Joey Moser makes an elegant plea to let Big Little Lies rest with one perfect, pointed freshman season. What do you think?
This essay contains spoilers to tonight’s finale of Big Little Lies. You’ve been warned.
The critically lauded HBO limited series Big Little Lies concluded this evening, and no one is sadder to see it go than me. When I first heard about this project, I picked up Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel and tore through it. I knew it was going to be a delicious series, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s deviously plotted, and there are actresses galore doing their best work (we all literally can’t stop talking about it on the podcast). But while I could devour this show on a weekly basis until the end of time, it’s time to let it go. Let Big Little Lies end so we can remember it for how great it is. Has our “gimme gimme” nature of streaming television ruined our ability to treasure anything?
When something comes to an end, we want to hold on to it, but we suffer separation anxiety. It’s hard enough to wait for a show to come back after a season finale, but, with most shows, we are at least comforted with knowing our favorite program will return. We just have to wait a few short months, right? Big Little Lies hits it out of the park for many reasons, but please let it end. I beg you, HBO producers, don’t let there be any more seasons.
The reason I fear the show is going to continue is because of the last sound we hear in the final episode. Detective Adrienne Quinlan (played by Merrin Dungey) has been flicking open her Zippo lighter every time we see her, and its incessant metal clicking in the final moments insinuates that she’s still watching Madeline, Celeste, Renata, Bonnie, and Jane as they play with their children on the beach. After the murder at trivia night, Quinlan’s instincts tell her that that these women are lying, but her colleague tells her to let it go. Is it director Jean-Marc Vallee’s intention to hint at a revival, or is he simply letting us know that these women couldn’t possibly get away with covering up the violent death in a quiet seaside town?
The sadness over Big Little Lies ending is getting pretty loud. There’s a Change.org petition going around (how much of it is a joke, I’m not sure), and Entertainment Weekly voiced their demand for more episodes in this week’s Bullseye section at the back of the magazine. Sorry, folks, but this is such a contained story that there shouldn’t be any more episodes.
Maybe people are dying for more, because the end of the series does let a few things dangle. How does Celeste feel after the violent death of her husband? How does she move on with her two twin boys? Do Madeline and Ed repair their marriage? Does she tell him about her infidelity with Joseph (a storyline added for the series)? On the podcast this week, we did mention how disappointed over the omission of Bonnie’s back story, and her abusive past does link the story even deeper. By this point, why aren’t you purchasing Moriarty’s novel on Amazon? The series is fantastic on so many levels, but reading the book truly enhances your understanding of where this adaptation goes. The book and the series don’t exist as separate entities like so many other book-to-screen transfers. They truly enhance each other.
One of the great things about the series is the consistent directorial tone of it. Some people don’t like how he pulls the viewers back into reality repeatedly, but it feels like he’s harnessed every character’s memories, fantasies, and subconscious to create the look of Big Little Lies. His vision weaves together how these women remember things and how they wish events would transpire without making it hokey or lame. When Suzanne Bier directed all 6 episodes of The Night Manager last season (and won an Emmy for it, thank you very much), the consistency was there as well. I shudder at the prospect of another director handling these characters or trying to continue the story.
How would a second season even work? Would there be another high-profile crime in Monterey? This isn’t Desperate Housewives (that’s not a knock—everyone knows I miss Wisteria Lane). I originally thought that the show was an 8 part series, not 7. Maybe we just need another hour with these characters, but don’t greenlight another separate season.
We are allowed to run around in a candy store and stuff our faces with sugar, so when a delicious main course like Big Little Lies comes around, we expect to have all of it too.
The landscape of television has changed drastically in the span of 5 years. When something ends, we immediately have something else to binge and devour. When that ends, there’s something else for us to chew on. And on and on and on. No wonder we want more of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern. How we wait for shows is different too. The first season of Stranger Things came out all at one time, but it feels like those kids will never go away. Sure, they need to maintain buzz and interest between seasons since all the episodes come out at one time, but it feels like I’m being assaulted by it. Let us miss you. It also feels like anything is possible with television when it comes to where shows live. You want more Full House after two decades? You got it, dude! Sad The Mindy Project got cancelled at FOX? Dry those eyes—Hulu’s got you covered. We are kind of spoiling ourselves. We are allowed to run around in a candy store and stuff our faces with sugar, so when a delicious main course like Big Little Lies comes around, we expect to have all of it too.
It’s not that this “moremoremoremoremore” is the only reason why we are sad over the end of the show. Big Little Lies is fucking great. Witherspoon, Kidman, and Dern are turning in career best performances with big, messy, thoughtful characters. Between this, Feud: Bette and Joan, Shots Fired, American Horror Story, and American Crime, we are truly living in the age of women in television.
It’s better that Big Little Lies goes out on top rather than let it continue misguided. You can rightfully mourn the end of the show. I know I will be devastated next week when I don’t have a new episode to watch. We will get through this together.