'Big Little Lies' season 2 reveals Renata Klein's fear of losing her wealth and why she deserves to be called 'Medusa of Monterey'
Laura Dern's Renata Klein exhibits a pathological attachment to her money, something which even blinds her to the ordeals of her husband and daughter
'Big Little Lies' season 2 is all about bringing the five main characters' flaws to the forefront, and Renata Klein played by Laura Dern wins hands down for being as insensitive as they come.
Madeline Mackenzie's (Reese Witherspoon) infidelity, Bonnie Carlson's (Zoe Kravitz) guilt, Celeste Wright's (Nicole Kidman) mental condition, Jane Chapman's (Shailene Woodley) insecurities and Renata Klein's insensitivity to the situations of others, including her daughter's, play a big part in setting up the theme of the show.
All of these came together to show us that these women in Monterey are flawed and real. While others inspire empathy in various forms, Renata comes across as someone who is initially hard to connect with because all one can see is her obsession with staying rich. This obsession, however, has a lot to do with how hard she worked to get where she is despite being ostracized by society for going for what she wanted.
Her obsession with wealth goes above and beyond even the wellness of her daughter and it becomes clear in the third episode of 'Big Little Lies' season 2.
After Renata's husband Gordon Klein (Jeffrey Nordling) gets arrested on charges of fraud, her world comes crashing down and we see how unnerved she is about possibly losing all her money -- she says multiple times on the show how she cannot be poor. Her obsession with material assets is so deep that when her daughter is found passed out in her school after a panic attack, she blames it on her husband's arrest. She also assumes that this has to be the cause for all of her daughter Amabella Klein's worries.
Later, when she learns that the one thing that her daughter is most worried about is the end of the world, she still doesn't let her husband off the hook. She is also not ready to accept blame for worrying her daughter. She takes it so far as to blame the school for not taking her seriously because she stands to lose her fortune. While all that the teacher had tried to do by telling the kids about the effect of climate change on the environment was to get them accustomed to the idea of being responsible, Renata doesn't take their word for it.
In a showdown between the teacher, principal Nippal and her, Renata's comments about how she will one day be able to afford a panda for every kid in her daughter's class, and how she would teach the teachers a lesson has Nippal and the teacher frustrated enough to call her Medusa of Monterey. After seeing how she treated her husband, followed by how she reacted to her daughter's panic attack, this description pretty much suits her.
While there is nothing wrong with being attached to one's hard earned money, Renata's attachment clearly indicates how much support she seeks from her bank balance to show confidence. The fact that she was ostracized for being a career woman, who worked hard and made it to the cover of some impressive magazines also plays a part in her reaction to the debacle of her husband's arrest. She was not this worried when she was called in for questioning by the police regarding Perry Wright's death. However, she exploded when she realized that her husband had gambled with his life savings over his work. This explains Renata's core character in a nutshell -- it is not murder, even an accidental one at that, which would break her - it is poverty.