'Big Little Lies' season 2 uses the Monterey Five's children to expose and confront the lies of their mothers
We're not saying that having kids ruins your life. However, there's no denying that the consequences of one's actions, by extension, impact their children too
Spoiler alert for 'Big Little Lies' season two
HBO's hit drama 'Big Little Lies' opens the discourse on a lot of things, and at its core, it might be a story about mothers protecting their children. But in season two, as the show discusses the issues of marital conflicts, rape, assault, embezzlement and more, somehow, it is the mini-mes of the famed Monterey Five who become crucial to the plot, rather than the day-to-day developments of their mothers.
Of course, the season is just three episodes old, but so far, not only have the children been used as an expository trope, but it is the intuitive wisdom they carry that is proving to be quite dangerous for their parents — a real issue common with most modern families. We're not saying that having kids ruins your life. However, there's no denying that the consequences of one's actions, by extension, impact their children too. When parents are too focused on trying to shield their children from the inevitable horrors of the world, they don't realise it is their actions that cause the growing minds the most harm.
Take Madeline Mackenzie's (Reese Witherspoon) daughters, Chloe and Abigail for instance. Precocious and loud-mouthed like their mother, neither of them mind passing on gossip without caring about the consequences. And as big a factor as their impressionable age is, there's no denying that as a parent, maybe Madeline shouldn't have lied about the abusive Perry Wright's (Alexander Skarsgard) death, or have committed infidelity in the past and maintained it a secret from her now-husband, Ed (Adam Scott).
When Chloe picked up on her mother's hushed up discussion with Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) about the latter's assault at the hands of Perry, the little child did what any other child would, and shared the revelation with her friends. Sadly, Jane's son Ziggy — who was conceived from the assault — was also a part of the trio that Chloe shared the news with. It is one thing to find out about the identity of his father, and a whole other ballgame — especially for a second grader — to find out that he was conceived from rape. So to be put in that position, dumped with such grave, sensitive new information has to be a traumatizing experience for a child: all because Madeline's daughter — just like her — doesn't know when to keep shut.
It is also while scolding Chloe for vomiting gossip that Madeline's husband Ed finds out about the harrowing truth, and things go downhill between the married couple from that point onwards. While Ed is still disappointed with Madeline not telling him the truth before, Abigail decides to bring up the topic of Madeline's affair in the middle of a heated argument between the mother and daughter.
Ed overhears the conversation, and after processing the news, calls of their relationship. The fight between Abigail and Madeline was on the topic of college - something that the high school senior didn't want to attend. But Madeline doesn't want her daughter to follow the same path she did, so she continues to push, just to avoid feeling like she has failed as a mother. In turn, she ends up failing as a wife.
But Chloe and Abigail aren't the only ones. When Jane decides to talk to Ziggy about the issue, he tells his mother that he never told her anything about knowing his father's truth because he just figured she would lie about it. On the other hand, we have Renata Klein's (Laura Dern) daughter Amabella having a full-blown panic attack at school which stemmed from her concerns for her mother being in a constant state of turmoil.
Even Bonnie Carlson's daughter, Skye, asks her whether she and her husband, Nathan, are getting divorced after sensing that something is off between the two, despite their hardest attempts at keeping the reality from their daughter. Things get worse when late Perry's wife, Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is caught on her bullsh*t by her children, who explicitly tell her that she doesn't like talking about their father's death, and how they are not the kind of family that is open with one another. It is almost as if the tighter the Monterey Five tries to keep their secret, the easier their children bust them for their lies.
Throughout the ongoing second season, we see these children understanding and perceiving things with more clarity than their parents are capable of given their current state of mind. And these children aren't afraid to explicitly voice out these perceptions, which are often closer to the truth than their mothers would like to admit. Sure, pretty much every mom on the show is trying their hardest to protect their children from the world, and that includes Bonnie's mother asking her to reconcile with her spirituality, and Perry's mother Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) fighting to clear the accusations against her son even after he is deceased.
But a lot of their woes and worries wouldn't have amounted to feeling like they have failed as a parent had it not been for the way their children intercepted things or went about their desires. And now, beyond the point of no return, it is these very same children that they have worked so hard into protecting, who are spurring them towards their downfall.
'Big Little Lies' airs on Sundays at 9 pm, only on HBO.