HBO’s Big Little Lies begins with a murder. Unlike most stories the mystery isn’t centered on who is the murderer, but who has been murdered. The series, based off of Liane Moriarty’s best selling novel, takes place in a small, affluent community. The show pits working moms v. stay-at-home moms, ex-husbands v. current spouses and assumptions v. reality. The book is the perfect beach read. Even though the roster for the series is stacked (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley) the series comes up short. The biggest lie from Big Little Lies is that the show is worth watching. Here are some of the little fibs that HBO’s newest series tells that turn into one big little lie.
Lie: The Cover.
The cover leads you to believe that there is a playfulness to this story. In reality, the image of a fragmented lollipop suspended in time contradicts the new-agey aesthetic that the story actually tells. The cover suggests fun and whimsy, but there is nothing vibrant and cheerful about the series. Even the children are more mature that the six year olds I know. Chloe (Reese Witherspoon’s daughter) has already made career plans and Shailene Woodley’s character’s son is named after a dead rock star’s famous song. It is all muted and mellow, the exact opposite of sugary sweets being blasted to smithereens. It goes without saying that these women would never eat a lollipop.
Lies: Everything that comes out of Reese Witherspoon’s mouth
Everything that comes out of Madeline Martha Mackenzie’s mouth tumbles out awkward and forced. As Witherspoon teeters around in her heels, her character’s words do not come across as believable. At one point Witherspoon says that someone “whooshed” by a while ago. When she said “whooshed” she meant hurried, but the damage was already done. Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the character with the worst monogram of all time, loses all credibility. Characters who are folksy and homely say “whooshed.” Characters who are not concerned with appearances and status say “whooshed.” Upper-crusty women named Madeline Martha MacKenzie don’t use the word “whooshed.” It is the most shining example of the disconnect between what MMM would say and what she actually says on the show.
The exception that proves the rule is when Mrs. Mackenzie tells one of her fellow characters that she “has no idea what she is talking about.” Ditto. Retweet. Preach.
Lie: How the teacher handles the conflict
According to the series, the murder would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the incident on the first day of school. Ziggy, Shailene Woodley’s character’s son, not Bob Marley’s kid, is accused of choking the daughter of one of the richest parents at the school. The teacher gathers up all of the parents and asks the little girl to point out the student who did this to her. The little girl points out Ziggy. Ziggy’s mom whooshes in and declares that her son would never do that to another student. The crowd gasps.
It literally could not have been handled worse. There is no way that a teacher would handle this type of incident this way. It is impossible to be committed to solving the murder mystery when the creators aren’t committed to creating a believable plot.
I really want to like this series. I love exploding treats. I love backyards that use large redwood trees as focal points in the center of patios. I love themed costume parties. A good “whodunnit” will always have space on my DVR. But, the biggest little lie is that all of these things are enough to make Big Little Lies the next drama worth watching.