Big Little Lies: Commentary On White Privilege

I wasn’t going to watch Big Little Lies which just wrapped up it’s 7 episode series last night on HBO. Nothing was on and while channel surfing I decided to check out the first show and see if it was worth watching. With all honesty, from the very beginning Big Little Lies pulled me in.   There is a reason that it was trending #1 on Twitter all night, and that several people are talking about this show.

Set in Monterey California, a beautiful sea side community in Northern CA, Big Little Lies centers in on the lives of privilege. It’s clear from the homes the leading ladies live in, both Madeline, played by Reese Witherspoon  and Celeste portrayed powerfully by Nicole Kidman are clearly not scraping by.  As the first show begins, we learn that someone has died, and this is going to be a murder mystery. Over the course of the next 5 shows we slowly meet and learn more about all of the players involved.

Out the gate, we learn that the women we are meeting in this first show have something to do with the murder. There is also a possibility one of the women we’re meeting early on, isn’t going to make it to the end!  All of that, drew me in and I’m glad I watched it. I hope you did too.

As a warning there will be spoilers in this review of Big Little Lies.

We meet Jane, played by Divergent star, Shailene Woodley who is a single mom that just moved to Monterey. As the series progresses we slowly learn more about her, and her son Ziggy.

Since the show was limited to 7 episodes they really wasted no time. On the very first day of school, Jane is befriended by Madeline who see’s her car broken down. Turns out their kids attend the same school, and in a white community the trust is very high!  Madeline invited Jane and her son to hop on in the car and took them both to school.  By the end of this first show, we’ve met several mothers via commentary from Madeline. We meet her friend Celeste all while clips play from what seem to be, random people.

We find out later, the people talking were teachers, and other parents being interviewed by the Police.  Coupled with our Murder mystery is another mystery. One of the kids Amabella is being bullied, and she points to, Ziggy as the one who’s responsible. Jane, being an outsider to this new community is protected by her new friend Madeline. Wah la, drama, war, and that was most of the very first episode.

From there, the story ‘gradually’ unfolds.  More and more ‘Big little lies’ are told.

We find that most people perceive the relationship between Celeste and her husband Perry  as relationship goals.

But, their relationship isn’t what people think.  Celeste is being abused. She hides her pain, and her scars very well. Lucky for her, she was able to get her husband to attend counseling, and had access to a quality professional. You can’t fool a professional; she knew right away that something was ‘off’ about these two. While telling this story, Big Little Lies also weaves the crazy life of Madeline in as well. Married to “Ed”, with one daughter together, she is raising a rebellious teen from her previous marriage.

The relationship between Madeline and Ed is pretty fascinating as well.   Ed is the opposite of Perry, and perhaps to his own detriment, nothing like Madeline’s ex-husband Nathan either.  Her Ex is married to Bonnie, played exceptionally well by Zoe Kravitz. By the finale, I was wishing she had a bigger role, and then was very pleased with how pivotal her role becomes!  Ed, feels like he’s married the woman of his dreams, but she is still mad her first choice, chose another woman.

At the same time, Ed seems to admire Bonnie and is somewhat envious of Nathan. All the while, Ed is doing very well for himself.

This is what has made Big Little Lies a successful show.

As we meet these characters, many are relatable, even if you aren’t white and privileged. We get several glimpses however, into white society.  So much of what went on in this story would completely change if any of the characters were black.  Does Jane really end up getting a ride to school from Madeline if her car breaks down?  If Ziggy were black, would Madeline still come to his defense so quickly?  Anyone who has lived the black experience cannot help but ask these questions while watching.

It has been noted that money does not solve problems. In spite of all the money these characters have, even Jane who’s able to re-locate and purchase a home, problems still persist!

The show did a great job of weaving in constant lies that tend to break up the foundations of any relationship. It’s the dishonesty, that is so prevalent in human society today, that is leading to break downs.  Fake news and Alternative facts can only turn out bad for all of us!

The relationships play a major role in making you wonder, just who died, and who killed them!

Big Little Lies Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz)

One of the characters later says in the finale, given what we know now, we were lucky to only get off with one murder!

Since it would take too long to break down ‘each show’, we may re-visit this topic in the future. The show was good enough to really unpack so many life lessons.

I just want to re-cap some of the biggest big little lies as I close this review out.

Big Little Lie #1 – Not Blaming The real Bully.

We discuss Racism on the pages of SoPoCo and how white people are the only ones who can end racism. What I’m not sure we’ve spent enough time on though, is often white people are victims of racists too. Whites who stand up to racism are often mistreated, threatened, or harmed by racist white people. Sometimes, just like Amabella was, they are afraid to confront their bully. They lie about who is bullying them, and place the blame for their problems on others. What we learn, is that like Ziggy, a real friend must come to the aid of their friend.  If your white friends are being bullied by racist white people, help them fight back.

Big Little Lie #2 – Abuse is Not Abuse When it’s Sexual Gratification.

I’ll have to circle back to this one. I don’t know how a movie like Fifty Shades of Gray became mainstream. Films about BDSM used to be the kinda stuff even online porn sites hid in small print.  For years it’s been called ‘alternative sex’, and there seems to be a push to make it normal. My short thoughts on this phenomenon is it says a lot about white people in general. What in the fuck is the sexual gratification from abuse all about? I’ve been working out an entire ‘conversation piece’ on how racists seem to ‘get off’ on abuse. I believe the two are linked.  When people confuse sexual gratification with abuse, those big little lies have major repercussions.

Big Little Lie #3 – Bad Habits/Ideas Aren’t Learned at Home.

What we find out in episode 7 ties the entire story together so well.  Jane was raped, and does not know who the father of her child is. (By the way, bravo for a narrative about a single mother who isn’t black for once!) Throughout the show there are clues, that made me wonder if it was Perry that raped her. What a coincidence that would be, and yea it was. You see, Perry has a real problem. His wife, telling big little lies, enabled this Monster to prey on women. Who knows how many victims he left in his wake, like Jane. Meanwhile, Celeste had been lying to her self the entire time.

This is a common trait that all victims of abuse exhibit!

She told her self that her twin boys didn’t know about the abuse she was going through. Turns out, her son Max (one of her twins) was the one bullying Amabella at school.

He learned this abusive behavior at home, watching the example of his abusive father.

Those loving moments were not enough to overcome his moments of rage. Yet, leading into the final episode it was unclear just who was going to kill who!

I’m not going to tell you who died though. I won’t tell you who killed that person either. I will say you should watch the entire show from start to finish, and come back to discuss how much it relates to everything. So many lies were told that we couldn’t cover them all in this one sitting.    Dishonesty creates so much chaos and confusion.  All throughout this series, there is SO much dishonesty.  The ending may be one of the most ‘honest’ moments, but even that ends up as a big little lie too!

One day humanity hopefully will finally accept the truth. Honesty is the best & only policy!