her affair but this felt like unfinished business after seven episodes.

The show felt a little too contained and I haven't yet had time to read the book and from what I've heard there was a lot more left out. The show builds towards a climax of a party and hints at the climax throughout with interviews of the residents of the coastal town of Monterey. Jane seeks out Ziggy's father who she reveals to Madeline is her rapist and the twist on this one along with the conclusion of the school bully builds to a climax. I would say it was stunning but it was also pretty predictable. The show benefits more from the internal drama, especially Celeste's struggle with her abusive husband and coping through therapy.

Big Little Lies is a miniseries I'd like to revisit again after reading the book. It's pretty short at seven interesting episodes and I'd like to watch in fewer sittings than each episode on a Sunday night. The end of the weekend is packed with new shows but Big Little Lies was at the top of my list as I was constantly wondering what happened next. HBO continues to remain at the top of the pack with exciting new programming and mini-series that test the boundaries of this type of storytelling. 

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