Murder stories are a dime a dozen, ranging from some of the almost unbearably trite series on the old networks to the compelling Nordic and kindred noir series streaming on Netflix and Amazon. In view of those superb binge-watchable programs, I'm sometimes moved to say that the cutting edge of television has already passed from cable to streaming services.
But Big Little Lies proves otherwise, and at very least shows that HBO can still come up with a unique kind of story. For starters, here we are after two episodes, and we still don't know who the victim is, let alone the killer. HBO is showing that it can still put up a whodunnit with the best of 'em, without not only an identifiable body but a name. Other series - such as The Affair - have woven a little of this into their stories. In Big Little Lies, it's the whole story, or at least, one of two of them.
And the star power, especially regarding the women, is incandescent. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and the lesser-known Shailene Woodley are just superb, conveying a range of nuance not often found in a television series, especially not one about a murder.
But Iain Armitage, who plays a boy who at this point is accused only of grabbing a little girl by the neck, puts in a stellar performance, too. So much so that, although I think he's being wrongly accused, I wouldn't quite bet the house on it, yet. (But if I had to bet, my wife and I think the culprit is likely one of Celeste's - Nicole Kidman's - twin boys - which would follow from their having a physically abusive father.)
That incident at school, by the way, is the second story I alluded to earlier. But everything's intricately connected and woven together on Big Little Lies, and I'm looking forward to more of this compelling David E. Kelley creation (who also does Amazon's Goliath, and goes back to great network drama such as The Practice), based on the novel by Liane Moriarty.