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YMMV / Big Little Lies

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  • Acceptable Targets: Averted for the most part. There's enough development to show that almost everyone's got issues.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Perry is the one that suggests he and Celeste go back to marriage counselling. And during the first session, he's the one who's honest about them hitting each other. Does he sincerely want to improve their marriage? Or is this just him trying to justify his worse behaviour?
    • Does Ms Barnes realise exactly how poor her judgement was on induction day? She notably deals with any further matters on the Ziggy/Amabella situation privately between the parents - suggesting she's trying to make up for starting the whole mess in the first place.
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  • Awesome Music: The show has been praised for its choice of background pop, whether indie or obscure, from its theme song to songs by Motown legends like Diana Ross and The Temptations. Fans of Call Me by Your Name rejoiced when a song from its soundtrack blasted through Jane's earphones in season 2.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Madeline, given her busybodying and moments of spite, particularly at Bonnie. Although she is defending her new friend Jane from a bigger and more powerful enemy in Renata, some of her tactics are (unnecessarily) too forceful and mean, considering that the reason for doing them is none of her business. Some may cheer at her antics whereas other viewers would find her a pest.
    • Renata is bad-tempered, aggressive and is a walking Refuge in Audacity. She is also witty, intelligent and cares about her child. This makes her either an irredeemable bitch who deserved Jane's violent confrontation or a Jerkass Woobie, but even Renata fans admit that she'd be insufferable in real life.
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    • The only husband in the series that seemingly hasn't divided fan opinion is Ed Mackenzie, mostly because of Madeline's affair (especially if you're in the anti-Madeline camp) and when he warned Nathan about pushing him around.
  • Broken Base:
    • The television show changing the setting from Sydney to Monterey brought accusations of "Americanizing" from some book fans. The Australian author Liane Moriarty defended the decision because she didn't believe that a Setting Update would affect anything to do with the novel, in compensation for her next television adaptation to be set in Australia where the book took place.
    • The Adaptation Expansion rubbed television fans the wrong way, since there was nothing left to adapt. Some also complained that the writing became sloppier because of this, such as how a lot of characters' secrets (such as Ed discovering Madeline's affair) were discovered by unintentional eavesdroppers walking in on the conversations, whereas Moriarty's writing was a lot cleverer (e.g. Perry discovering Celeste's plan to escape with the sons).
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  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Some viewers telegraphed that Perry would be the murder victim due to the tight bonds between all the women. However, it's agreed that revealing him to be Jane's date rapist was completely unexpected.
  • Catharsis Factor: In Episode 6 Jane hears that there's a petition to get Ziggy suspended. She runs into Renata who gloats about it and finally lets her have it. And the audience cheers along with her.
  • Complete Monster: Mary Louise immediately put a lot of viewers off the moment she coldly snapped at Madeline for being short and pretending to be tall by wearing stilettos, but the viewer hatred increased further during her invasive interrogating of Celeste and Jane, and for simply being too shadowy for many to handle until her presence felt suffocating.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: "I used to like to sit on your face too. D'you think that'll ever happen again?"
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Failed a Spot Check: Detective Quinlan tells a colleague that if the women had said in the interrogations that they were fighting Perry in self-defense which caused him to step back and fall to his death, the women could have been given 12 months community service for involuntary manslaughter, which is technically what happened, and what actually happens to Bonnie when she confesses in the book.
  • Fountain of Memes: Madeline in the first season; Renata in the second.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The final episode of the first season and its revelations are even more reminiscent of the Hollywood sex scandal that broke in late 2017 just months after the miniseries aired. Reese Witherspoon herself was one of the women that came forward about being abused.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Jane and Tom try being friends and hanging out together. Jane wants the relationship to go further, but the mood never feels right. Tom finally kisses her and breaks the tension. It's the most beautiful, most tender way to end Jane's arc.
    • After Ziggy is revealed to be innocent, Renata writes him a letter of apology.
    • After Jane discovers that Max was Amabella's attacker, she tells Celeste. It's a mark of their strong friendship that Celeste believes Jane instantly and confronts her son about it - but not in an accusatory way. She acknowledges that he is still a child and just needs to know what he did was wrong.
  • I Knew It!: Anyone suspicious of Renata's husband Gordon in the television series (e.g. his somewhat reserved reaction to his daughter being bullied, compared to his wife's understandable Mama Bear hysterics) felt vindicated when he was arrested for fraud in season two, losing both his and Renata's fortunes. However, this is a double subversion because his crime did not occur until a year after the events of the first season. And to add insult to injury, his affair with the babysitter from the novel is revealed to be canon to the show as well!
  • Iron Woobie: Ziggy took the rap for Renata's daughter getting attacked. Despite the isolation he gets, he still takes the heat because he's just that sweet a kid.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Renata can be a real piece of work at times but it's important to remember that her daughter is being repeatedly attacked, and she outright says she feels powerless to do anything about it.
    • Perry is a horrible abuser but there seem to be times when he's genuinely remorseful for what he does and it's clear he loves Celeste in his own twisted way and, deep down, even he agrees she should leave him. He also loves the two children too.
  • Les Yay:
    • Madeline and Jane hit it off immediately, and become best friends quickly. Madeline is fiercely protective of Jane and will do anything to help her. The episode of the TV series that reveals Jane was date raped has a scene where Madeline just bursts into tears at the thought of someone hurting her. Given Madeline's unhappiness in her marriage, you get the impression that she and Jane could give it a try too.
    • Jane and Celeste's bonding scenes with their children (particularly after discovering the twisted connection their boys have) in season two had many viewers argue that they had a better relationship with each other than Jane was having with potential male suitors.
  • Jossed: Any beliefs that Renata was a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant were quashed in season two after Gordon's prison time and Renata throwing him out of the car for almost bankrupting the family, as well as when she confirmed crossly, "I am self-made!"
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Renata's declaration (after visiting Gordon in jail): "I. WILL. NOT. NOT. BE. RICH!!"
    • From the same episode: "WILL SOMEBODY GIVE A WOMAN A MOMENT???!!!" as well as the entire Renata/Gordon arguing scene.
    • After Meryl Streep joining the cast for season two, other actresses' names were jokingly thrown around to make Special Guest appearances in season three.
    • Numerous videos of people dancing with the show's theme song "Cold Little Heart" inserted into the clip, which is a common joke on social media, such as Twitter, to highlight viewers' excitement to watch the next episode about to air.
    • The gif of Nicole Kidman saying, "Wow, the power of women!" when she accepted her Golden Globe award.
    • Madeline pressing the car horn, screaming, "I want MORE!!"
    • Ed's speech about regretting walking away from his bullies at school when Nathan threatens him. Former school bully-victims connected over the relatability.
    • The "It's my house, and I live here" scene. Noted for later becoming the most ironic part of season two, it was also the moment Renata became everyone's favorite character.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • A subversion with Renata. When Jane discovers a petition to have Ziggy suspended, she assumes Renata is behind it. Upon seeing the woman gloating about it, Jane snaps and smacks her in the face. Of course, it turns out that Harper was the one who started it, and Jane and Renata immediately patch things up.
    • Mary Louise for suggesting to Jane that she had either misread her rapist's intentions or that she had forgotten that she had consented to the sex, although, Mary Louise entered the show a walking Moral Event Horizon.
  • Narm:
    • One episode opens with Madeline having a nightmare where Renata ambushes her on the cliff with puppets, and pushes her off. We also get a horrible green screen shot (Renata's POV) of Reese Witherspoon falling before she wakes up.
    • "I said THANK YOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUU!!!" Doubles as Narm Charm.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Three words: "your property manager".
  • Periphery Demographic: A television series intended for women (particularly mothers) gained an overwhelmingly-enormous male following, as well as a large LGBT Fanbase.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Upon Renata and Jane making the peace in Episode 6, Renata's goal became entirely about protecting her daughter rather than punishing anyone. And by the finale she joins forces with the other women to save Celeste from her husband.
  • She Really Can Act:
    • Zoe Kravitz in the season finale conveys a lot of subtle emotion. Even though Bonnie's backstory from the book isn't included (she came from a troubled home herself), fans felt she conveyed it through her facial expressions alone.
    • Shailene Woodley received this reaction, considering how she had only been known for starring in movies for teenagers and had just finished the box-office failing-turned-Development Hell Divergent series.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The final line in the book: "This can happen to anyone".
  • Stoic Woobie: Celeste is being abused but upholds an image of being the perfect wife and mother.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: After catching Harper spying on their conversation, both Jane and Renata promptly put her in her place for starting the petition to have Ziggy suspended.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "Why didn't Daddy fly?"
    • Every time something goes wrong for Jane.
    • Double for Ziggy, who breaks down in tears at one point. You don't even know if he really did attack a girl at that point, but he's clearly wishing it had never happened.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Renata genuinely tries to make the peace with Madeline and the other mothers, deciding to invite Ziggy to Amabella's birthday party. Madeline, however, refuses to accept this just to be petty. It's hard to sympathise with her on this one, considering that Amabella just wants her friends at her birthday party - and Renata was being pretty sincere when she offered (having a bit of a Heel Realization).
  • What an Idiot!: Ms. Barnes knows that Amabella has bruises from being attacked.
    You'd Expect: She tells Renata privately about it so that Amabella doesn't feel pressured to be honest about who attacked her - and to keep the whole thing a secret from the town's Gossipy Hens.
    Instead: She announces it in front of all the other children and parents, telling Amabella to publicly name her attacker. She doesn't consider the possibility that the girl could be lying which turns out to be partially the case or the ramifications this could have afterwards.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Granola Girl Bonnie is ultimately revealed to be the one who killed Domestic Abuser Perry
  • The Woobie: Jane has a lot to deal with. Every chapter makes you want to hug her.
    • Ziggy, particularly in the mini-series. He's too young to understand all the convoluted machinations of the parents, but he's the victim of many of them.

Example of: