Big Little Lies was marketed as an eight episode miniseries. It tells the story of five women brought together after a horrible incident. Along with being an intriguing mystery, the emotional season is filled with great acting. It receives much critical acclaim and a number of awards. When the season was over, the mystery was solved, new bonds have been formed, and people were ready to move on with their lives. There was nothing left to be said. Then season two was announced.
The announcement of another season of BLL was shocking. It was not a new thing for shows initially intended for a short run to get a longer one. What made it so odd in this case is how unnecessary it felt. There were no loose ends to be tied. The first season did not end on a cliffhanger nor was it ambiguous. In fact, it was one of the most satisfying endings in recent years.
The second season has exposed the show’s poor writing. The first season was an almost anti David Lynch hour of television. Instead of examining the seedy underbelly of suburban America, the drama demonstrated how even the rich and powerful faced unspeakable trauma. Viewers were able to relate to characters they have nothing in common with.The second season has shown how petty and awful the women are. Renata is a materialistic and selfish woman. Madeline must always be in control and can wave cheating all away by simply stating she was bored.
In the first season, both women were examples of strength and empowerment. Sure, Madaline would sometimes overstep from controlling the situation to assuming power and Renata definitely had a cutthroat mentality to her. But even then it was impossible not to cheer for Renada as she fought for her daughter’s safety or appluad Madeline’s attempts to hold her family together.
The second season lacks that charm. Part of the fun of watching a television show is the escapism it provides. BLL shows a fabulous life of big homes, fancy cars, awesome jobs, and characters who always get what they want. The second season amplifies the gulf between the Monterey Five and the viewer. This is no longer a story of women who happened to live an ultra fabulous life but must still struggle. It is a story of petulant rich white women trying to overcome ridiculous circumstances.
BLL had painted itself into a corner. After the first season was nicely wrapped up, what more could the show do? The obvious answer is to deal with the aftermath. The storyline involving Celeste and her mother-in-law, Mary Louise has been riveting. The ongoing theme of how a violent home affects everybody has been very interesting. There just has not been anything else. The rest has has been a series of soap opera like moments. The season has touched on premonitions, surprise witnesses in child custody cases, and a string of shocking revelations. Meanwhile, Bonnie is barely more than an afterthought.
The biggest question surrounding season two is why have the women not claimed self defense? It is an open and shut case. There were witnesses, Celeste probably has bruises from Perry’s most recent assault, and they have money and influence. The women have already proven they have no problems calling people out for when they see something wrong. (Look at their constant clashes with the school.) By choosing to lie and not stand up for the truth, the season is forsaking the show’s theme of female empowerment.
The story has been at its best when focusing on the aftermath of Perry’s death. The emotional toll it has taken on Celeste, Bonnie, and Mary Louise has been very engaging. These moments could have still happened if it was a case of self-defense. It’s when BLL starts to delve into the investigation that the show begins to go off the rails.
The second season of Big Little Lies is one of the strangest in television history. The acting is unparalleled while the storyline involving Celeste and Mary Louise has been some of the best stuff on TV. Regrettably, the writing is downright awful at times. Supposedly strong characters are not just flawed, they are completely broken. There is a huge plot hole and the show is prone to be over dramatic to make up for a lack of story. It has its moments, but the second season of BLL is one of the most meaningless ever.