Big Little Lies Premiere Nicole Kidman

Big Little Lies Premiere: Are You Sold on HBO's Rich-Moms Miniseries?

Welcome to beautiful Monterey, California, where everything is a high-class, top-dollar affair… even the homicides.

Sunday’s premiere of Big Little Lies — HBO’s seven-part adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel — opens on a grim crime scene at a lavish school fundraiser. Somebody’s dead, and the town’s nosy residents are all too happy to gossip to the cops about who might be responsible. The victim suffered severe fractures to the pelvis and skull, and the detectives rule the death a homicide, but we don’t learn who actually died, much less who killed them. We do learn a lot, though, about the rich moms who rule Monterey.

Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is a type-A queen bee who loves to ruffle feathers: She’s planning a school production of the lewd puppet musical Avenue Q. Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is a soft-spoken mom with twin boys whose marriage to Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) is nauseatingly affectionate. And Jane (Shailene Woodley) is new in town, and much less rich and glamorous than her new neighbors. But she’s young, which goes a long way in Monterey.

Big Little Lies Premiere Laura Dern Reese Witherspoon Shailene WoodleyMadeline gives Jane a warm welcome, introducing her to the other mothers at elementary-school orientation — which doubles as a verbal firing range for these competitive moms. Madeline’s rival Renata (Laura Dern) complains about how busy she is after joining the board at PayPal, and mistakes Jane for a nanny. Plus, Madeline has to contend with her ex-husband Nathan (James Tupper) and his new wife Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), a bohemian yoga instructor whose easygoing, Zen attitude drives Madeline nuts.

The kale really hits the fan, though, when Renata’s daughter Amabella leaves school with red marks on her neck. She says one of the boys in class hurt her — and points at Jane’s son Ziggy. He insists he didn’t do it, and Jane sticks up for him, which leads to a war of words with Renata, with Madeline leaping to Jane’s defense. Renata leaves in a huff… and we get the feeling this incident might be the start of a rift that leads to that grisly homicide.

Plus, we discover that everyone’s life isn’t as picture-perfect as it seems. Madeline is jealous of Bonnie, and feels like her daughters are growing up too fast. Celeste’s marriage turns ugly when Perry violently yanks her by the arm to make a point. And Jane seems to be running from her past: Ziggy’s dad isn’t in the picture at all, and she has strange visions of herself jogging on the beach in a blue dress. One night in bed, she unlocks a drawer and pulls out a revolver, placing it under her pillow.

So despite all the extravagant wealth in Monterey, no one living there is really happy. But are they unhappy enough to kill? And which one of them is the murder victim? And most importantly, how can we make enough money to afford Renata’s incredible beach house with those stunning seaside views?

Give the Big Little Lies premiere a grade in our poll, then hit the comments to tell us what you thought.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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42 Comments
  1. Sam says:

    ugh Shailene Woodley falls into the same category as Jennifer Lawrence as way too self aware and miscast in everything.

    • Dave says:

      Ditto. And that’s no compliment!

    • jj. says:

      was thinking the same! Like some other commenters I found the first episode to be a bit slow, though I try not to judge a series by its first episode so I’ll give it a few more weeks. I did find kidman’s character a bit offputting though

    • The Beach says:

      Thank you. I knew it was reminding me of another recent one-off show but couldn’t think of what it was…with a lot more glamorous scenery and actors. I sure hope it turns out a lot better than The Slap.

  2. Ws says:

    It’s a bit too slow and i think they over did the talking heads interview stuff.. but i’ll stick around for a few more weeks cause of the cast.. hope the pacing picks up though.

  3. Dave says:

    Is it always gonna be this boring?

  4. Scott S says:

    That “teacher calling out the kids in front of the parents” scene was borderline impossible to watch as a teacher.

  5. kerry says:

    I read the book and enjoyed it very much. Love the series too. Great actors.

  6. TJ says:

    As a first grade teacher, that teacher’s way of handleing the whole situation was awful. I know it is not real, but that still bothered me. Also, I’m thinking it was one of Kidmans kids after seeing what their dad does to their mom and how defensive Perry got!

  7. Haz says:

    I liked it the only thing that bothered me was that beard Adam Scott had. Maybe it’s just me but for some reason that beard did not look right.

  8. Beth says:

    Too much boring dialogue

  9. Garbo says:

    I liked the first episode, I don’t like how Madeline is portrayed as a bitch especially because she was clearly the voice of reason by telling off Renata for talking to a child the way she did and stating the obvious that the teacher handled the whole situation in the worst way possible.

    I also really liked the cast, especially Witherspoon who is on fire in this role and Kidman whose elegant screen presence provides the kind of class that can actually elevate the material. Saoirse Ronan or Kristen Stewart would have been better for Jane, but Woodley will be fine, too. And it is always nice to see the wonderful Laura Dern, so there’s that.

  10. Kira says:

    Nothing about this show feels like it’s rooted in reality. Not the dialogue, not the characters, not the plot, nothing. I was extremely underwhelmed.

  11. taylorgeary says:

    Yes, I read the book, but they got this so wrong. I can usually separate source material from an adaptation, except here apparently. Reese and Laura Dern should’ve switched parts. Reese comes off as a bitch, which the original character is not. This is a perfect example of casting stars instead of casting actors who actually fit the part. Mostly in Reese’s case, but also Nicole. At least Nicole admitted to casting herself, but Reese gave that bullshit Hollywood Reporter article about having to be talked into the role. The directing is wobbly, the editing is confusing, the dialogue is painful. Not to mention, they’re hailing this as a feminist breakthrough, but David E. Kelly wrote the script and it comes across as a man trying to write what he thinks women talk like. I cringed during most scenes (especially when Reese and Laura had full conversations with their husbands without turning away from staring at the sunset! They had such a good book to work with, but failed so hard.

    • TJ says:

      Thank you. The book was so much better than this. Now granted I knew Reese was going to play Madeline so I could picture her when I read the book. I thought Reese was the one who optioned this book so why was she talked into it? Anyway in the book she wears these over the top outfits and it’s all about the shoes etc. She is always the life of the party and big on gossip. This just seems so dark from beginning to end. I guess to me she was more like Delta Burke on Designing Women than anything else. LOL

  12. Matchbox says:

    The first ep made for some easy-to-watch mindless TV, with beautiful actresses giving solid performances set amidst lovely scenery. (It’s a shame that was repeatedly spoiled by HBO NOW’s uber-crappy HD picture quality. Seriously, you charge more than Netflix, Amazon and Showtime but can’t offer decent streams like they do?) Yes, it was a bit slow at times and the repetitive commentary from local townsfolk (whom we later learn were actually giving statements to the cops) was kind of annoying. But I’m interested enough in the characters and the whodunnit to come back for at least another episode or two.

  13. liame says:

    The premiere was a little woozy. I don’t know what it is but Kidman’s character irks me or maybe it’s just her. I’m assuming it gets better based the “good” reviews it received from critics.

  14. Ally Oop says:

    I haven’t yet seen this but the recap reminds me a lot of Desperate Housewives.

  15. HAP says:

    I was a bit disappointed, given this incredible cast. Have to blame the producers for not delivering a better product.

  16. It’s Amabella, for God’s sake (such a a too-precious name that is) have you not read the aforementioned book?

  17. marge201 says:

    Too grim for me. Pretty sure I’m going to cancel it on my DVR. Too much other stuff to watch (Colbert, Shark Tank, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and more) to spend an hour a week on a show that revolves around a horrific crime. I want to laugh, not cringe!

    • Barbara Wisbey says:

      First Off I must tell you that HBO is totally my favorite network on the TV Line-up.

      In my opinion HBO is the best Hands Down!!!

      I have been with bated breath for ” BIG LITTLE LIES” to hit the airwaves!!!

      Numerous Entertainment Stories regarding this series have aired creating my anticipation for this show.

      Nicole Kidman who is a bonafide “Movie Actress” doesn’t normally appear on TV.

      She is truly one of my favorite Movie Actresses of all time.

      David E.Kelley is extremely talented in my opinion & the husband of actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

      After viewing numerous ads on HBO for this new series I was beyond Jazzed to view this new series.

      So I taped it & then previewed this new series.

      I did not find it riveting by any way shape or form.

      That does not mean that I don’t have it taped for next week but if it does not pick up and capture me beyond that it will be 3 strikes & you’re out.

      The scenery alone is to die for.

      So I plan on hanging in there for at least the first 3 episodes.

      BARBARA WISBEY
      PALM SPRINGS
      CALIFORNIA