Post the Golden Globes this year, it is obvious that I binge watched what the jury thought was the best miniseries. Do I think it deserved it? Maybe not. Did I like it? Oh yes! Binge watch it on a cheat stay-at-home day. It sure is a decent watch.
Big Little Lies, I felt, was an older sibling of Pretty Little Liars. The problems were definitely more mature and the cast certainly august but the setup pretty similar. The series is about a small town in California where the rich flock to give their children a good education. Shailene Woodly plays Jane who was raped and now raises her kid Ziggy alone. She comes to Monterey to run away from her past and give Ziggy a good public school education. She soon becomes friends with the hyper-active ‘soccer-mom’ Madeline played by Reese Witherspoon. Together, with Celeste, Madeline’s best friend ( played by Nicole Kidman), the three join forces to fight Renata (Laura Dern) who is convinced Ziggy is bullying her daughter. While the series starts with the murder investigation of an unnamed victim, it moves on to air some really dirty laundry of each of the families. Madeline is still hung on her ex, Nathan, who is married to a mystique beauty, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz). The fact that her marriage to Ed (Adam Scott) is in a limbo, her elder daughter is selling her virginity online and that she is cheating on Ed with the drama teacher doesn’t help her overtly social profile. Celeste is turn has her own ugly secrets to hide. She is in an abusive relationship with her husband ( Perry played by Alexander Skarsgard) and is in denial of it and the fact that he is the perfect father and husband in front of everyone else, doesn’t help. She reaches her wit’s end and admits to it when the abuse becomes life-threateningly physical and manifests on her children too. Jane in turn is fighting her own battles as she tries to shut away and confront her past demons simultaneously. Renata plays the overachiever hyper mom who is I belive the easiest to sympathise with. Each woman and their kids bring their own baggage. The story is narrated in the form of confessions leading up to the unravelling of the victims identity in the last episode.
Though regarded a mystery, the victim’s identity and Shailene’s rapist’s identity were no-brainers. I think more than the narration, what stood out in this series was the direction and the acting. Reese,Laura and Shailene played very convincing mothers with their own characteristic personalities. The best was however Nicole who most convincingly played the role of a victim. Everything, from her giving up her career for kids and repenting it, her hitting back in self-defense, her wanting to continue the marriage for the sake of kids, her publicly denying abuse – all of it was truly how a modern-day woman deals with marital abuse. Her acting was truly brilliant. One other person for whom my heart went out was Adam Scott’s character. He was just too naive and perfect to be on the receiving end of such drama. But then again, I agree with one of the witnesses who said “something was off about him”. I would love to see another season with him in a more prominent role. Ziggy, played by the ‘Young Sheldon’, was cute and brilliant in his own way.
On a totally related note, The Crown deserved the Golden Globe.