Big Little Lies is one of my favorite HBO series. It is a one season show with 7 episodes. The finale was aired last Monday (2 April). This series is also based on book with the same title, authored by Liane Moriarty. By the way, this is a SPOILER-FULL post. Plot from HBO.com
I read the book right before I watched the pilot episode. I watched the trailer of the series then I thought ‘is it some kind of rich soap opera with pretty shots?’. The story looked like it was going to be ‘Desperate Housewives’-ish vibe. I watched Desperate Housewives and quite liked it for the first 3 seasons but currently I just don’t have the mood for that. Then, I saw the cast list; Reese Witherspoon (as Madeline MacKenzie), Nicole Kidman (as Celeste Wright) and Shailene Woodley (as Jane Chapman), and I was like, ‘wait, Shailene Woodley?’ then I googled about the show and decided that I’m going to watch it.
But first, I have to read the book.
I finished the books in two days. It was such an easy read and I found it very dreamy. I loved how Moriarty described the settings, the neighborhood, the school, and all the people involved. It felt like Monterey was such a beautiful place to live and it actually exist somewhere in the world (the neighborhood, I mean, Monterey(s) do exist). And the series brought them to life with its beautiful rich simplistic shots. I would want to live there and be one of the moms! I would be drinking coffee in Blue Blues, reading books and eating some muffins, listening to the sound of breaking waves while waiting for my child at kindergarten. Sigh, I can already sniff the ocean.
Anyway, back to the story. The setting of the place was in Monterey, but in the book it was Monterey, Australia (Liane Moriarty is Australian) and in the series it was Monterey, California, so the series was like the American Version of the story. There were also additional and eliminated characters in the series but the main characters are the same and it didn’t change the major plot. My favorite additional character is Joseph from the theatre, just because the actor who played it was super hot but I kind of disappointed that Saxon Banks didn’t really exist in the series (in the book Saxon Banks was actually Perry’s cousin whose identity he stole when he met Jane). And there is no Erotic Book Club. I’m kinda looking forward to that actually. Lol.
Plot-wise, this is what I feel about the series compared to the book:
- As much as like Joseph, I don’t like that Madeline was having an affair with him. It was just, after Nathan ‘abandoned’ her, cheating on Ed, her current husband, would be against everything that she believed in and the principle she held on to.
- Madeline and Abigail’s relationship is more intimate in the series. They talk more about deeper things than something superficial. They even fought which further showed how their relationship works as mother and daughter. Even Madeline opened up about her affair to Abigail rather than just complaining about Nathan and Bonnie. And Bonnie is not as central in Abigail’s life in the series.
- Renata Klein was more like a human rather than a stuck up CEO bitch. She had her own anxiety problem because despite of her achievement in her career and her acknowledged talents and capabilities she couldn’t protect her bullied daughter. That made her felt so helpless and then channeled her into this horrible bully. But they decided not to make her husband, Gordon, cheat with the nanny which I like, because it made her look less dejected.
- Perry Wright didn’t get much justice in the series. He wasn’t all bad in the book. I mean, he was obviously troubled, but deep down he’s a great father and a great husband. He loves his family so much and he felt attached to them that the thought of losing them made him insecure. The series shows tender side of him, too. But his action towards Jane wasn’t as much explained. It was as if he raped Jane just because it was his nature. In the book, he was depressed at the time he met Jane, because Celeste had another miscarriage. His action was still condemnable, though. But at least, the reason behind it made him more human.
- The reason behind Jane’s moving to Monterey is not explained. In the book, she moved to Monterey because at the night of the accident she saw Perry holding a House brochure in Monterey. So she moved there because she wanted to see if she were around the neighborhood she’d hear someone calling Saxon’s name and see if he would remember what he did to her. And also the moment when she met him at the Trivia Night, Perry didn’t seem to recognize her at all (but maybe subtly he did, but I just didn’t catch that). Well, that was fine actually. I’d do that too if I were the show runner, I’d make it as subtle as possible.
- Bonnie’s past and experience with domestic abuse wasn’t really explained. I kind of indifferent towards it, because the series made it unnecessary to reveal it. In the series Bonnie’s character is the peace and justice type of person, so… But just stop and admire Zoe Kravitz for a moment there, she was gorgeous AF!
- Ziggy! I love Ziggy. The kid who played Ziggy (Iain Armitage) is so adorable. I really like it when they were at the child psychologist, he cheerily showed a giant Harry the Hippo to her mom while her mom stressed out waiting for his result. “Look, Mom. They have giant Harry the Hippo here.” He’s super cute. And I love how they explore more of Jane and Ziggy’s relationship in the series.
- The last scene, where the five of them (Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Renata and Bonnie) with their children played in the beach after they made up. One by one they got a close up shot where each have their own closure. The closure wasn’t as clear as in the book but to me (maybe because I have read the book) I found the ending as perfect. Simple and deep.
Overall, I am satisfied with the show. As much as I like it, I don’t want second season because this one season is enough and it’s perfect. But if they want to make another storyline with the same setting, I think I wouldn’t mind. What I love most about it is the setting, anyway.