To help all our diligent “Big Little Lies” fans navigate their way through the second season airing every Sunday night, the team at Atlanta Divorce Law Group launched a new blog series to extrapolate numerous family law themes addressed in the first season. Below is a condensed recap of the fourth episode “Push Comes to Shove.”
The fourth episode of “Big Little Lies” presents the audience with several themes related to family law, but the one we want to focus on is Emotional Abuse and Gaslighting. As we discussed in our recap of Episode 2, emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence. It is a pattern of behavior in which one partner/spouse tries to control the other. This can manifest in the form of insults, intimidation, pressuring the partner to do something they don’t want to do, causing the other partner to be fearful of doing/saying the wrong things, and/or isolating the other partner from their friends and family.
This brings us to gaslighting, which is a form of emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. A person who is “gaslighting” their partner is using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and/or lying in order to destabilize the other partner and retain control over the relationship. Gaslighting often causes the victim to lose their own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.
Whether intentionally or not, Perry is gaslighting Celeste in this episode. There are numerous examples in this episode. Perry refers to his wife in a spectrum of different and confusing ways; sometimes he calls her pet names like Sparkles or My Baby; sometimes he refers to her as a woman who lies and prioritizes her own wants over the happiness of her family. Perry exhibits classic examples of gaslighting by exaggerating the truth, using repetition, wearing out Celeste (mentally and physically), throwing in positive reinforcement to confuse her, and escalating (physically) when challenged.
In addition to emotional abuse and gaslighting, the other family law issues in this fourth episode include co-parenting (Madeline), the stigma of being a mom versus wanting more than motherhood (Celeste, Madeline, Renata), infidelity (Madeline), and potential substance abuse.