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Why You Should be Watching Big Little Lies
A classic whodunnit, though quite intriguing, does not always leave you satisfied. But add to that an all-female cast and proper representation of real-life, not-so-uncommon issues like single motherhood, rape and domestic violence, you have with yourself an award winning series leaving you wanting for more.
Big Little Lies drew me in with its star cast- Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern, but after watching the show, that is certainly not one of the best things. Adapted from the novel by Liane Moriarty of the same name and based in a suburb called Monteray, Australia, engages you first with its powerful story. In the first episode, we come to know that our beautiful characters and their lives aren’t as perfect as they seem. A murder, of one of the main characters, has caused havoc. While we do not come to know whose murder it is and who did it, some of our side characters dictate the story all along till the last episode, when finally the curtains are unveiled.
But the show’s strength is not the murder mystery, it’s the characters. All women have children in the same pre-school, but society’s habit of pitting women against each other stands in the way of them actually becoming friends. Though all of them seem to have picture-perfect lives, complete with a charming husband, beautiful kids, an outstanding wardrobe and oh- a huge-ass home right by the beach, their lives aren’t cute at all. All women are stuck in a web of lies, regret, shame and trauma, and while that may seem like an unmissable component in all drama series, this one is unforgettable.
The show progresses at a rapid speed. Each episode unveils a new trait, a new back-story and a new twisted truth. Director Jean-Marc Vallèe tiptoes around small details, leaving you questioning whether that small detail, that small gesture, that tiny change in expression, was a clue. Though every female character is an underdog and you sympathise with all them, their captivating backstories and lives lead you to suspect them all. And the most beautiful part is that the climax not only makes sense, there is no way you would have guessed it completely.
And now enter the reality angle- the actual problems faced by actual people. Their innumerable fund-raising events, big glass beach-houses, stunning outfits, perfect hair, and the ability to throw money at their problems surprisingly does not make you long for that life because the underlying theme of the show is precisely that everything is not what it seems.
Take Celeste (Nicole Kidman) envied by many for her model-looks and handsome husband, is actually a victim of violence by that very husband. Though she hides it, in the four walls of her own bedroom, Celeste is beaten and harassed, and then emotionally tortured to be mum about it because she loves him. And then we have Jane (Shailene Woodley), the newcomer, who is a single mother out of forced circumstances. Her adorable son Ziggy, the result of her harrowing experience, is the only thing keeping her sane and perhaps, alive. There is also Madeleine (Reese Witherspoon) an overbearing, controlling mother trying to cope with a teenage daughter who hates her, a husband who loves her way too much though she doesn’t really deserve it, an ex-husband with the perfect wife and an ugly secret. Throw into the mix Renata (Laura Dern) the C.E.O of a big company deeming her, as she says, a bitch to everyone. And finally, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) who might seem to have it all together but don’t be fooled so soon.
The boldest part about the series is how feminist it becomes as it progresses. It does not restrain to the gender spectrum and portrays all gender problems, right from blatant everyday sexism, to violence insinuated by boys due to the wrong upbringing, to oppression and judgement just because you are a woman.
But as with all movies and shows, a great story isn’t enough. The final and most important factor is the acting. Not that you could expect anything less from Academy Award winners like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. The most wonderful part about their acting is how raw it was. Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard’s intimate and violent scenes are so convincing, you almost see the terror reflected in Kidman’s eyes. Woodley’s simple role of a woman who has been a victim of rape, is her best yet. Yes, even better than Hazel in TFIOS. Though I had seen Laura Dern in movies before, this was the role I needed to believe that she has tremendous talent. Not only that, even the children act extraordinarily well.
Finally, we get to one of the best things of the show- its theme song. As Micheal Kiwanuka’s Cold Little Heart plays, we see all women driving their kids to school. Their eyes reflect in the rear-view mirrors as they eye their kids and waves crash along cliffs and rocks. The lyrics somehow add up to the theme of the show and every episode brings your focus to a new word or line. Finally in the song, we see all women dressed as different versions of Audrey Hepburn (their outfits to the final Trivia Night where the mystery unfolds) and then their children in respective order making faces matching with their characters. The theme song is truly a piece of art.
This series has won numerous Golden Globes and so have the actors. I assure you the climax will leave you shook. And at the end, you will have received the message the show wishes to share. Thankfully, we are in wait for a second season. And if the aftermath of the murder isn’t exciting enough, there is also Meryl Streep, which is obviously a bonus.