"Big Little Lies is not a 'women's show'. It's men who need to watch it."

There is something I desperately want to do with HBOs TV show of the year Big Little Lies now that I have finished all seven episodes.

I want to sit down with my husband and watch it again.

Yes, Big Little Lies, set in the exclusive and privileged beachside enclave of Monterey California is domesticity on steroids. Life threatening steroids.

The central characters  – Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), and Renata (Laura Dern) wander around opulent multi-million dollar beach-front houses clutching shimmering large glasses of wine, drive 4WD Audis with lush leather interiors, wear designer clothes and heels for school pick-up and seem to always have gloriously stuffed fruit bowls in their oversized kitchens.

Kidman Davis Rush Emmy Nomination
Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies. (Source: HBO.)

Even newcomer Jane (Shailene Woodley), who is young and actually sleeps in a fold-out bed, can't dilute the entitlement of the citizens of Monterey.

Listen: Here's everything you need to know about Big Little Lies.

And that is why Big Little Lies is such powerful viewing, wealth may saturate every scene but we are captivated by, and maybe even connected to, these bird-like women at the school gate struggling with the choices they have made in life, who they turned out to be and - pitifully but honestly - what other women think of them.


Unlike the usual TV fodder: Legal dramas, daddy drug dealers with hearts of gold, medical shows, political manipulations, prison breakouts, Wall Street billionaires, medieval kings and strange things that go bump in the night, this is a series that might make my husband turn to me on the couch, say nothing, and know me a little better.

How many TV shows are out there that involve so many complex, fabulous, contrary female characters? Watching Big Little Lies must be for men what it was like for me to watch Breaking Bad or Billions. 

Despite opening with the red and blue flashing lights of police cars and cops looking all cop-like; dishevelled, disbelieving and in need of a strong coffee, Big Little Lies is not a murder mystery.

It's a forensic unpacking of modern motherhood: the guilt, the judgement, the competition, the friendships, the secrets and all those "little things" that make up their daily lives (which are never really little).

Alexander Skarsgard plays Kidman's husband in the series. (Source: HBO.)

It's also a TV show that articulates how violence, or the threat of violence, is such an ordinary everyday reality for women. Nicole Kidman's Celeste, who is living with a violent partner but has the audacity to stay with him, fight him back and have sex with him, surely must go a long way to dissolve some of the myths surrounding domestic violence (watching Celeste should be essential viewing for teen boys and teen girls). It might even dissolve some of the myths surrounding love.


For a lot of men, Big Little Lies may shed some light on why their partners can't stop going over that comment another mum made about missing assemblies (I mean you don't even know her). It may make them understand why coffees with friends can last three hours, why we judge before we mean to, and why - despite our differences, women have this amazing ability to empathise.

A scene from the final episode. (Source: HBO.)

In the penultimate scene of Big Little Lies, five very different women dressed as the one woman - Audrey Hepburn, turn to each other in a moment of shocking clarity. They finally see one truth in all their lives: their perfect friend is being abused by her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). Perry is Jane's rapist.

As Perry attacks Celeste, beating her and kicking her, these five women, three who have been fighting each other, fight him. One pushes him to his death. Then they lie to the police who need another coffee and protect each other from the consequences.

Yes, it is a TV show, it's over the top, but strangely enough there are important truths in this drama that men who watch it may see for the first time.

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