‘Big Little Lies:’ ‘Pretty Little Liars’ for Grown-Ups

By Jordan Reynolds, Highlighter Editor

HBO’s newest show has it all. A killer soundtrack, adorable child actors, Reese Witherspoon — what more could you ask for? “Big Little Lies,” an ensemble drama series, is as enticing as it is beautiful to watch, and the A-list cast lives up to their names.

The series opens with a homicide. Who, exactly, has died? We don’t know. Each episode takes place before the murder, with flashes forward to testimony from teachers, neighbors and other parents — testimony that verges on plain gossip.

Witherspoon, alongside with Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, comprise the main cast, brought together by the fact that their children all attend the same elementary school. Jane Chapman (Woodley) and her son Ziggy have just moved to Monterey, California, for the “private school at a public school price.” But right off the bat, there seems to be another reason — an elusive detail that reveals itself later on.

One of the greatest elements of the show is the music. Chloe, Madeline’s (Witherspoon) daughter, has dreams of owning a record label one day. Each time she plugs her phone into the AUX on the way to school it’s another great song. From Fleetwood Mac to Leon Bridges to Alabama Shakes, Chloe’s taste in music remarkably mature for someone her age.

The show deals with some heavy themes, including domestic violence and infidelity. However, it manages to do so in a meaningful way, never cheapening or sensationalizing as television shows have been known to do. The Freeform show “Pretty Little Liars” comes to mind — a show that is centered around a group of girls, a mysterious murder, and abundant drama  — yet “Big Little Lies” manages to correct the “Pretty Little Liars” formula. Where “Liars” is overdramatized, “Lies” is subtle. Where “Liars” invokes cheap plot twists, “Lies” lays the groundwork for a cohesive series.

Another distinctly tasteful element is the cinematography. It’s as though there’s a subdued filter over the entire show, softening the gorgeous ocean-scape that waits outside. Shots of the beach that hides in the backyard, as well as the rocky running path above that Jane frequents, emphasize the beauty that surrounds the town of Monterey.

“Big Little Lies” is currently available to stream on HBO GO. If you live in NYU housing, your NetID and password will allow you to stream for free.

Email Jordan Reynolds at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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