HBO’s Big Little Lies just had its second season finale this week, and my husband and I both had to pick our jaws up off the floor at the season-ending cliffhanger. If you’re anything like us, you fell in love with the high-drama, unbelievably believable, intensely alluring show within the first few scenes of last season’s first episode.
Based upon the book of the same name by Lianne Moriarty, Big Little Lies appears on the surface to be a twisty drama about a bunch of rich ladies living, working, and parenting in the ritzy town of Monterey, California. And while that alone would be enough to have me (and the rest of the country) rapt, there’s something deeper going on that struck me, and stuck with me, from the start.
Big Little Lies is not only about affairs and domestic violence, gossip, money, or even murder. It’s about the very real, and very important bonds of female friendship. And how, especially among mothers, these relationships can truly be a life line in our darkest moments.
Even though last season didn’t reveal the more recently nicknamed “Monterey Five” finally forming the girl gang we were all rooting for until the very end, I’ve always viewed them as a neatly curated little mum squad. Each with an easily pegged “type” that only scratches the surface of her unique personality, but still earns her a label we could all slap onto a friend in our own lives.
While most of us probably don’t have quite this much drama in our lives (or such incredible ocean views outside our kitchen windows!), it’s only natural to relate the mums of Big Little Lies in our own mum groups from coast to coast. Here’s my assessment of who’s who:
Madeline is the Keep-it-Together Mum, even when her own stuff is falling apart. She arrives in a timely manner and wears a smile in front of the kids. There is a craft or baked good happening in her house at all times, and she volunteers at school. We all know that mum who lives in leggings and makes them look amazing, who figures out a way to make school officials bend to her will thanks to her disarming wit and charm. When Madeline’s facade of perfection starts to crack, we all feel for her. Because let’s face it, no one can keep it all together, all the time. But she sure does try, and we’re rooting for her on her way back up to the top.
Jane is the Young Mum, who probably would be hanging out with other young, cool people right now if she hadn’t had kids early in life. I’ve always had at least one of these unicorns in my mummy friend group at any given time, and I can tell you first hand they’re gold. Jane works hard to provide a good life for her son and offers wisdom beyond her years and experience, but she also dances barefoot on the beach in a wetsuit for no apparent reason and keeps us all guessing with a hot-and-heavy new romance in season two. Gotta have that friend to live through vicariously!
Celeste is the Quiet Warrior that every mum squad needs. By trade she’s a killer lawyer, at home she holds it down as a loving if stern twin-mom, and when it comes to her friendships, Celeste doles out advice and love in the same way: straight-up. Watching her suffer privately last season while keeping a tough exterior in public was hard, but this season Celeste comes back swinging in the most amazing way. It bears mentioning that our quiet warrior always looks put-together to the point of almost unfairness. I mean, whose eyeliner is that expertly done when they come to after accidentally driving on Ambien?
Renata is the Mother Bear, who works long hours in a constant push to create opportunity for her daughter. She is absolutely ruthless in the face of even the most minor assumption of opposition against Amabella. And this cutthroat mentality applies not only to her career, but to her friendships as well. She may be a tough nut to crack, but you want a friend like Renata in your corner, once you’ve won her over (which might take some time).
Bonnie is the Boho Mama, in her drapey cardigans and dreadlocks. She’s low-key, keeps a relaxed approach to discipline, and would be just about the only one any of the kids will allow to pick up them up from parties when they get to high school. Bonnie has an effortless beauty that certainly strikes some jealousy at turns, but she’s too humble and chill to ever intentionally do anything that invoke envy. This season we learn a lot more about her past and her pain over what happened at the end of last year, but despite all the tough stuff, Bonnie is just downright cool.