Monday, 29 January 2018

TV73: Big Little Lies

I couldn’t wait to finally watch Big Little Lies. A huge winner at the Emmy’s and the Golden Globes, four great actresses (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern), one of my all-time favourite TV writers (David E. Kelley, who also created the show); an excellent young Canadian director (Jean-Marc Vallée): how could this show be anything less than a likely candidate for my list of all-time favourite TV serials. Sigh.

Big Little Lies starts off promisingly enough, with a unique flashback structure that tells us someone (probably a major character) died horribly under very suspicious circumstances and the police are investigating. But then we begin the long tedious story about mothers worrying about whose kids are bullying whom in the second grade. Having frequently been the victim of bullies in elementary school, I am not suggesting such topics aren’t serious or worthy of attention. But mostly this is the story of wealthy stay-at-home Moms on the California coast who gossip and argue about their kids and their husbands and then argue with their husbands (at least one of whom is abusive). I know it’s supposed to be a satire of sorts, offering some kind of social commentary, but the story and setting are just too cold and empty to be compelling (give me The O.C. already). 

The actors mentioned above all do a great job, especially Kidman (though I think their talents are wasted here). The male actors were adequate, but only Alexander Skarsgård stood out. The cinematography and music are outstanding, and the direction is hard to fault. It’s just the writing. I can’t figure out what Kelley was trying to do with Big Little Lies. Whatever it was, it sure didn’t work for me (many critics obviously felt differently). I felt I had basically wasted my time on this award-winning suspense drama, which was luckily less than seven hours long. Because of its overall high quality, I’m still going to give Big Little Lies ***, but my mug fell over.

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