WHEN HBO PRODUCED SEASON 1 OF BIG LITTLE LIES, BASED ON A BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY LIANE MORIARTY, THE PLAN WAS FOR THAT ONE SEASON ONLY. (So they say – but the end of Season 1, with a police detective watching the main characters picnic on the beach – did that not portend a second season?) Fans and Hollywood types fell in love with a potent cast and unresolved story so they returned, with material that departs from where the book left off.
The women who faced off in power struggles in Season 1 are back for Season 2, this time as “the Monterey Five.” (In the trailer, the title is said suspiciously.)
There’s the addition of Meryl Streep, who reportedly jumped at the opportunity before even reading the script: “[My agents] asked me, ‘Don’t you want to read it?’ And I said no,” she toldThe Hollywood Reporter. “The first season was the greatest thing on television.”
That season brought domestic violence to the mainstream screen in an unprecedented way, timed perfectly with the Me Too movement. Season 2 again brought celebrity power to the Monterey Peninsula for 35 days of filming. It’s another chance for locals to see identifiable scenes on screen, albeit in often unrealistic configurations. Local spending associated with Season 2 totals $3.7 million, according to the Monterey County Film Commission.
The lies may be little, but the local impact is big.
Sometime early during the first season run of the HBO seriesBig Little Lies, a friend asked me if I was watching it.
I hadn’t read the Liane Moriarty book on which the series was based, but I was, of course, aware the show existed and was filmed in and around the Monterey Peninsula: You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone you knew who appeared as an extra or who wanted to appear as an extra, and social media and local television news tracked every move the stars made around town on their offtime.
But still, watch a series about the bad behavior of rich white people on the Peninsula?
Hell, I could go to a Carmel City Council meeting for that.
Then the friend said the four magic words I clearly needed to hear: Alexander Skarsgård in Armani.
(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched Season 1 but plan to, stop reading here.)
Forget for a moment that Skarsgård’s character, Perry Wright, is a monster of breathtaking proportions. Forget that the women characters played by an all-star cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern are back-biting backstabbers that only come together thanks to the beleagured character played by Shailene Woodley, with an assist by a lithesome yogini played by Zoë Kravitz, and that they all finally come together over a wee bit of murder. Forget that the other husbands in the show are mostly there for decoration. Forget, even, that Bixby Bridge is nowhere near where these characters would come and go during a routine day on the Peninsula.
The bridge is epic. The acting is fantastic. The storyline is captivating. The people are, of course, beautiful to watch.
Season 2, at least based on the trailers and clips I’ve seen, focuses on the women wallowing in guilt over what they’ve done, all the while trying to navigate the complicated stuff of life – marriage, parenting, divorce, affairs, bullying, pushing someone down a flight of stairs, etc. You know, the usual. And this season has the addition of – ZOMG – Meryl Streep, playing the aggrieved, Madea-like mom of a murdered son, doing her own investigation parallel to the police. There’s Streep in the trailer, pictured in dim light and saying in a sinister tone, “You don’t believe my son just – slipped… ”
Throw it all together in a cocktail shaker, pour it into a martini glass, top it off with a blue cheese-stuffed olive and you have a pretty decent way to spend an hour on a Sunday night. Or, as Adam Scott’s character says in Season 2: “Let the second grade begin.”