(Caution: Spoilers Within)
I finally got around to watching Big Little Lies, the much talked about HBO series. I didn’t go into the series with any expectations, nor had I read the book. I had no dispositions other than it was a popular show getting critical acclaim.
Ultimately, what seemed like a murder mystery set in a wealthy, picturesque Monterrey, California ended up being a tale about the modern societal themes of feminism and disdain for patriarchy. The murder mystery only served to provide catharsis for the commentary on female victimization that spanned the mini-series.
I don’t say that in a snide or dismissive way; virtually every major female character was cast out as a victim of some sort. The most obvious victim is Celeste (Nicole Kidman) who is the victim of regular physical assault at the hand of her husband Perry (Alexsander Sarsgard), who promises that he’ll change after every violent episode. We learn that Jane (Shailene Woodley) was the victim of a rape, which resulted in her becoming pregnant with her son Ziggy, whom she is raising as a single mom.
She becomes friends with Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) after moving to Monterrey in an attempt to give her son a better life. Madeline is a victim simply because she can’t have it all. She is essentially stuck between Bonnie and Renata (Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern), who are victims of their success. Bonnie is the young, attractive twentysomething bohemian type with a superb figure, who married Madeline’s ex-husband Nathan (Jake Tupper). Renata is a Power Skirt in a Power Couple.
Bonnie reminds the middle aged ladies of their fading youth, beauty and fertility, and is thus victimized by those iciest of attitudes and scorn directed at her from the older set.
Renata is a victim of her success as a striver. She is on the board of PayPal, and her Power Skirt success, and all that comes with it, including French nanny, leads the other ladies to view her as a failure with regards to raising her daughter Amabella.
Even Amabella is a victim, as we find out in the first episode. One of her male classmates choked her, and throughout the series she continues to suffer physical abuse. When her mother Renata noticed the marks on her neck and when it was discovered the perpetrator was a boy, she asked Amabella to identify him, saying that “Little boys don’t get to go around anymore hurting little girls, and none of us want to raise bullies.”
It was that line that confirmed to me that the show was going to be mostly about exploring feminist/progressive themes, not that there is anything wrong with that. I kept watching, after all. And there is a lot of truth involved, as long as you aren’t watching through the lens of your standard feminist.
A lot of the commentary in Big Little Lies revolves around Perry and Celeste’s relationship, owing to the regular beatings Celeste endures and her therapy sessions in which she slowly realizes that she has to get away from Perry, first by sneaking off to a sanctuary apartment, and ultimately leaving Perry for good. The discussion has been framed in a general ‘raise awareness’ manner with many praising the show for highlighting the uncomfortable domestic violence in a stark manner.
What has been less discussed is the wide symbolism of Perry and Celeste. Perry is a tall, handsome alpha male who is a Big Swinging Dick type constantly packing up his cadre of bespoke suits before jetting off for some high stakes business trip. It is interesting that out of all of the men in the show, he is one of two for whom we know, or at least have a very good idea of what he does for a living in order to bring in the millions. We also know that Madeline’s new husband Ed (Adam Scott) is some sort of tech wizard, but we’re not sure whether he is even responsible for their wealth. It is plausible that it came from Madeline’s divorce settlement.
Anyhow, Perry is supposed to represent The Patriarchy. Big, brash bold, full of toxic masculinity, and forever holding women back. Indeed we find out in an early episode that Celeste was once a lawyer and gave it up at the behest of Perry, in order to be a stay at home mom. She laments this in a conversation with Madeline after she oh so flawlessly displays her legal skill to help Madeline after the mayor had moved to shut down the production of a controversial play she had been working on. After saving the play, she breaks down in frustration, using TV-esque language about how he felt alive in the thick of legal combat and complaining that the daily drudgery of motherhood simply wasn’t enough for her.
But The Patriarchy, aka Perry is holding her back. True to form, the simple freelance work is the source of another fight between the two, as Perry fears Celeste’s brief foray back into non-domestic work will give her the yearning for more, which indeed it does. This leads to an undercurrent of frustration in Celeste, who channels this into sharp-witted barbs at Perry, intended to push his buttons. These remarks are successful. Perry becomes enraged, and ultimately takes his frustrations out physically.
The relationship is indeed very toxic, but what is never explored by any of the show’s commentators is the simple fact that there are simple biological truths which govern the lives of men and women, and that beyond that, we all have choice.
Perry is not wrong for having an expectation for a wife who would stay at home and raise the kids. He has simply made a bad choice in picking Celeste to be that wife. For a start, she is considerably older than he is, a fact that is made clear by a sniveling member of the ‘Greek Chorus’ which litters the episodes with commentary from the cheap seats. The fact that he explicitly had to forbid her from working, as opposed to her eagerly giving her career up of her own volition is another red flag that should have kept Perry from wife-ing her up. Celeste clearly had other priorities, and forcing her not to pursue what she wanted was always going to lead to a wifely resentment, which is not good for anyone.
In short, Perry’s status as the good looking alpha male big baller businessman means that in theory he should have had his choice of women to marry. And he chose a considerably older careergrrl, instead of a considerably younger wife who wanted nothing more but to raise his kids. Poor choice, plain and simple. He could have done with some consultation from the likes of Roosh V, Heartiste or Rollo Tomassi.
Celeste also made a poor decision marrying Perry. We can infer from events later in the series (Perry is revealed to have been Jane’s rapist) that Perry had always been a bit ‘rough’ and that Celeste should have known this from the start, if not well before marriage became a possibility.
But it is exactly this roughness that attracted Celeste in the first place, and she admits as much to her therapist. And here we explore a truth that feminists do not want to acknowledge, namely that male power, particularly as exhibited by alpha males, is a turn on. For all the talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ coming from feminists, there is never an admission that this is also what drives female attraction. The force that feminists decry when it is employed in domestic violence is the same force that drives male achievement; the same force both impels the construction of skyscrapers or the destruction that is war.
The question is the ends to which those forces are directed. It is a question that drives civilization, but that is beyond the scope of this post. The bottom line is that the rough sex sessions and the feeling of sheer physical dominance Perry had over Celeste mirrored the professional dominance he obviously exerted in his field that led to his elevated standing. Perry’s masculinity, in all forms, was attractive to her, up to a point. It only became a problem for her once she came to the realization that it might actually kill her.
Celeste and Perry’s turbulent intimacy provides a good segue to the relationship between Madeline and Ed. In Episode 6, they inquire as to why Celeste and Perry were no-shows to the premiere of the aforementioned play for which Celeste had given legal assistance to Madeline for earlier on. What had happened was that in another instance of physical abuse, Celeste defended herself by whacking Perry with a tennis racket. Unfortunately for Perry, the racket struck his exposed, erect penis, and he had to be rushed to the hospital.
The story that Celeste told was that Perry had been injured while the two were engaged in a wildly passionate sex session. This led to a scene in which Ed, simultaneously impressed that such a sex life existed, and disappointed that he wasn’t experiencing it, not-so-subtly raised these concerns with Madeline.
“You’re a fiery person….which makes your tepidness for me, more conspicuous.”
Madeline icily shoots back that Ed is hardly a “raging bull,” to which Ed’s response, tinged with the bitterness of the Average Frustrated Beta Male is “well that’s because you don’t want it, Madeline. And we don’t talk about it because that would make it harder to pretend.”
Where Perry is the imposing, chest beating, boardroom warrior alpha male, Ed is the much shorter, tech geek beta male. He confirms this in a conversation he has with Madeline’s ex-husband, the relatively more alpha Nathan, in an attempt to mend the bad blood between the two men. When it is clear these efforts aren’t going to be successful, Ed passively-aggressively recalls moments from his youth when ‘guys like him’ (betas) were always bullied by ‘guys like you’ (alphas). He goes on to recount that he always knew that he would have a chance to turn the tables and exact his revenge, implying that the time was imminent.
Ultimately it is Ed’s cowardly behavior and poor decision making which leads to his misery. Like Perry, he made a poor choice for a spouse. Madeline was a late thirty-something divorcee with a child. Three red flags. But she still had that last ounce of ‘hot’ about her, and having most likely spent a lifetime being rejected by the Hot Girls, Ed quickly pounced on Madeline when she fell into his lap.
On the other side of the coin, Madeline divorced the more alpha Nathan and ended up with the beta provider Ed, a poor choice on her part. But given her aging and fading looks, the desperate Ed was probably her only choice for longer term commitment. She seeks to fill the sexiness void that Ed can’t by cheating on him with the director of the play she is producing.
She has no qualms with explicitly letting Ed know about her disappointment in his lower status. She constantly brings up Nathan, who has confirmed his alpha by remarrying the much younger, hotter, tighter, Bonnie. She even tells Ed to his face that Nathan had won the divorce, since he ended up with Bonnie, who gave him new child, while she ended up with ‘just’ Ed. Ed, lacking any semblance of self-respect, just absorbs this pure, unadulterated disrespect with no response, even though we know deep down he suffers.
Further amplifying his sexual status, Ed tries to make a pass at Bonnie when they meet after one of her yoga sessions, but in beta fashion it comes off as awkward. And then of course, there is his attempt to address the lackluster sex life between himself and Madeline. This ‘creepiness’ from a beta male did not go unnoticed by some of the feminist commentariat, which described Ed’s ‘problematic’ beta-ness with derision similar to that held for Perry, which reveals an underlying truth in gender relations. Women can borderline excuse egregious behavior from alphas (omg Perry is ‘the worst’), while middling behavior from betas can be crucified.
In the end, The Patriarchy had to be killed, while bad life choices are swept under the rug, as per Feminist wishes, and Big Little Lies dutifully obliges. In the final episode, we find out that Amabella’s abuser is Max, one of Celeste and Perry’s twin boys. We find that he learned this behavior imitating his fathers’ behavior towards Celeste. Up until that point, Amabella had insisted that the culprit had been Ziggy, Jane’s son. Ziggy maintains his innocence, but the fact that he has a rapist father gives Jane pause, since the fact that he has ‘abusive’ DNA could not rule out his guilt. Little does she know that Perry is indeed Ziggy’s father, the rapist, a fact we find out in the cathartic scene towards the end of the finale.
(Sidebar – Jane’s rape is yet another example of poor decision making. Although we didn’t find out who it was until the end, we find out much earlier how it happened. Jane decided to get drunk and allowed a mystery man to charm himself into her hotel room. According to Jane’s account, he suddenly became violent and then raped her. Of course this is all blasphemy to the My Body My Choice, anti slut-shaming brand of feminism, but there is no denying that Jane’s course of action was reckless to say the least. That does not absolve her rape, mind.)
The pivotal scene takes place at a school fundraiser, and just prior, Perry finds out that Celeste had purchased an apartment with the intent to leave him. He spends the night trying to convince her to stay, and when she does not relent, Perry launches into another attack, beating her in front of her friends who had magically gathered to work out some of the other loose plot strands. Jane, Madeline, Renata, and Celeste together fight off Perry, and then Bonnie, who had been watching the scene from afar, comes out of nowhere to push Perry off the ledge, down the steps, to his ultimate death.
That’s it. The Patriarchy – the wife beating, career-denying, raping, controlling, disempowering monster conveniently woven into the Perry character – was now dead, and the women were free. They first had to #resist the police by going full #YesAllWomen and #metoo in sticking to the lie that it was an accident. Then, the final scene shows the women playing with their children on the beach, smiles everywhere, no men around. The feminist pornography shot finally fades to black.
Stylistically, Big Little Lies shares the same high production value that most modern premium TV does. It is a really well done show from a technical basis, the directing, cinematography, acting and soundtrack are all top notch. It just fails to rid itself of the feminist propaganda that has infected TV. But I suppose that is to be expected. As Heartiste says:
TV is now a feminist wish fulfillment wasteland, glorifying every White man-hating matrigenic dystopia, from single mommery to race mixing to willing cuckoldry. The latter’s insinuation into popular (read: single White female and gay homosexual) culture has been egregious; willing cuckolds are everywhere, satisfying the female desire for alpha fux and beta bux. There are shows that have blatantly pro-cuck plot lines in which a pregnant slut or single slut mommy has beta phagg suitors lining up to swear their loyalty to the bastard spawn, while the alpha cads that knocked these hos up are either nowhere found onscreen or they come and go continuing to service the sprog-saddled skanks with the least investment possible.
I see that a second season has been confirmed. No doubt will these themes be furthered, particularly in light of the sexual harassment avalanche which commenced a few months after it aired. I expect I’ll continue to hate-watch as a guilty pleasure.