'Big Little Lies' Season 2: Everything We Know
HBO’s 2019 schedule did not come to play. The network confirmed today that the long-awaited second season of Big Little Lies will premiere in June, right after the final season of Game of Thrones wraps up.
Per the official synopsis, the second season 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.”
The seven-episode second series will see the Monterey Five— Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern) and Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz)—return, while Meryl Streep joins the cast as Celeste’s mother-in-law, who visits Monterey following the mysterious death of her son in Season 1’s finale.
All five lead actresses appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Friday (February 8), alongside series creator David E. Kelley and Meryl Streep (!!!!!!!), and hinted at what’s to come. Here’s everything you need to know about Season 2 of Big Little Lies.
1) The #MeToo movement helped persuade the cast to return for Season 2.
Season 1 of Big Little Lies aired months before the Harvey Weinstein revelations would spark a revolution in Hollywood, and Reese Witherspoon revealed the collision of the show and the movement made a second season feel more vital. “We had no idea it was going to converge with this moment of women ascending to be leaders and stepping up and talking about their experiences,” she said. “I do think that’s part of the reason we felt a Season 2 was not just great as an experience, but great to talk about: Now what? We’ve talked about trauma, we’ve experienced trauma, we see each other’s trauma, but how do we cope with it? How do we go on?”
2) Meryl was as obsessed with the show as you were last season.
“I loved this show, I was addicted to it,” Streep admitted. “I thought it was an amazing exercise in what we know and what we don’t know about people, and I loved the way it flirted with the mystery of things. What was unsaid, unshown, unknown, was sort of the gravitational pull of the piece. So when I got the chance to join the crew, I thought ‘Yeah!’ I wanted to be in that world.” As for the deeply complex relationship between Streep’s character Mary Louise and her daughter-in-law Celeste, Streep would only say “I do love her. That’s the only thing I’ll tell you about my character.”
3) The season is built around The Lie shared by the Monterey Five.
Despite the title of the show, the new season is built around a single, huge lie: The murder of rapist and abuser Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) by Kravitz’s Bonnie, which the five women mutually agreed to cover up. “Will the lie have a life?” Kelley said, describing the thrust of Season 2. “What impact does that have on the equation of these friendships, relationships, marriages? There was a lot of fertile storytelling ground to be mined [after Season 1].” Though there was some trepidation about continuing the show after the success of the first season, Kelley said they waited until every single member of the cast felt confident in the material before finalizing Season 2. “There’s a fault line through all of it, which is this event that happened on Trivia Night, and once the crevices start to widen, it escalates pretty quickly,” Kelley teased.
4) One major element of Season 1 will not return.
Namely, the “Greek chorus” of Monterey neighbors delivering gossipy exposition about the show’s character via police interviews. “We don’t have the Greek chorus this year,” Kidman revealed, before nervously turning to Kelley to ask, “Am I allowed to say that?” Kelley expanded on the decision to do away with this more comedic element: “We felt that last year with the Greek chorus, with each episode we wanted that to go away a little bit. It was a way of informing the audience on the world and the characters, but once the show intensified, you want to live and breathe in that intensity. Tonally, Season 2 is still a mix of comedy and drama, but it’s probably more dramatic.”
5) New director Andrea Arnold brings a crucial “female gaze” to the new season.
Last season’s director Jean-Marc Vallee did not return to direct Season 2, and was instead replaced by acclaimed film director Andrea Arnold. “It was interesting having a woman [direct],” Kidman said. “You talk about the male gaze and the female gaze, and now we have a woman behind the camera, and the way she enters into all of us is different, as you’ll see.” Kelley added that Arnold “really mines the emotional center of character and story and you feel like you’re jumping into the trench with your characters,” Kelley added. “She’s really raw and honest with the approach toward emotion.”
6) Season 2 will explore the experience of recovery through Jane’s story.
Now that her rapist Perry is dead, Shailene Woodley said that Jane is grappling with how to carry on. “In Season 1, she had this idea of who this person was, this ghost in her closet, this demon that haunted her constantly. Her idea was always that if she could kill the man or get rid of the man, she could be free and able to move forward … Now she’s able to work on the other side of that trauma, and what does it look like once the ghost in her closet is gone? How does she move forward in a way that’s healthy for her and her son?”
7) There are no plans for a season three.
But as Kidman pointed out, that’s what they said last time! “There is no such plan now,” Kelley confirmed. “I think we like where we close at the end of Season 2, so that will probably be it.” Kidman added that Season 2 was “a long shoot for us, an enormous amount of work, and we’re just amazed that we can be here. [Season 2] is its own entity and hopefully it will be taken in that way. It was made with an enormous amount of love.”
8) We’ll learn a more about Renata (Dern) and Bonnie (Kravitz).
Kidman, an executive producer on the show, said Season 2 will dive deeper into Bonnie’s story in a way Season 1 didn’t: “Bonnie’s character wasn’t explored to the degree that it was in the book, so it gets a greater chance to be explored.” Plus, Renata will finally experience what it’s really like to have friends. “I just want to say how happy I was going to work every day, because I had other people to talk to,” Dern joked, with Witherspoon adding, “It’s really cute to see Dern—Dern’s character is so excited that she has girlfriends! And she wants to hang out, and drink wine.” Kravitz also chimed in: “She kind of doesn’t know how to do it.”
Plus, here’s what we knew before the TCA panel:
9) There will be at least six new characters in addition to Mary Louise.
The new characters include potential love interests, new employees at Otter Bay Elementary School, and Bonnie’s parents:
10) Alexander Skarsgard will probably make an appearance.
TVLine reported in January 2018 that Skarsgard is “expected to return in some capacity,” and while it seems likely these appearances will be exclusively flashbacks, Skarsgard teased a different theory on the Golden Globes red carpet. “I don’t even know if I’m really dead or not,” he coyly told People in January.” I feel okay right now but we’ll see.”
In September 2018, Skarsgard appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and confirmed he was on the set of Season 2 (per Town & Country): “I was on set but I can’t disclose what I did on set … Maybe I was acting. I might’ve just been moral support. I might’ve made coffee for the ladies. I might’ve helped Meryl Streep with her acting,” he said.
11) Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman will make $1 million per episode.
As stars and executive producers, Witherspoon and Kidman will each receive between around $1 million per episode for Season 2, a direct result of Witherspoon’s pricey Apple deal (she’ll reportedly receive $1.25 million per episode for her new 20-episode series with Jennifer Aniston), according to THR. Witherspoon and Kidman each received around $250,000 to $350,000 per episode for Season 1. Shailene Woodley, who made $1.7 million total for Season 1, will also get a raise, while Zoe Kravitz, who earned $380,000 for the show’s first run, will make $3 million total for Season 2.
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