By Joanna Robinson. Photos: Courtesy of HBO.
When HBO’s awards-friendly and addictive show Big Little Lies wrapped up its run of seven episodes, there was some mixed messaging about whether the intrigue in Monterey would continue for another season. The murder-mystery plot of Liane Moriarty’s book was all wrapped up, but some of the show’s stars—particularly Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern—indicated their interest in a second season. At the same time, director Jean-Marc Vallée and, reportedly, HBO, were dead set against another go. But now word from Moriarty herself indicates that the possibility for a second season is far more concrete than some wishful thinking from Dern and Witherspoon. We really should have known better than to underestimate them.
Speaking with Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Moriarty said that the producers of Big Little Lies (a group that includes stars Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman) have asked her to brainstorm ideas for a second season. “I have started to think about ways this could continue,” she admitted. “I wouldn’t write a new book, but perhaps a new story, and then we’ll see what happens.” Presumably, given that the enthusiastic cast is the driving force behind a potential second season, this wouldn’t turn into a new-town-new-cast-new-murder anthology series like True Detective, American Crime Story, or, potentially, The Night Of. (Riz Ahmed, the star of the latter, recently confirmed on the Empire podcast that should that hit HBO series return, his character would not be a part of it.)
So we should expect that whatever plots Moriarty might be cooking up, Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Bonnie, and Renata will all return—and the idea of that reunion is understandably alluring. Even the opposed-to-Season 2 Vallée has said: “If there’s an opportunity to re-unite with Reese, Nicole, and these characters, of course, I’ll be a part of it.” Witherspoon was moved to tears at the Televisions Critics Association Winter Press Tour when talking about Big Little Lies as an unusual opportunity for several women to get meaty parts, especially in a film and TV industry enamored with stories driven by men. Kidman agreed, saying it’s “rare to find five roles in a piece that we would all jump to play.”
But while the desire to get the band back together is understandable, it’s tricky to conceive of a plot that would rival Season 1’s. Will there be another murder? Is Monterey the new Cabot Cove? Or will these five women grapple with lower-key issues the second time around? It’s hard to imagine that Big Little Lies could go more dramatic—and it’s equally hard to picture fans of the first season’s twisty reveals being satisfied with a tamer second installment.
In other words, perhaps the best idea Moriarty could come up with is to have no idea at all. Movements to get a second season of what should be a stand-alone series have become an alarming trend. Refusing to learn the lessons of the disastrous True Detective Season 2, creators behind successful stand-alone TV projects continue to be unable to let good enough alone. At least with The Night Of, HBO chief Casey Bloys has said creators Richard Price and Steven Zaillian are being given time to “crack” the case of a second season: “They’re going to come to us when they are excited about something.”
But over at Netflix, The OA is bafflingly planning a return and 13 Reasons Why producer Selena Gomez already seems eager to follow up a story that begins and ends with (spoiler alert) the death of its main character and narrator. It’s inconceivable to continue that show without Hannah Baker; like Big Little Lies, this is another case where the entire plot of the source material (a novel by Jay Asher) has already been told. But after the first installment of 13 Reasons received such a warm reception, Gomez told The Hollywood Reporter that there may be enough material for a second season: “We know there are so many stories that lie beneath each character. That’s why it became a series in the first place.” Added the show’s star Katherine Langford (whose character, mind you, is dead): “There’s definitely more story to tell. It would be cool to continue the dialogue of this story. There are so many cliff-hangers at the end of the season. . . ‘Oh my God, that’s the story that needed to be told.‘”
This trend of unnecessary second seasons—like the many bodies littering Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, and The Night Of—needs to be buried. Deep.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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