Monterey, California, present day. Jane – a young mom – and her son Ziggy arrive in town and accidentally set in motion a chain of events that will affect the lives of three other women and their families, culminating in a brutal murder. Produced by HBO, Big Little Lies is an adaptation from the book of Liane Moriarty and showcases the talents of movie stars like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, and Laura Dern.
Half drama half crime story (a mix of genres later seen in other shows like Sharp Objects and Unbelievable), it develops into an intertwined web of friendship, family, and marriage dynamics that feel sincere thanks to its complex female characters.
Form and substance connection
The showrunner David E.Kelley (Ally McBeal), no stranger to female-centered stories, shows once again particular attention, in terms of visual narration and dialogue, to the connection between form and substance. He explores what it means to be a woman in nowadays society and how others expect you to act in being a woman. If in Ally McBeal this discrepancy was told through the legal environment (job-related), in Big Little Lies it is the role of the mother within the family to take the spotlight (home-related).
It’s because of this powerful storytelling – together with the anticipation on the screen of a movement like #MeToo, which has become viral and vital for female victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault – that the first season won Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Golden Globes. HBO renewed it for a second round despite the book adaptation being complete. The lies these women tell each other reflect, like a broken mirror, the threats and fears they have to face, making us wonder if covering up the truth isn’t just another lesson women have learned in order to cope with pain.