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The behind-the-scenes drama on Big Little Lies explains why season 2 felt so wrong.

It was the much-anticipated follow-up season to one of the most celebrated female led television dramas in recent years.

Dark yet viciously funny, beautifully shot, acted and written – all while paying the highest respect to the Liane Moriarty novel on which it is based – Big Little Lies quickly gained immense popularity when it first hit HBO in 2017.

Boasting the inclusion of Hollywood royalty Meryl Streep to the already impressive cast of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz, to say Big Little Lies fans had high expectations for season 2 would be an understatement.

But as it goes with so many hyped sophomore TV seasons, many have been left disappointed.

Watch the Big Little Lies season 2 trailer below. Post continues after.

It turns out, it was the over-hype that was the problem. At the root of it all is a director squabble behind the scenes which saw many of the original shots cut, thus explaining the disjointed nature of some episodes.

As reported by IndieWire, on-set murmurs reveal director Andrea Arnold was to be given free rein in season 2. The British filmmaker has titles such as American Honey and Fish Tank under her belt, but was reportedly muscled out of the production by executives and other men – including season one director Jean-Marc Vallée – who took over the editing process.

Arnold, IndieWire reports, did not attend the New York premiere.

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While this information has only recently come out, it finally explains just what’s wrong with season 2.

One clear source of disappointment for fans was an ice-cream shaped plot hole that in many ways perfectly sums up the behind-the-scenes turmoil of the entire underwhelming season.

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You see, after season 1 wrapped with one hell of a cliffhanger, one sentiment echoed through the Twitterverse with such force it was difficult to escape.

When is season 2 and why isn’t it now?

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, a photo appeared of Reese Witherspoon’s character Madeline hurling an ice cream at Meryl Streep, who plays Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Alexander Skarsgård’s character Perry Wright, who was murdered by the Monterey Five at the end of season 1.

It was the photo that ultimately built the hype for the second season in its entirety, telling fans it would be well worth the wait. But the scene from which it came never even aired.

According to Entertainment Tonight, the scene was shot for an episode earlier this month, but was left on the cutting room floor.

Speaking to ET back at the premiere, Meryl Streep said the scene will instead appear in DVD extras: “[Reese] just told me it’s not in the show!” Streep revealed. “It’s [going to be] in the DVD extras.”

 

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what is she thinking?

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And before this, on Good Morning America, Witherspoon herself had talked up the scene: “I think it’s one of the top moments of my entire career,” she said last year. “For real… And I hit her! Like, I nailed it! She turned around and she was like, ‘Yeah you got me.'”

But not only were viewers left grieving the lost scene on Twitter, the overall quality of the season has come under scrutiny.

Season one’s picturesque landscape pans and atmospheric undertone were replaced with scenes in cars, cafes, living rooms and offices, all pieced together with a less-than-seamless finish. Not only was it visually much flatter than season one, it felt choppy and ill-thought out.

According to a number of sources close to the production, this is due to a post-production effort to remove the style of Arnold. The shift took place in late 2018 as the show was transferred from Arnold’s creative control to Vallée’s. They say this was done in an effort to mirror the style of season one.

The same sources say this, unbeknown to Arnold when she signed up to direct the show, had always been the plan.

Showrunner David E. Kelley had hoped Vallée – having already committed to HBO thriller Sharp Objects – would become re-involved with the show after his work on the Amy Adams-led miniseries had wrapped, believing Arnold’s style would be easy to shape into Vallée’s in the editing process.

Vallée himself told IndieWire last May that he saw their directorial styles as similar.

“We have similar ways of shooting, when you look at it,” said Vallée. “She shot handheld, available light. She aims for performances, like I [did] in Season 1. She is who she is, but the spirit of the other is there.”

While the season 2 finale airs on Australian Foxtel tonight, whispers have already begun that there will, in fact, be a third.

 

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heading into the holiday weekend with the power strut of the #monterey5 #bll2

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The discussions surrounding a third season have come after Reese Witherspoon herself Tweeted about the final episode, with fans noting that she said “season finale,” as opposed to “series finale.”

We can only assume if this is the case, the creative team will opt to keep the original director Jean-Marc Vallée, instead of moving forward with Arnold.

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