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  • Series Premiere Date: Feb 19, 2017
Big Little Lies Image
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 275 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The David E. Kelley adaptation of Liane Moriarity's novel of the same name about how seemingly perfect lives of three mothers of seven-years-old children--Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Jane (Shailene Woodley)--end with someone committing murder.
  • Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Jeff Korbelik
    Feb 21, 2017
    100
    Big Little Lies is a slow burn. The joy is watching Witherspoon, Kidman and Woodley really working Kelley’s scripts, especially Witherspoon, who just commands the small screen with her abilities.
  2. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Feb 6, 2017
    91
    The lessons learned from Big Little Lies won’t be as easily shaken. They lie not in discovering the truth, but in searching for it. And this is one damn addictive search.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeff Jensen
    Feb 11, 2017
    83
    Just when you worry the show is a pageant of ugly cliches about female rivalry, it gives you a poignant, nuanced scene to deepen the whole. ... Big Little Lies invests you in mysteries and the renewal and re-liberation of its women. Hopefully it can transcend to big little truths, too. [17 Feb 2017, p.50]
  4. 80
    There are times when you get so wrapped up in the private despair and public pettiness of Madeline, Renata, Celeste, Jane & Co. that when the series reminds itself to tend to its crime-puzzle elements, it suddenly seems less special. Big Little Lies is still a must-see because of its extraordinary actors, all of whom bring either new shadings to the sorts of characters they’ve played brilliantly before or show new sides of their talent.
  5. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Feb 16, 2017
    75
    Big Little Lies isn’t stitched tightly enough to be a truly great miniseries.
  6. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Feb 17, 2017
    70
    If not a triumphant return to form, Big Little Lies is the best new Kelley series in quite a while. It contains all of his considerable strengths (sharp and clever dialogue) and some his weaknesses (precious and labored moments). It is nothing less than fun, if never much more than that. But that's more than enough to keep you engaged and keep you watching.
  7. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Feb 7, 2017
    40
    The series might have worked better if it let the strong cast make the most of the troubled writing--good actors can elevate tired scripts and, in reverse, tamp down overly dramatic ones. But that Greek chorus of witnesses that props up the construction of the series undermines their work.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 33
  2. Negative: 5 out of 33
  1. Nov 26, 2018
    10
    The best mini series I have ever watched and I am very happy they decided to change it into a whole show with more than one season. TheThe best mini series I have ever watched and I am very happy they decided to change it into a whole show with more than one season. The writing and storyline is spectacular. It was funny but very dramatic. The cast all have stupendous performances especially Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård, and Zoë Kravitz. Expand
  2. Apr 3, 2017
    10
    I look forward to seeing this show every week. Really surprised this show did not get better reviews. Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon andI look forward to seeing this show every week. Really surprised this show did not get better reviews. Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman all put forth great performances. Not a fan of David Kelly, but here the writing is very well thought-out. A great mystery wrapped around a fluid story line and good performances. Expand
  3. Feb 20, 2017
    10
    'Big Little Lies' knows how to create mystery and keep us hooked on such interesting characters. The ladies steal the show and dominate with'Big Little Lies' knows how to create mystery and keep us hooked on such interesting characters. The ladies steal the show and dominate with grace, behaving like the camera is their passerelle. This is one of those examples of how to provoke the audience revealing just the necessary amount of information and make us wanting for more. Expand
  4. Mar 23, 2017
    8
    Gets better and better each episode after an underwhelming pilot. There are issues, like the 3-second cutaways to snarky witnesses that addGets better and better each episode after an underwhelming pilot. There are issues, like the 3-second cutaways to snarky witnesses that add very little to most episodes. But mostly, it's a showcase for some brilliant acting, particularly from Nicole Kidman. Expand
  5. Apr 6, 2017
    7
    I think a score in the 7-8 range is about right. As others have pointed out, the cast is both individually and collectively strong, as areI think a score in the 7-8 range is about right. As others have pointed out, the cast is both individually and collectively strong, as are most of the stories that weave together into the central mystery. The implosion of Celeste and Perry Wright’s marriage was as good a depiction of domestic abuse as I have seen, with Nicole Kidman more than earning the praise lavished on her and Alexander Skarsgård just as good in a less sympathetic part. Pretty much everyone was strong, in fact, though some of the character development was manipulative of the audience. Laura Dern, for example, had to be absolutely ghastly for most of the series then suddenly become sympathetic, and, though that amazing actress did her best with the reversal, it was a cheap trick. I also feel the series wasted a lot of talent: Santiago Cabrerra had little more to do than rock an ugly haircut and a narratively convenient secret, while Robin Weigert struggled to enliven the tired therapist-as-chorus trope. I’d actually rather see mediocrities in such forgettable roles.

    On the plus side, I do like cultural satire, so points for trying. I have no idea how good the satire is because I have no exposure to the 1% of Monterey, but it’s certainly in line with other media portraits. That said, I’d be very surprised if social class is fluid enough to admit a part-time bookkeeper/single mom to intimate friendship with ladies who lunch--or coffee. My neck of the woods hasn’t seen that kind of egalitarianism (or housing for a Jane Chapman in the neighborhood of a Celeste Wright) since the 1980s. But Americans do love to believe we can all be friends no matter what our bank accounts, don’t we?

    The retrospective structure of the series was good at the beginning; it certainly kept me watching long enough to invest in the characters. As the series went on, though, I found it less compelling. Solving the various mysteries was fun, but most of the solutions were pretty evident long before the big reveal. The one surprise at the end was, for me, another cheap shot, so narratively under-prepared that it was almost a deus ex machina.

    But the best example of all-over-the-place quality was the music. On one hand, what a lot of wonderful songs there were, starting with Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart.” Sometimes a little heavy-handed with a message (“Mama, I’m depending on you to tell me the truth”), the songs were nonetheless powerful. But the gimmick of little Chloe and her “curated” iPod was just silly, changing that poor child’s role into caricature. And I really didn’t enjoy the actors’ Elvising at all. Here we are, moments away from the event that has animated the entire series, and we have to listen to karaoke--good karaoke, to be sure, with backup singers and everything, but karaoke nonetheless. Portentous filler--though, to be fair, had I been a bit less sure what was going to happen, I might have minded less.

    All in all, a series worth watching, even if you’re not that interested in the foibles of wealthy west-coast parents. HBO has done a lot better, of course, but they’ve also done worse, especially lately. At least BIG LITTLE LIES is trying.
    Expand
  6. Jun 16, 2017
    7
    While the narrative structure of the show is frustrating at times, Big Little Lies shrouds its theme of togetherness and under a murderWhile the narrative structure of the show is frustrating at times, Big Little Lies shrouds its theme of togetherness and under a murder mystery amicably. The show is gorgeously directed, perfectly acted and ultimately cathartic. A big win for HBO. 7.5/10 Expand
  7. Feb 19, 2017
    0
    David Kelley has written some terrific scripts in the past, but this is really weak. Every moment feels clinched and recycled. And theDavid Kelley has written some terrific scripts in the past, but this is really weak. Every moment feels clinched and recycled. And the direction is abominable. With a cast full of remarkable actors, almost every moment feels self conscious and artificial. My condolences to the cast and the capable cinematographer. Expand

See all 33 User Reviews

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