My big lit­tle hit

It’s not too late to catch up with Ni­cole Kid­man’s racy mur­der mys­tery Big Lit­tle Lies. It’s so ad­dic­tive you’ll be ready for Mon­day’s fi­nale in no time...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - NEWS - Iona Kirby Big Lit­tle Lies is on Mon­day at 9pm on Sky At­lantic.

T his has to be the steami­est show of the year. The jeal­ousy, de­ceit, sim­mer­ing rage, adul­tery and, quite frankly, pretty raunchy sex among the yummy mum­mies of an af­flu­ent beach com­mu­nity on the rugged Cal­i­for­nia coast are sur­pris­ing enough. But what’s made racy se­ries Big Lit­tle Lies such a talk­ing point is not just the sub­ject mat­ter, but the fact that it’s two Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters star­ring on the small screen – and one of them, Ni­cole Kid­man, takes her top off in just about ev­ery episode.

Based on the novel by Aus­tralian au­thor Liane Mo­ri­arty, it’s the brain­child of Ni­cole and Reese Wither­spoon, who pooled their in­di­vid­ual pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies to bring it to the screen. It fol­lows the for­tunes of five women and their fam­i­lies in the su­per-rich town of Mon­terey. Episode one started with a mur­der at a school fundrais­ing ball – but so far we don’t even know who died, let alone who did it.

Ni­cole’s por­trayal of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tim Ce­leste is ex­tra­or­di­nary, by turns siz­zling with pas­sion and seething with re­sent­ment at her abu­sive hus­band Perry. ‘The abuse scenes had to be au­then­tic,’ says Ni­cole. ‘We couldn’t use a stunt dou­ble. I’d be bruised all over af­ter­wards and there were nights when I’d go home and sit in the bath and cry.’

Reese plays Ce­leste’s best friend, strong-willed Madeline, while the cast also in­cludes Laura Dern as neu­rotic busi­ness­woman Re­nata, Shai­lene Wood­ley as less glam­orous sin­gle mother Jane, and Zoë Kravitz (Lenny’s daugh­ter) as Bon­nie, a yoga in­struc­tor now mar­ried to Madeline’s ex, Nathan. But at its heart it’s a re­ally per­plex­ing mys­tery. Any­one who’s en­joyed Agatha Christie will love that, while any­one who en­joyed the glossy lo­ca­tions in The Night Man­ager will be wait­ing for each episode not only to ap­pre­ci­ate the plot, but also to feast on the beauty of the dou­ble-fronted fridges! It’s not too late to catch up with all six pre­vi­ous episodes via Sky On De­mand or Now TV be­fore the iden­tity of the vic­tim – and the killer – is re­vealed in Mon­day’s fi­nale. Un­til then, here’s all you need to know...

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The se­ries cen­tres on a group of par­ents who all have chil­dren start­ing at the same ex­clu­sive pri­mary school. It opened with a mur­der dur­ing the school’s Hep­burn & Elvis-themed ball, be­fore rewind­ing to in­tro­duce us to the chain of events that led up to the crime. En­ter Jane, a sin­gle mother new to the area who is taken un­der the wing of Madeline and Ce­leste. When Jane’s son Ziggy is ac­cused of try­ing to choke Re­nata’s daugh­ter on the first day of school, the dark se­cret in her past catches up with her.

But Jane’s not the only one hid­ing some­thing, and we soon learn more about these women’s se­crets as petty jeal­ousies and fam­ily rifts re­veal them­selves. ‘These char­ac­ters are not bad, they’re not good, they’re just who they are,’ says Reese. ‘I’ve been ev­ery woman in this show – mar­ried, divorced, sin­gle mother. I’ve had chil­dren with one hus­band and an­other with a sec­ond. So I re­lated to each char­ac­ter.’

THE HOT HUBBIES

Alexan­der Skars­gård brings the sex fac­tor to the male cast as de­spi­ca­ble Perry. But his co-stars are also send­ing hearts a-flut­ter. Adam Scott, Madeline’s hus­band Ed, has charmed au­di­ences with his sweet na­ture while her ex-hus­band Nathan (James Tup­per) brings a bad-boy el­e­ment. Jef­frey Nordling, who plays Re­nata’s hus­band Gor­don, played schem­ing Nick Bolen in Des­per­ate Housewives.

THE STEAMY SEX SCENES

Big Lit­tle Lies doesn’t shy away when it comes to the sex and vi­o­lence be­tween Ce­leste and Perry. While some of Ni­cole’s scenes are quite har­row­ing, she has many risqué on-screen mo­ments such as when she per­forms a strip­tease for Perry via we­b­cam and when the cou­ple get raunchy in the shower, the kitchen and even in their walk-in wardrobe. There’s also a full-frontal from Alexan­der Skars­gård, and some racy love scenes for Reese Wither­spoon and Laura Dern too.

SO WHO MUR­DERED WHO?

In­trigu­ingly, all the par­ents could be mur­der­ers – or vic­tims. A pop­u­lar the­ory is that Perry will die, the killer be­ing any of the cen­tral play­ers. But we’re not even sure if it’s a man who dies. Madeline has the po­ten­tial to snap and mur­der Re­nata, Nathan or Bon­nie, or be­come the vic­tim at the hands of ei­ther of the two women. Nathan might lose it with Ed, but Ed’s also reach­ing boil­ing point and may go for Nathan. Or will Jane get re­venge for her past?

WILL THERE BE MORE?

The in­evitable ques­tion is will there be an­other se­ries, set ei­ther be­fore the first or af­ter it? Reese has been talk­ing to screen­writer David E Kel­ley, who adapted the book for se­ries one. Ni­cole’s in favour too. ‘There prob­a­bly needs to be a sea­son two,’ she’s said. ‘There are so many deep sto­ries ripe for min­ing.’

Watch this space...

Ni­cole as Ce­leste with Reese as Madeline. Right: Ni­cole with Alexan­der Skars­gård as her hus­band Perry and their chil­dren

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