Big Little Lies: Season 2
Our feelings about season 2 of Big Little Lies are complicated. On the one hand, give Laura Dern the Emmy! On the other, fuck HBO for preferring Jean-Marc Vallée's vision to Andrea Arnold's
When Big Little Lies was renewed for a second season, it was met with a heaping dollop of skepticism. The first series was a perfectly self-contained narrative – what’s the point in continuing? But any questions and doubts were immediately quashed when the show returned with Meryl Streep in tow as the conniving mother of Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), who finds it hard to believe that her son’s death was merely an accident.
With little of the original novel to work with, the story has zero mystery to grapple. If the first season was about the slow discovery of what the eponymous lies were, the second is about the fallout. How are the Monterey Five coping with the trauma and guilt of their shared falsehood? Some seem unfazed, while grief manifests for others in unhealthy ways.
If a little disappointing in terms of story, the second season of Big Little Lies was consistently invigorating through the power of its cast. Big Little Lies belongs to Laura Dern – all gif-able rage and outrageous one-liners, she deserves an Emmy for her furrowed brows alone.
Then something troubling became more noticeable as the season progressed. Choppy editing meant episodes felt extremely truncated; entire chunks from the narrative seemed to be missing. What happened to the infamous scene where Reese Witherspoon throws an ice cream at Streep?
Ultimately, the show was entangled in a big (not so little) lie of its own. After recruiting acclaimed director Andrea Arnold to take over from Jean-Marc Vallée, the disturbing report was released that HBO and Vallée took all creative control from Arnold. Never mind that Arnold is one of our finest directors, there’s an awful irony to the controversy when Big Little Lies revolves around a group of women forced to deal with reckless, selfish and abusive men. It's a queasy watch.