Mystery, murder, California moms, flashing lights and an apparent subscription to all of the indie playlists from Apple Music. These phrases best describe the beginning moments of HBO’s newest show, “Big Little Lies.”
Now, before I begin, I realized this is based on a book (about five minutes ago actually, depending on when you read this). I’ll attempt to read the novel in the same fashion as I attempted to read Game of Thrones…through television and occasional audiobook sessions.
Big Little Lies follows the lives of moms living in Monterey, CA with a little drama and murder thrown in. Think of it as a polished version of “Desperate Housewives.” The plot follows these four characters:
- Madeline Martha Mackenzie: Played by Reese Witherspoon. A mom stressed about her kids growing up while worrying that she is slowly becoming irrelevant in their lives. She’s often seen as the ringleader and no one messes with her because they know better. Though it appears she has her life on track, she is very unhappy due to the fact that her ex (Nathan) is getting along better with his life. She works as a part time theatre director and is set to direct “Avenue Q,” but there is a protest due to the plays controversial nature. Madeline finds out that Bonnie (Nathan’s new wife) took part in the protest.
- Celeste Wright: Played by Nicole Kidman. A mom of twins. Often seen as the beauty though she is in an abusive relationship with her husband, Perry Wright (played by Alexander Skarsgård).
- Jane Chapman: Played by Shailene Woodley. A mom new to the area. Madeline quickly takes her under her wing and shows her around town and gives her the run down of what is going on, town life and all. She has a son named Ziggy who quickly becomes singled out after he is accused of choking a classmate.
- Renata Klein: Played by Laura Dern. A full-time working mom, unlike the previously mentioned characters. She feels that she doesn’t get enough respect despite her accomplishments in life. Her daughter allegedly gets choked by Ziggy and it causes a downward spiral of events after she threatens the boy.
I knew nothing about this series, aside from the trailers that aired on HBO while “Westworld” was playing so I did not know that Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley were going to be on the series. Laura Dern holds a special place in my heart as she is one of my favorite actresses and it was nice to see Shailene Woodley break the chains of the bad Divergent movies.
The central focus of the episode is a murder. Someone has died and sadly, no questions are answered in this first episode. The only thing we are left with when the credits roll are more questions.
Jean-Marc Vallée does a great job of introducing the characters through police interrogations of the other minor-characters. We learn that the accused are jerks (like Madeline), something sketchy is going on with the Wrights (too much PDA raises some red flags) and other things. I also like how little we know of Chapman, her son and that gun of hers.
All in all, I was pleased with this first episode. Seeing as this is a limited series for HBO, I’m now expecting some action, more mystery and more mom drama.
Sign me up!
Until next week. Thanks for reading!