'Big Little Lies' peels layers off the perfect facade of the dysfunctional American family

'Big Little Lies' peels layers off the perfect facade of the dysfunctional American family

Set in the breathtakingly picturesque seaside town of Monterey, California, HBO series 'Big Little Lies' revolves around the lives of five women and their families.

Through the lives of these women, the show reflects on how dysfunctional families strive to appear as "ideal families".

As social commentary, the show nudges us to think about social constructs which force women to succumb to traditional gender roles.

The characters in 'Big Little Lies'—Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeleine (Reese Witherspoon), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern), and Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz)—are empowered, educated women who chose to become stay-at-home mothers and take their social status and public image very, very seriously.

A scene from 'Big Little Lies' (Source: IMDB)

The Monterey Five are constantly striving for perfection. All the women put on a strong and seemingly "perfect" front, painting an equally perfect picture of their families as they go about their daily lives.

The show mocks this mentality throughout the season, leading up to the force of rebellion that pushes things off the edge in the finale.

The "lies" that these women hold vary from person to person but have one thing in common—their respective family's reputation in the town is at stake.

A scene that stands out in how it satirizes the idea of the "perfect family" is when Madeleine and Ed (Adam Scott) are having lunch with Nathan (James Tupper) and Bonnie in the most civil and respectable manner that the families can treat each other. Madeleine, who has had one too many drinks, throws up all over the table—and Bonnie, too—which is really how she feels about the whole idea of having lunch with her ex Nathan and his new partner. 

The animosity between the families in the suburb is translated into their desperate need to outdo each other, which the women often take onto themselves. This can be seen in Renata's daughter's birthday party, or almost any other event that takes place in Monterey, families take them way too seriously and try way too hard to be "better than the rest".


Celeste portrays her abusive husband Perry as the best husband and father, to the extent where she herself finds comfort in the lie.

Madeleine is not in love with her husband Ed and cheats on him, but is in denial as she strives to be the perfect wife and mother.

The beautiful ocean-scape of Monterey sets the backdrop for the show, including the shots where the women are seen frolicking in the sand after a murder.

The five of them now hold a secret which could destroy all of their lives. But the scene is not one of dread. Instead, the mothers of Monterey and their children look blissfully happy after the incident that shattered their facades and brought them together in rebellion against oppression and patriarchy.

The second season of the show "will explore the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. Relationships will fray, loyalties will erode…the potential for emotional and bodily injury shall loom," according to HBO.


'Big Little Lies' season 2 will premiere on HBO on June 9. 

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 Big Little Lies season 2 reflects dysfunctional modern American family struggle for perfection