Big Little Lies (TV series)

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Big Little Lies
Opening Title Card.png
Opening title card, showing the Bixby Creek Bridge
Genre
Created byDavid E. Kelley
Based onBig Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
Written byDavid E. Kelley
Directed by
Starring
Opening theme"Cold Little Heart" by Michael Kiwanuka
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes7 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Barbara A. Hall
  • Liane Moriarty
Production location(s)Monterey, California
CinematographyYves Bélanger
Editor(s)
  • David Berman
  • Maxime Lahaie
  • Sylvain Lebel
  • Jim Vega
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time52–58 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor
Release
Original networkHBO
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseFebruary 19, 2017 (2017-02-19) – present
External links
Website

Big Little Lies is an American television drama series that premiered on HBO on February 19, 2017. Created and written by David E. Kelley, the series' seven-episode first season is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty. Each episode was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.

Big Little Lies stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley and tells the story of three emotionally troubled women in Monterey, California, who become embroiled in a murder investigation. Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Jeffrey Nordling, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz, and James Tupper feature in supporting roles. Critically acclaimed, the series garnered several accolades. It received 16 Emmy Award nominations and won eight, including Outstanding Limited Series and acting awards for Kidman, Skarsgård, and Dern. The trio also won Golden Globe Awards in addition to a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film win for the series. Kidman and Skarsgård also received Screen Actors Guild Awards for their performances.

Despite originally being billed as a miniseries, HBO renewed the series for a second season.[1] Production on the second season began in March 2018 and is set to premiere in 2019. All seven episodes are being written by Kelley and directed by Andrea Arnold.[2]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
1"Somebody's Dead"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyFebruary 19, 2017 (2017-02-19)1.13[3]
At a public school in Monterey, a murder suddenly occurs on trivia night, but neither the victim nor the murderer is revealed. Backtracking to the first day of school, the families of five first-graders are introduced. Madeline Martha Mackenzie is a strong-willed, wealthy, and feared alpha female in town with a first-grade daughter and teenage daughter from an earlier marriage. Her friend, retired lawyer Celeste Wright, is the mother of twin sons who are also beginning at that same school. New to town is Jane Chapman – a young single mother raising her son, Ziggy. Renata Klein's daughter Amabella accuses Ziggy of attempting to choke her, which he denies. Madeline and Celeste befriend Jane. Secrets are revealed, including that Madeline is struggling to cope with her ex-husband Nathan's marriage to a yoga instructor named Bonnie and also trying to build a relationship with her older daughter. Celeste appears to have a very happy life with her husband Perry, but he starts to show signs of being violent. Jane's motives for moving to Monterey are unknown.
2"Serious Mothering"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyFebruary 26, 2017 (2017-02-26)0.56[4]
Perry lashes out at Celeste when he discovers he missed orientation at the school, but Celeste lets it slide. Jane looks for work with little success. Madeline goes on the warpath with Renata when it is revealed Renata did not invite Ziggy to Amabella's birthday party. Ed questions Madeline's devotion to him when she continues to complain about seeing Nathan with Bonnie all the time. Madeline is further disturbed when Bonnie takes her oldest daughter, Abby, to Planned Parenthood. Nathan tries to come to a peaceful resolution with Ed about their parenting of Abby, but Ed senses Nathan trying to intimidate him and stands firm. Madeline's younger daughter, Chloe, and Bonnie's daughter, Skye, attempt to mend the wounds between Ziggy and Amabella but it leads to an incident of unwanted affection and the parents of the four children are called into the principal's office, leading Jane to have a flashback of an unwanted episode.
3"Living the Dream"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyMarch 5, 2017 (2017-03-05)1.04[5]
Perry chokes Celeste when he believes she deliberately left him out of a family gathering, after which Celeste threatens to leave him. Renata's party for Amabella is a huge success but she is ultimately upset when Madeline invited Amabella's closest friends and Ziggy to Disney on Ice on the same day. At therapy, Perry claims his outbursts are out of fear that Celeste does not love him, which Celeste attempts to deny. When Abby's academic performance begins to decline her guidance counselor suggests it is being caused by stress at home so Abby decides to live with Nathan, much to Madeline's dismay. Jane gets Ziggy involved with more extracurricular activities and helps him construct a family tree for school with Madeline's help. Jane lashes out at Ziggy when he insists on putting his father's name on the tree, and Jane confides to Madeline that Ziggy was the result of rape by a man named Saxon Banks, whom she has not seen since.
4"Push Comes to Shove"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyMarch 12, 2017 (2017-03-12)1.04[6]
Abigail moves in with Nathan and Bonnie. Celeste legally represents Joseph and Madeline in a meeting with the Mayor regarding the controversial Avenue Q, and successfully convinces the Mayor to allow the play to proceed. In the process, she realizes her desire to return to work. She asks her therapist how to best convince Perry but Dr. Reisman is more concerned with why Celeste is afraid to do so. At home, Perry tells Celeste not to attend any future meetings. When she refuses, he grabs her by the throat but quickly relinquishes when one of their boys enters the room. Joseph and Madeline kiss and it is revealed they had an affair a year ago. Madeline locates a man online named Saxon Baker whom she believes to be Saxon Banks. She informs Jane and Celeste, and they plan to travel to San Luis Obispo to confront him. Ms. Barnes, the teacher, suspects Amabella is still being bullied. Despite Amabella's assertions that she and Ziggy are friends, Ms. Barnes requests Jane to have Ziggy psychologically evaluated. The psychologist believes that Ziggy is innocent and that he may actually be being bullied himself.
5"Once Bitten"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyMarch 19, 2017 (2017-03-19)1.17[7]
Nathan spots Jane at the gun range and tells Madeline. Although Jane reassures Madeline that she carries a gun solely for its psychological benefits, Madeline begins to regret tracking down Saxon Baker. Renata discovers a bite mark on Amabella's arm, but Amabella refuses to disclose who bit her. Renata assumes it is Ziggy and a meeting is held between Jane and the school principal. Joseph is convinced Madeline still has feelings for him but she maintains that their affair is over. While they argue, their car crashes. Madeline is uninjured, while Joseph is hospitalized. The incident raises suspicion from Ed and Joseph's wife, Tori. Perry is angered when Celeste does not ask the twins to tidy their toys. A confrontation triggers further violence from Perry, followed by aggressive sex. Later, Dr. Reisman confronts Celeste with the belief that Celeste is being abused; Celeste eventually reveals that she has previously feared for her life and had considered leaving Perry. Dr. Reisman urges Celeste to leave him. Jane secretly travels to San Luis Obispo to confront Saxon Baker, taking her gun with her.
6"Burning Love"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyMarch 26, 2017 (2017-03-26)1.39[8]
Jane reveals to Madeline that she went to confront Saxon Baker, who turns out to be the wrong man. Madeline attempts to convince Jane to give up the search. Ms. Barnes relays to Jane that a petition has begun to have Ziggy suspended. Jane confronts Renata and mistakenly gouges her eye. Jane apologizes, realizing that they both want to protect their children. Renata forgives Jane and reveals her plan to schedule play-dates with each of Amabella's classmates to discover who is hurting her. Celeste's therapist advises her to prepare to leave Perry by renting an apartment and disclosing the abuse to friends. Later, Perry tries to initiate sex with Celeste, who defensively fractures his penis. Returning from the hospital, Perry tells Celeste she is "lucky" he did not kill her. The following day she begins looking for an apartment. At the opening night of Avenue Q, Tori confronts Madeline about having an affair with Joseph. At home, Madeline and Ed have another argument about her lack of passion toward him, which culminates in her alluding to having made a "terrible mistake". Nathan discovers that Abigail's "secret project" is auctioning her virginity to raise money for Amnesty International. Madeline furiously confronts Abigail, disclosing her affair in the process.
7"You Get What You Need"Jean-Marc ValléeDavid E. KelleyApril 2, 2017 (2017-04-02)1.86[9]
Following another beating, Celeste decides to leave Perry the day after trivia night. Ziggy confesses to Jane that it was Max who choked Amabella. Madeline talks to Joseph about his wife knowing about their affair. Jane tells Celeste that her son Max is the bully. When preparing to leave for trivia night, Perry sees a text message on Celeste's phone from the landlady of her new apartment. He confronts her on the way to the party, but is interrupted by Renata. At the party, Celeste tells Renata that Max is the bully. Meanwhile, a drunk Madeline runs away during Ed's singing performance. Jane goes after her and finds her atop stairs at the back of the venue. Madeline tells Jane that she cheated on Ed. Renata also goes after them and apologizes to Jane for having blamed Ziggy. Celeste joins the women, followed by Perry. Bonnie follows them and watches the group from afar. Jane sees Perry and realizes that he is the rapist. Perry pleads with Celeste to come back home with him and when she declines, he viciously attacks her. The group unsuccessfully fights Perry off until Bonnie rushes in and pushes him down the stairs, killing him. In police interviews, the women confirm that there was a fight with Perry but claim he fell accidentally. Despite Detective Quinlan's skepticism, the police accept their version. Later, the five women and their children lounge at the beach, where Detective Quinlan continues to watch them.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On August 6, 2014, it was announced Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon had optioned the screen rights to Liane Moriarty's novel Big Little Lies. The actresses were expected to develop the project as a film in which they would both star. Bruna Papandrea and Per Saari were set to executive produce alongside Kidman and Witherspoon. Moriarty was also expected to produce as well.[10] On November 25, 2014, it was announced that Kidman and Witherspoon had decided to develop the project into a limited television series instead of the originally planned film. Additionally, it was announced that television series would be written by David E. Kelley.[11] On May 8, 2015, it was announced that HBO had given the production a series order and that in addition to writing, Kelley would also executive produce.[12] On October 23, 2015, it was reported that Jean-Marc Vallée was in talks to direct the first episode of the series with the potential to direct more.[13] On December 17, 2015, it was announced that Vallée would direct all seven episodes of the series.[14] On November 28, 2016, it was announced that the series would premiere on February 19, 2017.[15]

Casting[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Alongside the initial announcement of the production's development, it was reported that Kidman and Witherspoon would also star in the adaptation as well.[11][12] In December 2015, it announced that Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz had joined the cast in lead roles.[16][17][18][19] On January 5, 2016, it was announced that Alexander Skarsgard and James Tupper had joined the main cast and that Jeffrey Nordling, Santiago Cabrera, P. J. Byrne, Kelen Coleman, Sarah Burns, Darby Camp, Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti, Ivy George, Chloe Coleman, Virginia Kull, Sarah Baker, Kathreen Khavari, Larry Bates, Hong Chau, and Gia Carides had joined the show's supporting cast.[20] A few days later, it was reported that Iain Armitage had joined the cast in the role of Woodley's character's son.[21] Soon after that, it was reported that Merrin Dungey, Larry Sullivan, and David Monahan had also joined the cast.[22]

Season 2[edit]

On January 24, 2018, it was announced that Meryl Streep had joined the main cast in the role of Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgard in Season 1).[23] In February 2018, it was confirmed that Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, Adam Scott, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling and Iain Armitage were returning for the second season.[24][25][26] On March 27, 2018, it was announced that Douglas Smith had joined the cast in a recurring role.[27][28] On April 3, 2018, it was confirmed that Kathryn Newton, Robin Weigert, Merrin Dungey, and Sarah Sokolovic were returning for the second season. Newton and Sokolovic have been upped from recurring roles to series regulars. Additionally, it was announced that Crystal Fox had joined the cast in a main role and that Mo McRae would appear in a recurring capacity.[29] On April 10, 2018, it was announced that Martin Donovan had been cast in a recurring role.[30] In May 2018, it was reported that Poorna Jagannathan had joined the cast in a recurring capacity. Additionally, it was confirmed that P.J. Byrne would reprise his role of Principal Nippal.[31][32] On June 15, 2018, it was announced that Denis O'Hare had been cast in a recurring role.[33]

Filming[edit]

The series was shot with an Arri Alexa digital camera. Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed the entirety of the first season, preferred using natural lighting and handheld shooting style to allow actors to move freely around the set.[34]

Much of the series was filmed on location on the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur. Several scenes were shot in Pacific Grove and Carmel Highlands as well.[35]

Release[edit]

Marketing[edit]

On October 16, 2016, HBO released the first teaser trailer for the series.[36] On December 5, 2016, HBO released a full length trailer for the series.[37]

Premiere[edit]

On February 7, 2017, the series held its official premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California.[38][39]

Distribution[edit]

Internationally, the series premiered on February 20, 2017, in Australia on Showcase,[40] and on March 13, 2017, in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Sky Atlantic.[41]

Renewal[edit]

The show was initially conceived of and billed as a miniseries of seven episodes. In the wake of the Emmy nominations, Reese Witherspoon said: "As of right now, I think it's pretty whole. I feel really good about where it is, and if this is all it ever was, it's a beautiful thing we all accomplished together",[34] while Vallée came out strongly against the idea of producing a second season: "There's no reason to make a season two. That was meant to be a one-time deal, and it's finishing in a way where it's for the audience to imagine what can happen. If we do a season two, we'll break that beautiful thing and spoil it".[42] Later, when the show garnered an array of critical accolades, he changed his mind: "It'd be great to reunite the team and to do it. Are we going to be able to do it, altogether? I wish."[43]

In July 2017, two weeks after the series was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series, HBO revealed that a second season was possible, and that Moriarty had been asked to write a story for it.[44] In December 2017, after the Critics' Choice Television Award and Golden Globe Award nomination voting periods were over,[45] HBO officially renewed the series for a seven-episode second season to be written by David E. Kelley and directed by Andrea Arnold.[46] Vallée will remain an executive producer of the series.[47] Meryl Streep will join the cast as the mother of Alexander Skarsgård's character.[48]

The announcement of the second season, and—specifically—its timing, enraged the producers of rival shows that are competing for award nomination in the limited series category.[49] Immediately following HBO's decision to produce a second installment of Big Little Lies, the Producers Guild of America moved to reclassify the original installment of the show from a limited series to a drama series for the upcoming 2018 PGA Awards.[50]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Big Little Lies was met with a positive response from critics. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8.04 out of 10 based on 102 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bitingly funny and highly addictive, Big Little Lies is a twisty, thrilling, enlightening ride led by a first-rate cast."[51] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the series a score of 75 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[52]

Time magazine listed Big Little Lies as one of its top ten television shows of 2017.[53]

Ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "Somebody's Dead" February 19, 2017 0.3 1.13[3] 0.3 N/A 0.6[54] N/A
2 "Serious Mothering" February 26, 2017 0.2 0.56[4] 0.3 0.84 0.5 1.39[55]
3 "Living the Dream" March 5, 2017 0.4 1.04[5] N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 "Push Comes to Shove" March 12, 2017 0.4 1.04[6] N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 "Once Bitten" March 19, 2017 0.4 1.17[7] N/A N/A N/A N/A
6 "Burning Love" March 26, 2017 0.5 1.39[8] 0.3 N/A 0.8[56] N/A
7 "You Get What You Need" April 2, 2017 0.7 1.86[9] 0.3 0.93 1.0 2.79[57]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2017 American Film Institute Awards Top 10 TV Programs of the Year Big Little Lies Won [58]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nicole Kidman Won [59]
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Best Miniseries or Television Film Big Little Lies Won
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Alexander Skarsgård Won
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Laura Dern Won
Shailene Woodley Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special Jean-Marc Vallée Won [60]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Nicole Kidman Won
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Outstanding Limited Series Big Little Lies Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Alexander Skarsgård Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Laura Dern Won
Shailene Woodley Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special David E. Kelley Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special David Rubin Won [60]
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie Yves Bélanger Nominated
Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for a Series, Limited Series or Movie Alix Friedberg, Risa Garcia and Patricia McLaughlin Won
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie Michelle Ceglia, Nickole C. Jones, Lona Vigi, Frances Mathias and Jocelyn Mulhern Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Steve Artmont, Nicole Artmont, Angela Levin, Molly R Stern and Claudia Humburg Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision Susan Jacobs Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie Veronique Barbe, David Berman, Justin LaChance, Maxime Lahaie, Sylvain Lebel and Jim Vega Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie Gavin Fernandes, Louis Gignac and Brendan Beebe Nominated
TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Drama Nicole Kidman Nominated [61]
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Big Little Lies Won
Program of the Year Big Little Lies Nominated
2018 ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television David Berman Nominated [62]
Art Directors Guild Awards Television Movie or Limited Series John Paino (for "Somebody's Dead", "Living the Dream", "You Get What You Need") Nominated [63]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Television Movie or Mini-Series Brendan Beebe, Gavin Fernandes, Louis Gignac (for "You Get What You Need") Nominated [64]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Television Series Alix Friedberg Nominated [65]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series Nicole Kidman Won [66]
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Best Limited Series Big Little Lies Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series Alexander Skarsgård Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series Laura Dern Won
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Contemporary Television Greg Alpert Nominated [67]
Producers Guild of America Awards Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama Big Little Lies Nominated [68]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Alexander Skarsgård Won [69]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Laura Dern Nominated
Nicole Kidman Won
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Adapted David E. Kelley Won [70]
USC Scripter Awards Best Adapted TV Screenplay David E. Kelley and Liane Moriarty
(for "You Get What You Need")
Nominated [71]

Media[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

A soundtrack for the series was released on Google Play and iTunes on March 31, 2017.[72]

Blu-ray and DVD[edit]

The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 1, 2017.[73]

References[edit]

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