Fans of the HBO hit show Big Little Lies have likely heard by now – season two of the award-winning drama will premiere on June 9th. Now is the perfect time to start your re-watch and catch your favorite moments in the complicated lives of Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, we are also excited about the new, upcoming season. To help you unpack some of the interpersonal issues in season one, we have launched a new, weekly blog series that recaps the plots and explored the family law themes in Big Little Lies. (Click here to read our first blog about episode one “Somebody’s Dead”). Please be aware, if you have not seen season one yet, there are major spoilers ahead! Also, it is important to note that many of the plot lines and themes are for mature audiences.
Big Little Lies Season One – Episode Two “Serious Mothering”
PLOT: We begin episode two with a re-visit of the crime scene and the Greek chorus (AKA the residents of Monterey) trying to amateur sleuth their way through the list of murder suspects. Main characters Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are favorite topics of gossip and conversation. The episode then jumps to the day after Otter Bay School orientation. Jane wakes up from a series of nightmares involving a hotel, cocktails, and tearful running along a beach. She spends the morning trying to convince her son Ziggy (who was accused of biting another student) to go to school. At Madeline’s house, as she gets the kids ready for school, Madeline discusses the roadblocks she’s been dealing with as a producer on a local production of the play Avenue Q. In the car with Celeste, her husband Perry, and their twin sons, Perry gets extremely upset when he learns that school orientation happened the day prior and not on the first day of school as he thought. After returning home, the argument leads to a physical fight between Perry and Celeste, which then morphs into an aggressive and violent sexual encounter.
At Otter Bay School, the kids are given an assignment: design a poster of your family tree. This project will later become a sore spot for Madeline (who has a sometimes-functional blended family) and Jane (who refuses to tell Ziggy about his father, or neighbors about why she moved to Monterey). The students are also introduced to Harry the Hippo, the class mascot who will take turns going home with the different children.
After school, Madeline is abuzz with news – Renata has invited the entire class, with the exception of Ziggy, to Amabella’s birthday party. Madeline, angry about the party and frustrated with her ex-husband, calls Celeste and invites her to meet up for a drink. Celeste was in the process of talking to her kids about Ziggy and the biting incident; Celeste’s children both insist that Ziggy did not hurt Amabella. While having drinks, Celeste admits to Madeline that she and Perry’s violent episodes often lead to sex. Back at Celeste’s home we find that Perry has sent her apology flowers and that someone has ripped off Harry the Hippo’s leg.
The next morning, tempers flare at Madeline’s house after Madeline finds her daughter Abigail’s birth control. Abigail admits that Bonnie (Madeline’s ex-husband’s current wife) bought her the pills – which leads to a Madeline/Bonnie confrontation at the Otter Bay School drop-off. While Madeline attempts to cool off at a coffee shop with Celeste and Jane – Nathan (Madeline’s ex) and Ed (Madeline’s husband) meet in hopes of diffusing the tension between their families. The Nathan/Ed meeting goes disastrously wrong, with both men threatening each other and making the overall conflict even worse.
Shortly after coffee, Jane is called to Otter Bay School – along with Madeline, Nathan, Bonnie, and Renata. Apparently, in an attempt to solve the Amabella biting problem, Chloe (Madeline and Ed’s daughter) suggested that Ziggy should kiss Amabella. Most of the characters leave the parent-teacher meeting angry and frustrated; Jane breaks down into tears. Madeline returns home to have the you-know-it-was-going-to-be-awkward sex talk with her daughter Abigail. Meanwhile, Celeste ends her evening by calling Perry for long-distance laptop sex.
FAMILY LAW THEMES: As with episode one, Big Little Lies presents the audience with a number of family law themes. Today, we are focusing on issues related to domestic violence. This may be one of the first “big little lies” of the series – that Celeste and Perry outwardly appear to be “the perfect family” when in fact the couple is dealing with dangerous, violent, abuse. As we will learn in subsequent episodes, Perry often delivers the first physical blow, but both Perry and Celeste participate in the violence and the triggering of the other partner. Frequently, the physical fights devolve into very aggressive sex. The encounters are difficult to watch, but domestic violence is a family law issue that must be addressed.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that each year, close to three million Americans are victims of physical violence by a partner. Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, is defined as a pattern of behavior in which one partner in an intimate relationship (ex: marriage) tries to control the other partner. This control can manifest as insults, jealousy, intimidation, or isolation. Fear is also a common trait of domestic abuse; one partner is always fearful about doing or saying the wrong thing around their partner. For Celeste and Perry, the abuse is physical. But domestic violence can also be emotional, verbal, financial, or digital. It can also happen to anyone, no matter their gender, age, race, religion, relationship status, or sexual orientation. If you, or someone you know, is being abused by a partner, there are several resources available such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. Atlanta Divorce Law Group can also help the victim(s) in seeking a Temporary Protective Order (TPO).
In addition to domestic abuse, other family law themes in this second episode include how to balance shared custody and blended families (Madeline and Bonnie), the stigma of working mothers (Renata, Jane, Bonnie) vs. stay-at-home mothers (Madeline, Celeste), and the use (possible abuse?) of alcohol.
- Just in case the audience needs a reminder that Big Little Lies is a show exploring personal issues and secrets, we have Madeline looking at the ocean behind her home and saying, “Who knows what lies out there beneath the surface?” We will soon find that out.
- Did anyone else have mixed reactions when Amabella asked her teacher is Harry the Hippo wanted to be hugged? Is this a product of her education, her recent experience being bitten by another student, or is Amabella just a super sensitive child?
- Nathan makes fun of Ed by calling him “Steady Eddie” but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a dependable and calming force in your family. Ed is quickly becoming a favorite in the Big Little Lies collection of characters.
- It was interesting to hear Celeste recommend that Madeline see a counselor about her family issues, when Celeste should very clearly be taking her own advice. Why can Celeste so easily talk about therapists to others, but is not seeking that help for herself?
- Perhaps this is something that will be further explained or unpacked in the series, but it confusing and shocking to see a woman both so afraid of and so sexually aroused by her husband.
Be sure to check out our blog next week, as we discuss Big Little Lies episode three “Living the Dream.” In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs help with your family law case, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (678) 929-5719 or via our website.