It’s been over two weeks since I watched the last episode of HBO’s brilliant series, Big Little Lies. I loved everything about this show.
The writing, acting, and directing are top level. I look forward to award season as I fully expect the show to pick up some hardware. If you’re like me, you didn’t read the book and thought it was a show about rich women fighting. It became obvious the show was much more than that from the first episode.
There are thousands of think pieces on the show out there, and I would urge you to read them. I’m here to rank the main women on the show. I do not include the men because honestly? The show is about women, their personal lives and the complexities of their day to day interactions. Men need not come into the picture unless they want to be pushed down some stairs.
Reese Witherspoon aka Madeline Martha Mackenzie
I stand for everything Madeline. Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline is the pettier, grown up version of her iconic Legally Blonde character, Elle Woods. I’ve always thought that Reese’s best acting performance has been Elle Woods (You know you can quote at least three lines of dialogue on command if asked), but I firmly think this character has edged Elle out of the way. Madeline is bitchy, smart, confident, and ridiculously loyal to her friends. And despite her life advantages, she’s doggy paddling through the fray of her increasingly out of control life, spurred on by an extramarital affair and trouble connecting with her teenage daughter.
And even with these flaws, her character is likable. You can tell her life is difficult, despite all the privilege that is bestowed upon her character. She’s rich, white, and looks amazing in her designer clothes. And yet I was rooting for her to take down all the other petty women in Monterey, one community stage play at a time.
Nicole Kidman aka Celeste Wright
Nicole Kidman is so good on this show. I hope she and Reese take home awards because she is brilliant as Celeste Wright, the abused ex-lawyer. Like Madeline, Celeste appears to have it all. Her secret life includes living with her monstrous husband, who abuses her at every turn. Celeste believes their relationship is fiery and passionate, where violent blows are followed by violent lovemaking. Her friends and fellow acquaintances all believe she’s living the perfect life; and again, from the outside she is. A beautiful house, beautiful family, and a wonderful husband all look perfect.
This makes her journey so impressive in the show. When Celeste begins to seek a therapist’s help, she slowly begins to recognize that her relationship is toxic. I fist pumped when she took steps to leave and was immensely proud when she rented the apartment. Every part of my being was rooting for her to leave and survive.
Shailene Woodley aka Jane Chapman
Shailene Woodley is one of those up and coming actresses you probably know from her activism. I know her as the girl who always seems to mention her new herbal root collection whenever she’s on Jimmy Fallon’s show. However, she can act. And I thought she held her own against Reese and Nicole.
Jane isn’t rich, she isn’t married, and she is harboring the secret that her son Ziggy, is the product of that rape. But her want to give her son a better life leads her to the moneyed shores of Monterey and the jungles of a wealthy private school led by suburban moms.
I spent a lot of the time rooting that Jane wouldn’t shoot a random man on her way to finding her rapist. I also spent a lot of time hoping this woman would back her car over Renata Klein. Jane spent a lot of her time worrying that her little boy, conceived during her violent rape, was somehow genetically predisposed to violence. However, that was not the case, and Ziggy turned out to be a sweet little boy. And Jane gets a somewhat happy ending; she manages to discover the identity of her rapist, Celeste’s abusive husband.
Laura Dern aka Renata Klein
Renata is every girl you knew in college that got her degree and decided to just be amazing at her first job out of college. She’s that one ruthless girl in your sorority who you knew was going to marry Brad, who is going into sales, and they were going to be a power couple from hell. I didn’t feel for Renata’s character one way or the other. She didn’t endear herself to me with her power crusade against Jane’s son Ziggy. But I felt for her when Madeline tried to sabotage her daughter’s birthday party. Her character seemed to be there to remind us that rich working women can’t have it all. There’s always that insecurity lurking in the background for working women. I was happy she made up with the other women in the end, and she discovered her daughter’s bully.
Zoë Kravitz aka Bonnie Carlson
You may think that I forgot the heroine of this show: BONNIE. I was just saving the best for the last. I, at first, could not stand Bonnie. Hippies don’t really do it for me, and I was never a huge yoga practitioner. But HOT DAMN she saved everyone’s lives when she shoved Celeste’s husband down the stairs. I don’t EVEN care that it may have been morally suspecting to shove someone down the stairs and then lie to the police about it. I guarantee you anyone that suggests Bonnie should turn herself in is an undercover cop and cannot be trusted.
Bonnie saved lives that night by thinking quickly. Bonnie pushed that man down the stairs on behalf of all women. And as soon as she did that, I pledged my allegiance to Bonnie. #BONNIEFORLIFE