Ready for more lies?
David E. Kelley’s Emmy-winning “Big Little Lies” is back for a second season on HBO Sunday (9 EDT/PDT), promising more addictive drama to obsess over this summer.
Many fans were skeptical about continuing the show, which was conceived as a miniseries based on Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel and follows five moms – Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern) and Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) – in Monterey, California. The first season neatly wrapped as the newly dubbed “Monterey 5” came together after accidentally killing Celeste’s husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard).
But even as the show moves past its source material, the first three new episodes that we’ve seen are as deliciously fun and emotional as you’d hope, and (mostly) justify Season 2’s existence.
Here’s what you can expect from the new season. (Caution: Light spoilers ahead.)
Perry's mom Mary Louise (Meryl Streep, right) shakes things up for Celeste (Nicole Kidman) when she moves in and demands answers. (Photo: Jennifer Clasen/HBO)
Meryl Streep has a big little role
When it was announced that Streep would join the cast for Season 2, we wondered whether the three-time Oscar winner would have a substantial role or just a glorified cameo. The answer, thankfully, is the former, as her contemptuous Mary Louise anchors much of the new episodes’ drama.
Overcome with grief, Mary Louise moves in with daughter-in-law Celeste to help care for her grandchildren, but repeatedly calls into question the circumstances surrounding Perry’s death. She soon forges an uneasy relationship with Jane, whose son is technically also her grandkid, and hilariously spars with Madeline, delivering some of the season’s most caustic, withering insults.
Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) is shaken by Perry's murder when the story picks up months after Season 1. (Photo: Jennifer Clasen/HBO)
Perry’s murder unites – and divides – the Monterey 5
Although the investigation of Perry’s death is legally closed, parents and teachers remain leery of the Monterey 5 as the new school year begins in Season 2. While most of the moms bond over their grim secret, Bonnie withdraws from the rest of the group. Haunted by the fact that she was the one who pushed Perry to his death, she emotionally shuts down and stops speaking to her husband (James Tupper), who calls in her judgmental mom (Crystal Fox) to try and figure out what’s wrong.
Celeste (Nicole Kidman) struggles to parent her two young sons after her husband's death. (Photo: Jennifer Clasen/HBO)
Celeste’s therapy sessions are (still) a highlight
Kidman deservedly won Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her shattering performance in Season 1, as Celeste slowly realizes that her often-violent marriage to Perry is not only unhealthy but abusive, while still harboring complicated feelings of love for him. Celeste came to terms with their relationship, and eventually learned to stand up for herself through a series of riveting sessions with her therapist (Robin Weigert), who plays a big part in helping Celeste unpack her grief this go-round.
Madeline and Jane get even juicier stories
The first season ended with some major revelations: Moments before his death, Jane recognized Perry as her rapist (and thus, father to her young son, Ziggy, played by Iain Armitage). And Madeline tearfully confessed to her rebellious teenage daughter, Abigail (Kathryn Newton), that she cheated on her husband Ed (Adam Scott), who was still in the dark about her infidelity. Season 2 blessedly wastes no time furthering both storylines, as Madeline is forced to deal with the ramifications of her decisions and Jane cautiously starts a new relationship with a quirky colleague.
Problems continue for Amabella (Ivy George, left) and mom Renata (Laura Dern). (Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO)
Amabella just can’t catch a break
No offense to the Monterey 5, but no character has suffered more than Amabella (Ivy George), Renata’s unfortunately named daughter. Not only did little Amabella have a woefully under-attended birthday party due to Renata’s feud with Madeline, but she also was secretly bullied all season long by Celeste’s son, Max (Nicholas Crovetti). Misery still follows the quiet girl in new episodes, when her family is thrown into financial ruin and she has a full-blown anxiety attack about – what else? – climate change.
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