(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.”