As usual, the star-studded cast of the HBO series “Big Little Lies” does an excellent job at capturing the nuances of family dynamics and the role separation can have on them in Season 2, Episode 2.
In this episode, Laura Dern’s character Renata would have benefited from a marital agreement. In this plot-heavy episode, her husband gets arrested for insider trading. Renata is a successful Silicon Valley board member, but the FBI opening an investigation into her husband puts her at risk of losing everything. This just goes to show that you can be powerful and in control on the surface, but when push comes to shove, you are still systematically vulnerable without a marital agreement.
This episode also highlights how difficult it is to continue parenting through a separation. Renata’s second-grade daughter, Amabella, collapses on the floor of her classroom. She’s rushed to the hospital, where Renata is told her daughter has had an anxiety attack. To add insult to injury, the doctor suggests counseling after observing Renata – not just for Amabella, but for the whole family.
Also in this episode, Madeline, Reese Witherspoon’s character, ends up accidentally revealing the year-long affair she had with the theater director to her husband Ed (played by Adam Scott). A major theme of the show is that parenting and marriage are nuanced and difficult, and this episode stays true to those themes. The show perfectly captured how nuanced the love that Madeline and Ed share is – real life is complex, and even people who have affairs often still love and care for their partners. The two are far less mutually exclusive than a more reductive show might portray.
If you’re going through a divorce, it might help to remind yourself every now and then that feelings of love aren’t always reflected in actions. Marital strife touches the whole family, and if you’re struggling, you are not alone.