After catching the first two installments of HBO’s new seven-part limited series Big Little Lies, I must say I am hooked bigly. Based on the fake news New York Times number-one bestseller by Liane Moriarty, the show is a subversive, darkly comedic drama that tells a tale of murder and mischief while exploring our society’s myth of perfection and the contradictions beneath our idealized façade of marriage, sex, neighbors, parenting and friendship.
It is set in tranquil Monterey, California, where nothing is quite as it seems. Helicopter moms, successful husbands, adorable kids, gorgeous houses right out of a magazine, but what lies will be told to keep their perfect worlds from unraveling on Big Little Lies?
The focus is on four mothers: Madeline Martha Mackenzie, played with pitch perfect Tracy Flick-ness by Resse Witherspoon; Nicole Kidman’s cool, controlled Celeste Wright; and new-to-town single mom Jane Chapman, played by the terrific Shailene Woodley; and Laura Dern’s queen bee, Renata Klein. All of them are at their very best in this show, and although the men don’t have as much camera time, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling bring welcomed nuance and verve to their characters.
Big Little Lies paints a picture of a seaside town fueled by rumors and divided into the haves and have-nots, exposing the conflicts, secrets and betrayals.
It was refreshing to see a male couple who are dads portrayed so nonchalantly as just part of the fabric of the community. Even better, I discovered that the two actors playing Oren and Bernard are a real life married couple and actual fathers. Handsome David Monahan and Larry Sullivan have solid theatre and film credits. Sullivan has played gay before, notably as Robert, Will’s ballet dancing boyfriend, on NBC’s Will & Grace and on ABC’s Modern Family as Mitchell’s ex-boyfriend. Monahan has had recurring roles on Crossing Jordan as Detective Matt Seely and Dawson’s Creek. Plus, they were featured in an adorable 2015 Campbell’s Soup commercial with Star Wars tie-in that shows the two of them feeding their son, Cooper.
People Magazine’s annual Sexiest Men Alive issue in 2015 featured the couple as “Sexiest Pitchmen”.
“I didn’t realize it would blow up and become the big deal it has become. Neither of us have been on the ‘I’m an activist’ train, and I still don’t think we really are, because all we’re doing is just living our lives. But it just so happens that our spot is entering people’s living rooms that normally probably wouldn’t let us into their homes, and they don’t really have a choice.”
“All we’re trying to do is pay for preschool and our mortgage! But we’re happy to be that couple who put ourselves out there to just show that families come in all shapes and sizes.”
The commercial totally pissed off the Right Wing Christians and a call for a boycott by the Million Moms organization.
How great to see them play husbands in this prestige project. They are just adorable.
Big Little Lies is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and Wild (2014), and it is written for television and created by seven time Emmy Award winner David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, LA Law, and Ally McBeal).
You’ve got to check it out. I give it a straight-up A on The Rutledge Report Card.