Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Big Little Lies


*Major Spoilers Ahead*

I honestly didn't think I'd ever watch HBO's Big Little Lies. In addition to knowing the show contained graphic nudity and graphic sexual violence (two things I generally steer clear from in media) the show didn't particularly interest me from the promos. It looked like a catty, subversive murder/mystery that was about rich, suburban moms behaving badly. However, it seemed to be getting rave reviews.

Through VidAngel and their streaming service (a site that lets you edit nudity/sex/violence/language out of films and tv shows) I decided to give it a try, but still mainly expecting the show to be a guilty pleasure. I watched it in quick succession and then made my husband watch it with me just so I could watch it again. I loved it. It was interesting, well made, and so thought provoking. But I also couldn't put my finger on what exactly I loved right away, so I watched the end again and again until I could really figure out what it was that I loved about this show so much. I've basically been obsessed and I've been wanting to talk about it with everyone, so I thought I'd talk about it here! Again, MAJOR SPOILERS so if you haven't watched it, please go watch it! Get a free week trial of HBO through Amazon like I did, the sign up for VidAngel (or not) and get a  free 30 day trial with them and binge watch away! It's only 7 episode. Basically you have no excuses.

Now the juicy stuff.


So to be honest, I liked the first 6 episodes, I found them to be well made and intriguing, but it wasn't until the 7th episode--the ending where it all came together--that I really loved it. And while in hindsight a lot of the ending should have been more obvious (and apparently there were a lot of viewers who figured out many of the connections) I was totally surprised by every single revelation at the end: 1. That Jane was raped by Perry (Celeste's husband) and is the father of her son Ziggy, 2. That Ziggy is not the class bully, but of course one of Celeste's sons Max is, 3. That Perry is the one who is killed and 4. Bonnie is the one who pushes Perry to his death.

As I said, I loved it. I was sorta surprised at how much I loved it. And then I wondered, why did I love it so much? Here are my why's:

Women having each others backs
Yes the show starts (and for a while) continues as I thought it would--with a lot of cattiness between a bunch of wealthy suburban moms. Of course I know this happens in real life and I have certainly felt the sting of women tearing each other down before, BUT those times have been few and far between as I have overwhelmingly felt loved, lifted, and cared for by my women friends throughout my life. Which makes me think that we talk about this cattiness more than it actually happens, and sometimes I think that leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which is why I appreciate that Big Little Lies allows these women to evolve past the initial stereotypes we have of each woman. These women are multifaceted and we get to see many sides to these woman, as they see different sides to each other. Like many of us, their initial interactions give way to grace, understanding and ultimately forgiveness. And in the end, when push comes to shove (literally), they have each others backs. In my experience, this is a much more accurate portrayal of the women in my life.

Bonded by abuse
This show feels so very now. As we are living in this current 3rd wave of Feminism, and women all over the world are speaking up about abuse and violence, it is often other women who rush to their side in support and solidarity because we know. Is there a woman in the world who hasn't in some way been affected by violence, domestic or otherwise? Is there a woman in the world who hasn't been catcalled, harassed, touched without consent, demeaned, sexually violated or abused? (Remember this story from earlier this year?) Even if you've never been a victim of domestic violence, rape or assault--as I believe it was clear many of the women portrayed in the show didn't experience that directly--we know the fear of being weaker, in positions of vulnerability and just like Madeline, Renata, Jane and Bonnie when we see it happening we're starting to stand up together and say hell no. From what I understand the book makes it clear that Bonnie had an abusive father and therefore it makes a little more sense that she is the one who comes running to the rescue in the end. But even without that tid bit in the movie, Bonnie's peace, love and happiness life motto still makes perfect sense that she would be the one to run to the aid of others in an act of selfless valor. It could not feel more relevant in our day and age to see a group of women band together to fight against a greater evil, a common threat, even when their relationships with each other have been fraught with tension,  misunderstanding and dislike. Chills, guys. Chills! 

We're All Connected
Like I said, I watched the ending of this show at least 4 times. I was a little perplexed--like the female detective I too asked--why lie? Why did they lie about how Perry died? Was this in fact the "big little lie" the entire show referred to? (Perhaps the book sheds more light on this.) But as I started to think about it, there were a lot of "big little lies." Primarily the facades both Madeline and Celeste put up as a show of perfection in their otherwise imperfect lives. Their big, beautiful ocean side homes, their beautiful clothes and children covered up invisible pain and heartache.

But the biggest little lie in my opinion, was the one that Celeste told herself time and time again--that only she and she alone was being hurt and negatively affected by her husband's abuse. Time and time again she told herself (and her therapist) that her twin sons didn't know anything about the abuse she endured at the hands of their father, in the walls of their own home. She didn't confide in any friends. No one knew. And if no one knew, no one else was being affected right? Oh, so wrong. And this is where the show (and presumably the book) is genius in my opinion. The entire basis of the show starts with a little girl who is strangled at school by a little boy. And because she is afraid she lies about which little boy. There are false accusations, hurled insults, exclusion, judgment, verbal and even physical attacks. All of this stems from the "dirty little secret" that Perry's abuses his wife. Individuals and families far outside the reach of Perry's fists were being affected in numerous ways.

We know that we're all connected, that our actions have a ripple effect on the world around us. I just don't think I have ever seen it presented so well on screen. It is especially difficult to capture that ripple effect when it comes to actions that no one else knows about and that no one else sees. But actions, thoughts and feelings always, always spread out through us and out into the world in powerful ways. Of course the consequences can be both positive and negative, but the point is there are always consequences. And to tell ourselves otherwise, is a lie.

Please....I'd love to hear your thoughts on this show and for the love, I hope you didn't read to the end unless you've already watched the show or read the book! Were you surprised by any of the revelations at the end? Did you feel as powerfully and unexpectedly moved as I did? Any other major revelations come to mind when watching this show? Apparently Big Little Lies 2 is already in the works and I'm excited to see what they come up with. DISH! 

5 comments:

  1. This TV show is cool! I really liked it. It is a little bit as "Desperate Housewives". It helped me to get academic help related to the social topic.

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  2. The aspect of the show that I found most rewarding is that when experiences such as abuse, feelings of inadequacy, hyper vigilance about our children, happen to us.....it doesn't matter our economic standing...it affects the person the same way. Money is not a "fix ".
    I was a young mother 25 years ago experiencing the same abuse from my husband...when I saw how it started affecting my son I got out. I was in denial...it took five years. I did it though and he is now a happy 26 year old. I was poor then so I related to two characters at the same time.
    Fast forward to now. I put myself through law school have two daughters, am an "older" mom and recently divorced due to my husbands infidlity. So I relate to the other two characters. I know a helicopter mom just like Laura Dern's character. Reese Witherspoon's character is so relatable to me cause her ok marriage was just like mine.
    It is fabulous to look inward while watching others. I agree! I loved it.
    Side note/ You are an awesome mom and the type of person I would love in my circle of friends. I am thankful for the internet and the ability to learn from you.

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    1. Yes. Such a great point--money doesn't "fix it" and when it comes down to it, experiences bind us much more than our economic standing in life. Or at least, it levels the playing field in a way. And thank you for sharing some of your personal story. Wow. I am so glad you were able to get out of your first marriage and sorry to hear about the infidelity in your second. You seem like an amazingly strong, capable woman and your compliment about being in your circle of friends made me smile ear to ear. Seriously--thank you! I bet you have an amazing circle of friends!

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  3. I absolutely love your recommendations ... I got hooked on Gilmore Girls because of you (somehow had missed the hype when it first aired), and now i watched Big Little Lies in two days and really love it because of the depiction of the women.
    I thought that the first three revelations ("1. That Jane was raped by Perry and is the father of her son Ziggy, 2. That Ziggy is not the class bully, but of course one of Celeste's sons Max is, 3. That Perry is the one who is killed") were hinted pretty clearly very early on in the series - but of course mostly in the hard to watch scenes between Celeste and Perry. So maybe it's because you saw the edited version that you didn't guess it? But still, I was totally surprised by number 4. ("Bonnie is the one who pushes Perry to his death") - I was so counting on it being Madeline!!!

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    1. This makes me ridiculously happy. First, if I can bring anyone into the GG fold, well I've done my job. So lgoad you like it. And two so glad you also liked BLL. And yes, I too thought that I probably missed out on some stuff having watched a more edited version and can see in hindsight that it was probably rather obvious--in fact I was even like, "Oh duh...why didn't I put that together?" However, for some reason I had assumed that Jane had met Perry at one point or another. But yes Bonnie coming to the rescue was sorta of my favorite.

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