Maybe “Big Little Lies” should give back all those awards it won back in 2017.
The four Golden Globes, the two SAG Awards, the DGA Award, the TCA Award and six of the eight Emmys it won were in limited series — aka miniseries — categories. And a miniseries has a beginning and an end. It doesn’t continue.
Turns out “Big Little Lies,” however, didn’t end. A second, seven-episode season begins Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.
The original was based on Liane Moriarty’s novel, albeit with some significant changes — including a considerably less definitive ending. So despite all the denials from executive producers/stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, writer/executive producer David E. Kelly, and the rest of the cast — including Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley — we probably should have expected more “Big Little Lies.”
And, by the way, “BLL” doesn’t have to return any of those awards. The second season is a limited series that’s a sequel to the first — the way “Roots: The Next Generations” was a miniseries sequel to “Roots.”
HBO’s first “Big Little Lies” did not, however, require a sequel. It ended with abusive husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) attacking his wife, Celeste (Kidman); Madeleine (Witherspoon), Jane (Woodley) and Renata (Dern) unsuccessfully trying to fight him off; and Bonnie (Kravitz) pushing Perry down the stairs to his death. In the book, the five women tell the truth about what happened and it’s ruled self-defense; in the miniseries, they vow to keep it secret.
So why make a sequel? Because Kidman, Witherspoon and Co. are Really Big Stars who talked an Even Bigger Star — Meryl Streep — into joining them.
“We became very close, and we had such a good time doing it,” Kidman said. “And the desire to spend more time together was a huge part of it.”
Another part — the “enormous demand from the audience,” Kidman insisted.
Well, at least one high-profile member of the audience wanted more.
“I loved this show. I was addicted to it,” Streep said. “So when I got the chance to join the crew, I thought, ‘Yeah!’ I wanted to do it, to be in that world.”
Streep comes aboard as Celeste’s mother-in-law. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t believe her son was bad. Even less surprisingly, you’re not going to like her.
Moriarty came up with “almost like a novella for us to use as a template,” Witherspoon said. And all characters “had unresolved issues.”
Not to mention new issues that arise from their group decision to keep the details of Perry’s death to themselves.
Both seasons of “Big Little Lies” deal with domestic abuse. Both are pleasant anomalies in Hollywood — a female-centric story about multiple women, with women in charge. Season 2 was directed by Andrea Arnold, stepping in for first-season director Jean-Marc Vallée. And all six of the lead actors provided input as Kelly was writing the scripts.
“We didn’t want to do this unless we could at least have a fair shot of living up to the bar that we felt we had all set in year one,” Kelly said. “So we met, we talked about what the stories were. We were very unflinching and candid with each other.”
But it’s not like “Big Little Lies” is some sort of public service project. It’s a big soap opera, with over-the-top twists and turns, high drama and surprises. No spoilers here, but I’ve seen the first three episodes of Season 2 and I’m definitely interested in seeing more.
Will Season 2 leave an opening for Season 3?
“No such plan now,” Kelly said, adding that Season 2 “will probably be it.”
“That’s what you said last time,” Kidman interjected.
“You sat here and said that last time, David,” Witherspoon agreed.
If Season 2 does well for HBO and wins another boatload of awards, no one would be surprised if there’s a Season 3.