The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
By Samaria Johnson
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We live in an age where television feels the need to be as exciting as possible. Shonda Rhimes has essentially made an empire off of killing at least one character per season on each of her hit shows. Reality show contestants need to be both naked and afraid. There’s at least three crime shows on at any given time because you’ll never guess how this murder was committed!
The first six episodes of Big Little Lies seemed to be following this format to a T. Starting off with a murder, but the audience doesn’t know neither who died nor who killed them? Making the executive decision to show Nicole Kidman’s tits at least once per episode? A soundtrack suspiciously devoid of any Top 40 songs? Classic television clickbait.
But what happened next in BLL wasn’t a race to see which plotline could cause a spike in ratings—instead, the show delved into a character study about forming and maintaining healthy relationships. The characters dealt with a plethora of problems, including affairs, abuse and PTSD. It wasn’t an after-school special about how these issues should be handled; there was never a defined Right Way to handle a situation. No one strived for perfection and instead just wanted for there to be a sense of normalcy. Everyone made mistakes, but the mistakes weren’t punishments. The dark comedy-drama managed to be the perfect amount of each genre, ensuring that nothing ever got too preachy, and it was able to do so by making sure it was clear how each of the characters was highly aware of their own actions.
The final message of the show was loyalty, not friendship. Throughout the run of the series, the tumultuous relationship between the main five women in the show was set so that the audience would believe that they could never all get along under any circumstances. It literally took a murder for them to stand on common ground, and, even then, it’s not like any two characters became best friends. They united for a mutual understanding (people don’t let other people get abused) and not to work out all of the differences that they had.
Technically, nothing was actually nicely resolved at the conclusion of the show. The audience gets an immediate sense of relief knowing that Celeste is free from her abusive husband, but once the dust settles then it’s easy to see how many uncertainties still remain. Is Madeline still married to Ed? Will Bonnie ever acknowledge the weird racial tension surrounding her? Is Celeste’s son going to follow in his father’s footsteps? Will Jane tell Ziggy about his conception? Will Madeline’s daughter sell her virginity after all? Does anyone actually like Renata?
The ending, as The New Yorker puts it, is cathartic at best.
But also—does it matter?
Any more Big Little Lies will be too much Big Little Lies.
We don’t need to know any of the answers to the questions above. We don’t want to know any of the answers because that would mean that we’re searching for meaning in a television show about rich white people with ambiguous moral values. Were you expecting for Reese Witherspoon to deliver the solution to all of your problems in the form of an HBO show? What guidance are you looking for?
Television can be made to make sure that it’s all you talk about for the next three days. But it can also be made to tell a story. Like life, it comes to a definitive, hard stop, regardless of whether everything is neatly resolved or not. There will still be unanswered questions. Not everything will be perfect. Maybe, if you’re lucky, then everything will just be okay.
Big Little Lies told the narrative of a group of wealthy women living in a California town. It showed the consequences that came from their actions and taught us that no matter how people feel about you, there are at least some circumstances where someone will have your back.
And that’s it.
That’s the end.