Jean-Marc Vallee has a very stylish way of directing. Coming off of directing movies like Wild and Dallas Buyers Club and last years underrated Demolition, he has taken his first shot at television. HBO’s newest limited series Big Little Lies is here and Vallee has brought his distinct style to this show. He is paired with show creator David E. Kelley who is no stranger to television. Kelley was behind shows such as L.A. Law and Boston Legal.
In it’s premiere, Big Little Lies offers some mysterious circumstances surrounding its main characters. Filled with an incredible cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgard and Zoe Kravitz. Focusing on the lives of a group of women in coastal California, the show explores their relationships with one another. Jane (Woodley) is new to the area with her son Ziggy. She bumps into Madeline (Witherspoon) who also is raising children.
As the episode progresses, we slowly start to learn about each character. School age children bond the women together. Celeste (Kidman) is among the group of women and has, what appears to be an ideal life with her husband Perry (Skarsgard). There is a very obvious theme of vanity in the shows atmosphere. Yet, the characters embrace the vanity, mostly due to the fact their lives are glamorous. Witherspoon in particular seems to be perfectly cast in this role as the overbearing, gossip spreading albeit stereo typical rich California mother.
The show is about parental relationships, family drama and insecurities. However, there is something else that unexpectedly pops up in the shows premiere. Big Little Lies is tackling elementary school related drama. It tackles the idea of working moms versus stay at homes. The drama is sure to be rich, and the tension is already palpable with this group of moms.
Jane’s son Ziggy is accused of hurting Renata’s daughter. It is dealt with very poorly by a teacher who is put right on the spot with every mom watching her moves. Renata wants answers, and Jane clings to her sons innocence. Renata mentions that she has taken a job on the board of PayPal and there certainly seems to be some resentment from the other moms. This almost seems like a way for Madeline to take out some underlying hatred for Renata.
As all of that is going on, the show is framed around a murder following a fundraising event for the school. The layers this show build in its first episode and what could be its most engaging one, for now, is overshadowed by the lurid drama in its characters relationships.
Nothing is clear yet, but like most pilots, Big Little Lies has set up something wholly interesting and ripe for drama. With assured directing and a brilliant cast, we are set up for what figures to be a intriguing look into the lavish, dangerous and mysterious lives of a elementary school moms.