As awards season kicks off this week with both Golden Globes and SAG nominations, a backlash has been brewing over the limited series category — more specifically, the inclusion therein of HBO's Big Little Lies, which was recently renewed for a second season that seems to put it at odds with the "limited" description.
But according to HBO, the decision to submit the show for consideration in that category was entirely on the up-and-up (and they'd appreciate it if you'd stop suggesting otherwise). In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the network wrote:
"Big Little Lies was conceived, produced, and aired as a limited series. The implication of impropriety regarding HBO's awards submission of Big Little Lies in the Limited Series category is irresponsible and uninformed. The idea to continue the story came about only after the show aired. None of the cast or filmmakers had holdover contracts. Each deal had to be renegotiated, which is proof that no ongoing series was contemplated. Additionally, no source material beyond Liane Moriarty's novel existed. The accusation that HBO was 'gaming the system' is baseless and undeserved."
Creator David E. Kelley provided some additional context in an interview with THR, in which he described what it was like to wrap the project with no idea or expectation of ever revisiting the material, saying, "We were all mourning the characters. That's how over this felt. After the shoot and post, there was a period of grieving for this world we so loved."
Ultimately, HBO decided to return to that world for at least one more season, although Kelley suggested that this second outing really is it for Big Little Lies. In the meantime, the Limited Series category submission paid off; the show scored a Golden Globe nomination for Best Limited Series overall, plus a pair of Best Actress nominations in the category for Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. On the SAG Awards side, the drama lead with four nominations, including Best Actress in a Limited Series nods for Kidman, Witherspoon and Laura Dern, and one for Best Actor in a Limited Series for Alexander Skarsgard.