HBO launched it's new Sunday series, Big Little Lies, on Sunday at 9 p m and it's a compelling hour of mystery, bitchiness and scenery.
If you read the book by Australia's Liane Moriarty, author of The Husband's Secret, you know that the story timeline jumps all over the map starting at present day with an alleged murder, to months earlier when the first day of kindergarten orientation throws together a group of women in a small seaside Australian town. The timeline continues to jump around as we spend the whole book trying to figure out which one of the characters has died. All this while getting to know their intricate backstories and complicated relationships. One sleeps with a gun under her pillow, one has a lot of PDA along with physical violence behind the scenes.
In HBO's version, written by David Kelley, (Michelle Pfeiffer's hubby,) the story takes place near Monterrey, California and spans 7 episodes that follow the moms of first graders at a wonderful little school that touts all the slogans of today's children: Sharing is Caring, No Bullying, Safety First, etc.
The series opens with the knowledge that someone has died at the school Trivia Night Fundraiser. All parents interviewed on camera say it all started on that first day of orientation for the first graders.
The series' producers include Liane Moriarty, the author herself, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. It is maybe because of this fact that it's been touted as a feminist series, simply because there are five female leads in the script and women are producing it. Something that is a rarity in Hollywood. But, even though it deals with the modern woman problem of juggling jobs and careers with motherhood, I would not label it as anything but a fascinating look into the lives of mothers in a small, affluent community. And an opportunity to see some spectacular Northern California seascapes in the opening credits!
Witherspoon is the likable busy body, Kidman is the quiet beautiful wife of a handsome rich man, Shailene Woodley is the young, poor, single mom who looks horribly out of place, Zoe Kravitz is the free-spirited yoga teacher married now to Reese's ex-husband and Laura Dern is the financial analyst with an au pair and is not particularly well-liked in the mommy community.
All women are brilliant actresses and play their parts with the finesse they are known for, including the young Woodley, who was last seen in Divergent and Fault in Our Stars.
The director has pieced together scenes expertly, giving us an opener that grabs us around the throat to insure we stick with the series to see who died. It's someone we are getting to know well in this series, I'm pretty sure. It's a beautiful thing to have a terrible memory for books, especially now when I can't remember the ending but I guess my memory is shot because as a mother I've had so much other shi_ to remember in the last twenty years! If you're like me, you're going to not only see yourself in these women but enjoy the reveal.
Be sure to catch Big Little Lies on HBO on Sunday at 9.