TV Review: Big Little Lies: ‘You Get What You Need’

Big Little Lies

S1, E7: ‘You get what you need’

Pride goeth before a fall

Grade: B




Hmmmmm. Interesting. After the ratcheting tension of the previous episodes, this one felt oddly flat, even with all its revelations. Let’s go character by character.

  • Madeline Martha Mackenzie: is slut-shamed by her adulterous lover and goes into a spiral of boozy self-loathing self-pity. It’s not the best look on her, I’m afraid. #Winning score: 4/10.
  • Renata Klein: finds out who bullied her child (more on that later), is defended – in a 75% gross manner – by her husband, and is finally accepted into the Inner Mom Circle. #Winning score: 7/10.
  • Jane Chapman: gets closure with her rapist (more on that later), finds out who bullied Amabella Klein (more on that later, but of course it isn’t Ziggy), is menaced by Renata Klein’s husband, and is getting her groove back with the only heterosexual man in Otter Bay who isn’t at least a little skeevy: Tom the Coffee Shop Guy! #Winning score: 9/10.
  • Celeste Wright: goes from getting the shit kicked out of her by her husband to moving into her own place with the boys. Has a minor setback when Jane finds out that Amabella was being bullied by one of her children, but is fully and finally rid of her husband. #Winning score: 8/10.
  • Perry Wright: discovers that his wife is leaving him and that his children have witnessed enough of his abuse for one of them to become a bully himself, attempts to plead with/manipulate his wife into staying and saving him from the ‘monster’ inside him that makes him hurt her, and is interrupted by the Kleins – an interruption his wife makes use of to escape. Loses sight of wife at school fundraiser. Chases after her only to come face-to-face with the woman he raped. Snaps so completely that he lashes out at his wife in plain view of three other outraged women (Madeline, Jane and Renata), who set on him in the show’s most obvious visual distillation of its thesis statement to date. Oh, you know what? Make that four women. Because Bonnie, who has watched Perry narrowly throughout the fundraiser, appears out of nowhere and pushes Perry off a flight of stairs, to his doom. #Winning score: Better than he deserved.

I thought that the framing mystery did a disservice to the show’s razor-sharp depiction of marital abuse, and the bog-standard bitchiness of the Greek Chorus detracted from the subtlety of characterisation of its main characters. The final episode honestly suffered because it needed to snap into mystery mode, which is why I’m coarser in my criticism than I would have liked to be.

Still, all in all, a satisfyingly earnest, intelligent exploration of dysfunction, and heavens to Murgatroyd but there better be some attention for Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard come awards time.

Personal scorecard

  • Murder victim: I think I speculated that it may be Perry, so I’m happy to give myself that one.
  • Murderer: Okay, where the hell did Bonnie come from? I understand her motivation is spelled out in the book, but this was completely out of the blue for me.
  • Jane’s rapist: Called it!
  • Amabella’s bully: Called that one too.
  • What the deal is with Abigail and Ed: huh, apparently nothing. Then why the hell does the episode open with Ed confirming that Abigail’s virginity-auctioning site hasn’t gone live? Ed’s not right, you guys.


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