I was genuinely all ready to hate Big Little Lies, but imagine my surprise when the pilot was surprisingly good, and the second outing was even better. Am I really hooked on the show that quickly?
The great thing about HBO’s newest offering is that there’s a real sense of place. Monterey feels like a living, breathing entity, and you’re immediately captivated by its characters as they drive around its stunning landscapes and idyllic atmosphere. There’s something so strangely addictive about Madeline and Celeste’s world (they’re the two leads as far as I’m concerned), and I’ve found myself completely enthralled by their journeys.
Although Reese Witherspoon was just as terrific as she was in the pilot as Monterey’s Queen Bee, it’s her husband Ed that finally got some dimension this week. He was dreadfully boring last week, but watching him stand up to Nathan in his own twisted way was immensely satisfying. Anyone else feel like he could be a serial killer in the making? There’s something unsettling brewing beneath that facade, and Adam Scott has tapped into it perfectly. Plus I kind of found myself rooting for him and Madeline at the end there. Who would have thought?
Nicole Kidman is saddled with a much trickier role, and she’s doing an impeccable job. On the surface, she’s just another domestic abuse victim, but there’s an added layer to the proceedings with Celeste revealing that she somewhat enjoys it, and the passion that arises from the violence. That sex scene in the closet was painfully disturbing to watch, and kudos to Kidman and Skarsgard for playing it so well. The latter in particular is even more unnerving than he was on True Blood, and seeing as how he played a bloodthirsty vampire on that show, this is quite the accomplishment.
Finally, I need to reiterate how much I love the fact that all of this season’s episodes have the same director. This supplies the show with a consistent visual palette, and that’s amplified by the masterful editing. Notice how scenes randomly and quite jarringly cut from one to the another – it’s a creative touch that allows the show to really adopt a unique tone (particularly with the interviews and confessions interspersed throughout).
Bits & Lies
– I don’t know why I didn’t even notice the opening sequence last week; I just assumed it was part of the episode. It’s pretty weird with the women driving and that weird theatrical showcase, but I love it and I love the song (Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka)
– Hilarious yoga scene. I’m going to need a catfight between Madeline and Bonnie asap.
– I think my favorite character on the show is little Chloe. Darby Camp is a freakin’ revelation, and I love how she supplies the show with its incredible soundtrack.
– I know I’m nitpicking, but Madeline told Celeste she needs vodka, so why were they drinking wine?
– Horrifying moment with Celeste undressing for Perry via webcam and then noticing the bruises on her back.
– Episode highlight: the fight with Renata in the bar. Laura Dern is just phenomenal, and it’s insane to see these women start world war three over their children’s birthday parties.
– So who do we think choked Amabella? It seems the show is somewhat hinting that Celeste’s twins might be responsible with the torn hippo, and of course the violence at home.
– Celeste and Perry having cyber sex at the end there was a pretty naughty scene wasn’t it? This show’s going all out!
Bernard: Perry and Celeste? Honestly… I’d sleep with either.
Bernard: Feces is never terribly far from Madeline’s fan.
Ed: You know, one minute it’s Nathan or Bonnie. Now Renata, not to mention the parking monitor, the girls in the car. I can’t even keep track of all the fights you start. Somebody needs to invent an app.
Madeline: I love my grudges. I tend to them like little pets.
Ed: I was bullied. Sixth grade. And I always turned the other cheek, thinking that was the more mature thing to do. Some 30 years later, it still haunts me that I didn’t beat the shit out of that kid. So much so, I find myself fantasizing that somebody will come along one day and say or do something to me that’ll offer me the chance to redeem myself.
Principal: It seems your daughter has inherited the “let’s solve everyone else’s problems” gene.
Principal: In my graduate thesis I coined the term “helicopter parent.” But these gems, they’re… they’re fucking kamikazes.
Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka
River by Leon Bridges
Heartaches & Pain by Charles Bradley
An excellent follow-up from TV’s slickest new drama. I’m very impressed!