Big Little Lies: TV-series Review

Spring is coming nearer with each day and that means: new TV-shows to watch! On the watch-list today: Big Little Lies.

Background Info on Big Little Lies

Based on the novel written by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies tells the story of three women who have to deal with different stages of their motherhood, private and public life. Madeline is divorced (and married for the second time with another man) with two daughters, being best described as the “gossiper” as she is the first to know anything about everything. Celeste is a beautiful mother of twins living the (apparently) perfect life married to the (apparently) perfect man. And then, there’s the “newbie” in the new-rich, hip neighborhood: Jane. She is a very young, single mother of a quiet son and very mysterious concerning her background.

Big Little Lies: Review

These basic characteristics are all implemented in the new drama starring an impressive cast: Witherspoon, Kidman and Woodley – what a crowd! As if the characters had been written for them, they amazingly portray the women presented above. But also other great actors and actresses like Laura Dern are part of the HBO show. However, in her particular case it is not quite clear what role she will play in the series, as her character does not receive so much attention in the novel. And is she really fitting for the role of a career-woman? You might remember her in The Fault in Our Stars as –coincidentally – Shailene Woodley’s stay-at-home mom. Otherwise, there is nothing negative to say about the cast: Even the children were perfectly chosen for their respective parts.

Buuut…there comes the downside to it: Apart from the characters, the story and particularly the chronology of events is very true to the book. On the one hand, that honors the author and does not deceive her fans who want to see the novel come to life exactly in the way it was written; on the other hand, the dialogue and the events of the plot do not always seem so logical in the series as in the novel: While in a book, it is easy to make time jumps, to alter different perspectives and narrative voices, the viewer might not be able to follow that line so easily as the reader.

Obviously, it is a HBO show, so it needs to set itself apart from the mass of TV-series and especially drama shows out there. The film technique is therefore a little bit “too much” with very long scenes and particular angles – though the last characteristic sometimes brings the “creepy touch” into it, as the shot angle is often one of  a “watcher” (as if the camera was a person observing in secret the characters). The opening sequence may appear very dramatic, but the way it was shot with changing perspectives underlined by the differences in sound and vision (for example breathing, blurriness etc.) was actually very interesting and authentic.

Duckling’s Series Tip on Big Little Lies

So in general, my advice for you little ducklings is: That’s a show worth your time. Even though they could have shorten some scenes and could have brought out more Jane’s character for instance, you should go and watch it – at least because of the utterly amazing cast.

PS: The Pilot appeared to focus more on Madeleine’s point of view – but don’t forget that Moriarty’s novel features different perspectives which could be adapted by a variation of character emphasis in each episode. Let’s see how it turns out!

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Also: Check out my recent review on Nashville Season 5