HBO’s “Big Little Lies” follows housewives & mothers who sip chardonnay in Monterey

The cast of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” (L-R) Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern. (photo credit: Jennifer Clasen/HBO)

 What are you waiting for? The new season of Big Little Lies is underway on HBO and Meryl Streep is now part of the stellar cast to continue the little tale about housewives and mothers who sip their chardonnay in Monterey.

Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz, who called themselves the “Monterey Five,” have returned for the follow up to HBO’s 2017 miniseries Big Little Lies, which was a complicated murder mystery for Season One.

Now all that star power is back for Season Two, which now puts the focus on the cover-up by some heartbreaking characters who create a compelling human drama. Big Little Lies 2 proves the bottled up emotions of the chardonnay sipping “Monterey Five” is still intoxicating and viewers are falling under their influence.

 Based on Liane Moriarty’s best-seller set in the idyllic beachside community, the story was going to end after seven episodes. But with all the accolades heaped upon the show, plus the Emmys, SAG, AFI, Producers Guild, Television Critics Association, Critics Choice, and Golden Globe awards, with wins and nominations for the program, directing, writing, actor and actresses, in addition to a bunch of technical honors—how could HBO just walk away from such a powerhouse production? 

 So now the much anticipated Season Two of Big Little Lies (premiered Sunday, June 9) hopes to build upon the tremendous success by mixing three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep into the main cast as Nicole Kidman’s mother-in-law. Streep has the role of Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgard), the victim of a fatal “accident” at the end of Season One.

 Streep joined her castmates and producers for the HBO panel at the Television Critics Association’s winter 2019 press tour. On hand for the interviews: Reese Witherspoon, Executive Producer, and stars as Madeline Mackenzie; Nicole Kidman, Executive Producer and stars as Celeste Wright; Shailene Woodley who stars as Jane Chapman; Laura Dern, as Renata Klein; Zoë Kravitz, as Bonnie Carlson; Meryl Streep, as Mary Louise Wright; and David E. Kelley, Big Little Lies’ creator-writer-executive producer.

 Francesca Orsi, Exec-VP for HBO Programming, boasted about the show becoming a cultural phenomenon, “bravely encouraging a global discussion about domestic violence, bullying and rape. Never did we dream that we could reassemble this caliber of talent, for a second season, to continue the story of what happens to Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Renata and Bonnie, after that fatal night at the school fundraiser. Thanks to a gorgeous emotional story by David E. Kelley and Liane Moriarty, we get to spend more time with the ‘Monterey Five,’ as they find themselves caught up in a massive collective lie, that has lasting repercussions for them all.”

 Streep claimed she was addicted to the show the first season and agreed to do the second season without even reading the script. She explained, “I loved this show. I thought it was an amazing exercise in what we know and what we don’t know about people, about family, about friends, how it flirted with the mystery of things. What was unsaid, unshown, unknown was sort of the pull, the gravitational pull of the piece. And it was so exciting. So, when I got the chance to join the crew, I thought, Yeah! I wanted to do it, to be in that world. The world that was created was amazing.”

 Talking about how the idea for a second season came together, Kidman said that after the first season “we all said our goodbyes, but we became very close, and we had such a good time doing it, and the desire to spend more time together was a huge part of it. Also, there was an enormous demand from the audience. I’ve never been in something that reached so far, globally. That was compelling, in terms of putting it together again, that we were like, ‘Okay.’ But it was very much generated by the actual audiences and the desire to see these people still in existence.” 

 Witherspoon handled a lot of duties with her production company Pacific Standard producing this show, but the dynamo star said there was always time for female camaraderie at the end of the day. Reese revealed she would always pay when the ladies gathered for a glass of wine and told each other stories.

 So this reporter asked them, “Who is the best storyteller among you?” The ladies were unanimous with their answer. In perfect harmony they all chirped, “Meryl.” Reese said, “Meryl tells incredible stories.” And Nicole insisted, “We will go to the grave with all of these stories, I gotta tell you.” Meryl just beamed, “What happens in Monterey, stays in Monterey.”

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.