Big Little Lies S01E02 review: The sexy, violent juggling act

This week on Big Little Lies saw an unhealthy amount of toxic sexuality and very little plot. But its real issue stems from the way it balances its various characters and storylines.

The second episode of the HBO mini-series dove deeper into the relationship between sexuality and violence, and not even the children were immune.

Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard (has anyone said their characters’ names even) are still on some whack shit, and Madeline (whose name I do know) has a difficult time enjoying the unpassionate relationship she’s in now.

Even Madeline’s daughter — who has clearly picked up on this toxic town’s misgivings with happy, healthy relationships — plays puppet master in what is later reported as sexual harassment. Between kids.

Violence, anger and toxic love are the order of the day in Monterey, and absolutely no one is happy. But the twisted fun one usually gets from themes like these is never given time to really get going.

At first I struggled to understand why the show wasn’t gelling with me. I love the characters, I love the themes, I love the performances.

But where Big Little Lies is losing me is in the size of its cast. I don’t care about Renata, I don’t care about the interviewees. The show is taking on too much. If we’d been presented with a story that focused on the three leads only — so we could properly engage with them instead of being pulled from one important issue to the next — the show would have far more emotional impact.

But now Nicole Kidman’s incredibly complex and interesting relationship isn’t being given half the attention it should. Jane hasn’t been fleshed out nearly enough — and I’m not saying we need to know her backstory right away, but I feel nothing for her at this point.

What Big Little Lies does really well is focus on character development over plot, but they don’t give us enough individual time to care. They are trying really hard to weave the complex social web that leads to murder, but is the audience going to feel the impact if they keep going on this way?

Also, Alexander Skarsgard is getting less hot by the minute.


  • Demon twins are one hundred percent the ones who hurt Amabella. That’s pretty much canon already, right? Maybe they did the murder?
  • Nah, I’m also still set on Nicole Kidman being the murderer this week. I would also warrant a guess at the ocean. It’s basically a character now, and it’s definitely ominous.
  • Avenue Q is going to come to fruition. I know this because this show loves to see terrible things happen to its cast, and a child’s performance of Avenue Q would be terrible.
  • I would marry Zoe Kravitz in an instant if she asked.

Staring into the ocean tally: 14



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