An adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book of the same name, it stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley as seemingly perfect suburban mums who become embroiled in a murder.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Tiffany Dunk explain why Big Little Lies is unlike anything we have seen before on The Binge.
But while it’s dominated watercooler talk, the critics aren’t so impressed.
1.It’s too full of cliches.
According to Mike Hale of the New York Times, it’s too unoriginal.
“The real problem with “Big Little Lies” is that the women’s stories, however well acted and artfully photographed, are just a compendium of clichés about upper-middle-class angst,” he wrote in his review.
While the everyday concerns of the primary characters may at first seem ‘trivial’, given that we see most of the characters in relation to their young children, this should almost be expected.
Plus, not only is it purposeful to juxtapose the darker truth that underlies them, it’s also extremely accurate. That relatability is largely what made the book – and the film – resonate with so many.
Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson summed it up perfectly when he wrote, “Though it covers some awfully well-worn subject matter, Big Little Lies is, in its curious way, like nothing I’ve seen before.”
2. It’s not entertaining.
“It could have learned a few lessons from that long-running ABC potboiler in how to tell a story and keep an audience entertained”, Hale continued in his New York Times review.
“It [the drama] doesn’t come from the mystery, which, through six of the season’s seven episodes, hangs offscreen like a dead fish.”
Noticing a theme here of the types of people who don't quite 'get' Big Little Lies. I wonder how much of its relatability is for females, who likely know the schoolyard politics far too well.
Having read the book, I found the build up rather enthralling but could see how without knowing the bombshells and twists to come (that by all accounts will explode in the seventh and final episode that no critic has yet seen) it might come across as a little slow. All I can say is it's well worth persevering.
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3. It's lost its Australian charm.
At first I agreed with this. In the mini series, the Aussie setting is swapped for the wealthy world of Monterey, California.
"That was a big, conscious choice. I think we all agreed that [Monterey] brought more of the sense of a small community where everybody talks about each other,' Witherspoon revealed in an interview with Variety of the move.
Somehow it doesn't matter. The themes of domestic violence, family struggles, alcoholism and schoolyard politics transcend geographical location - they are (fortunately/unfortunately) universal.
4. It's a television version of a "beach read".
"Visually, at least, “Big Little Lies” is the perfect television beach read," finishes Hales.
Well, yes if you mean an engrossing and very readable book. But it taps into the dismissal that Moriarty herself addressed in her No Filter interview that she's simply a "chick lit" writer, rather than a highly successful multi-bestselling author and screenwriter.
Listen: Mia Freedman interviews Liane Moriarty for her No Filter podcast. (Post continues after audio.)
Big Little Lies delves into some dark and topical subject matters such as domestic violence in a slow, subtle way that makes your hairs stand on end. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a groundbreaking series in more ways than one, including its female dominated cast (and crew) in complex, nuanced roles which is still, annoyingly, so rare.
To deride it as a beach read is just insulting.