The Truth In “Big Little Lies”

by Rocio Tijeras
Taylor Magazine Minimalist guide to life

The TV miniseries called Big Little Lies is based on a book written by Liane Moriarty. It has been brought to the screen in the form of just seven episodes, interpreted by great actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon or Zoë Kravitz.

This is a drama portrayed by strong independent women who all have a secret, each and every one of them. The scenario where this all takes place -Monterey, California- is extremely beautiful and shows the lives of wealthy families, with their ups and downs, their daily stresses, their high-class worries. This amazing setting, its beaches and beautiful people, has led some critics to compare the show to Desperate Housewives. What a terrible mistake that is! This series does not portray superficial people – it’s about violence, love, family, friendship. Its women have been empowered and given the possibility to be the stars, the main characters in the show -something that is, unfortunately, not that common nowadays.

Men in the show are not less important, they are not thrown into the shadows in order to not take the light from their partners. These male characters are strong, supporting. They are living (well, acting, yes) proof that being a strong husband or partner or male friend does not mean being controlling or making decisions for you. They show how their manliness is better proved in their respect and support for their partners. Well, almost all men in this show behave this way. No spoilers ahead, but I’m sure you know who I’m talking about!

This idyllic community shows a brave new world -pun intended- in which all women can be strong, pretty, nice to their friends, understanding to their kids… but faulty at the same time. They try so hard to put masks on to not let others see their weaknesses, their worries, their insecurities… and life teaches them that hiding will not help them at all. That the only way to live a full and happy life is to be real, show your vulnerabities, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

And, you know the good thing about how this is being portrayed both in the show and the novel? It does not judge – at all. They will be giving us details, now and then, about someone’s past or a divorce or how they treat their kids or partners, about faithfulness, about hiding from the ones we care most. And still, no judgment at all. Not one of those women are perceived as good or evil as a whole, they are just human beings trying to do their best with that they are given.

These people fight, dream, cry, suffer, love, hate, plan, discover, accept, admit. And they all do that in front of the sea, the ocean, the magnificent beaches that are just a few steps away from their living rooms. They all turn to the sea when in danger or stress, when in need of a good run or a walk or some answers. They look for a nurturing figure who can brush their pains away. The sea is presented as, yet another, motherly figure. But one from Mother Nature itself. The waves come in tides, just as their anger or rage or love or need to be loved and understood. They cannot lie looking at the waves – the sea is the representation of the womb, of a time when you were just a baby being carried by your mother and had no worries, no problems to solve, no secrets that were eating you alive. They turn to the sea to show what their true selves are, in their quest for a bigger figure that could make them be reborn, free once and for all from their sins and past mistakes.

One of the breaking points in Big Little Lies is how empathy was the answer to all their questions, the solution to all of their problems. As the Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard has more than once explained, both in his books and his conferences, empathy is affective resonance with someone else. And we are all moved by empathy, that is within us and makes us behave daily in a way that cannot be explained by reason. We try to help others because we are gregarious and could not live outside of the community. We find pleasure in seeing others happy, and are also benefited from the people surrounding us being healthy, happy and strong. Thus, if all the characters in the show would take a minute to try and walk a mile in others shoes, they would truly get their worries and how to help them. Empathy is how they are able to understand the adolescent kid, the shy one, the bully, the supportive one, the worried husband, the uptight neighbor. We are all fighting battles nobody knows about, so the best way to get past our shields is to try and connect to others.

Empathy is what is lacking in Celeste’s life, one that shines so much from the outside that nobody can imagine what it really hides between closed doors. She is such a strong and powerful woman, one that has been put in a corner by an aggressive partner whose own insecurities make him unable to love, make him try to break her in order to never lose her. She has given up everything that she is in order to please him but it is not enough – it is never enough. All females in the show have different situations, jobs, obligations… but this is the only one whose life has been planned and defined for her. We have the opportunity to see a victim’s life through her own eyes, making her worries and doubts our own. She is unable to confess to her friends, but in the end is surprisingly saved by the woman we least expect to be there for the group. This proves you cannot judge a book by its cover and we can always rely on others kindness when in need to be saved. If we open up, there will be kind people around us trying to stick our broken pieces back together. Faith in others is crucial.   

There is a very powerful and positive message you get by the end of the show, and that is: love will heal the world. This miniseries, written, produced and mainly performed by women, brings us hope in a time when we most need it. They all end up together, by the sea, running and playing around the shore. The sea has finally helped them to reunite, be reborn, start their new lives in full understanding of those surrounding them. We don’t all have to be the same – we just need to be understanding and unite in order to be able to fight the bullies, the violent, those who will try to bring us apart to destroy us.

It is not just a show about women empowerment, it is about how we human beings would all benefit from empathy, love and the belief in a better world where we as a group can work as a kryptonite for the evil surrounding us. Everything is possible – if you believe.

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