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Is "Big Little Lies" Season Two a Bad Idea?



Big Little Lies, the most critically acclaimed and one of the most popular shows of 2017, is coming back for another season. The all-star cast, which includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern, is expected to return, along with writer David E. Kelley. British director Andrea Arnold will direct all of the seven-episode new season. While this news, rumored to be in the works ever since the first go around became a pop culture phenomenon last winter, has fans rejoicing. And while I was one of the series' biggest supporters, I am not so sure this is good news. 

Sure, season one ended with a perfect tease of where a new season could go, but I was content letting that be it. In its final moments, Big Little Lies revealed itself to be a show about all types of women coming together to fight the forces of evil keeping women down. Although the five leading ladies had spent much of the previous episodes fighting with one another, all their petty rivalries melted away once it became clear that the real threat was the one posed by Alexander Skarsgard's character, the embodiment of men treating women poorly. The ending was, in a word, perfect. In my view, the series made its argument abundantly clear, there's nothing left to say. 

But apparently, there is! The author of the original novel, Liane Moriarity, has cooked up a new story for the characters, that Kelley will turn into seven episodes. This has me worried for a number of reasons. Firstly, can lightning ever strike twice? The quality of the first season will be incredibly difficult to match, especially with all the added pressure to have it live up to expectations. Another thing that has me worried is the number of episodes there will be in season two. Seven episodes is technically not a lot at all, but even in the first season, there were places where the story felt padded out to fill seven episodes, and that season had a whole novel's worth of material to cover. There were several storylines that would have become annoying had they lasted a little while longer, such as Madeline's affair with the Avenue Q director. My concern is that season two will be only storylines like that.

Another concern I have is a logistical one. Managing the cast's movie star schedules must be challenging. What if they're not all available at the same time? What made this show great was the interaction among the women, so the absolute worst thing for the show would be if scheduling dictated story. Imagine if Renata went on her own adventure for three episodes because Laura Dern had to film her scenes separately or something. Nobody wants that!

Big Little Lies dominated the Emmys this past September, and surely HBO would like a repeat of that for its second season. So much of the Emmys conversation centered around Nicole Kidman's inevitable win for her incredibly juicy and socially relevant storyline. Season two would provide an opportunity for Reese to catch up with Nicole and win an acting Emmy of her own (they both took home statues for producing the first season). And while I want Reese to be rewarded for her work, what I do not want is for the series to shamelessly chase awards by trying to give Madeline a story this time around that has as much gravitas as Celeste's. Yes, it is about very serious issues, but Big Little Lies should always be a fun show to watch. I don't want to watch Madeline die of cancer just because Reese Witherspoon wants an Emmy.

I would have preferred that Big Little Lies remain a miniseries, as originally intended. Let it exist in the perfect form it is in already. Why risk sullying it with an inferior follow up? However, if they are committed to doing this (and it really seems like they are), why not treat it like a sequel to a movie rather than the second season of a TV show? Give it an entirely new name and act like it is following up with these characters a few years after the events of the first season. It should be another miniseries because miniseries do not have to worry about setting up plots for future seasons, a problem which has derailed countless second seasons. Calling it Big Little Lies season two and treating it like a continuation of the thing people loved so much is just setting itself up for failure. 

Now that I have laid out all my fears, let's talk about what I am looking forward to about season two. Bringing on Andrea Arnold as director was a really smart decision. Although none of her feature films are widely known to mainstream audiences, she has proven herself to be an extremely adept and visually strong auteur. Plus, with Big Little Lies being so much a women's story, it is great to see a woman behind the camera. Although I loved Jean-Marc Vallee's work on the first season, I have doubts about whether he could have repeated it, as his filmography is incredibly spotty (seriously, Demolition is one of the worst movies I have ever seen). 

I must admit, the first thing I did when I heard the news of a second season this morning was glance over at my Big Little Lies poster hanging on the wall of my dorm room. The prospect of revisiting the lush world of Monterey and spending more time with Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Bonnie, and Renata does have me intrigued. Production on the new season will happen from March to August, meaning the earliest we will see the new season is probably early 2019. So, there is plenty of time between now and then for my mind to change a million times. Hopefully by the time the new season actually premieres, all of my fears will seem silly. I guess we will just have to wait and see. 

Are you excited about more Big Little Lies? Let me know in the comments below!

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