The first season of Big Little Lies won multiple awards and critical praise after it debuted on HBO in the winter of 2017. But one prominent outlet had some harsh words for the beloved limited series, which will return to HBO for another run in June.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California on Friday, the starry Big Little Lies Season 2 cast — Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley and Meryl Streep — was asked about the stark gender divide among critics, which leans heavily male, and whether the actresses had ever received a review they felt was unfair or sexist.
"There was one critic who probably didn't watch more than one episode and said it was a 'chick show' or something. And really tore the show apart. I remember Nic and I talked about it," said Witherspoon, who is also an executive producer on Big Little Lies.
Kidman revealed the review said her abusive relationship with husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) was "worse than" Fifty Shades of Grey. "I was like, please watch the whole show," Kidman said. "Which is what I always say! Which I know is a massive time commitment because there are only so many hours. But you make the show whole."
Neither Kidman nor Witherspoon called the outlet out by name, but in his review for the New York Times, published two days before the premiere, critic Mike Hale panned the series while comparing it to the S&M franchise.
"Not interested in the mom who's bored with her husband and mired in a midlife crisis because she can't have it all? (The original big little lie.) Then how about the control-freak Silicon Valley executive who goes ballistic when her daughter reports being bullied at school, the event that may or may not have led to the mysterious death?" Hale wrote. "Or the abuse victim who's reluctant to leave her husband, a subplot that's more disturbing but also strays into Fifty Shades territory?"
Kidman's character, Celeste, is a domestic abuse survivor, and her arc throughout the original eight episodes was one of the show's most powerful aspects — and something Kidman herself touched on numerous times since the show debuted. Upon winning at the Emmys in September 2017, Kidman used her speech to call out domestic violence as an "insidious disease."
"We've shown a light on domestic abuse," Kidman said at the time. "It is a complicated, insidious disease. It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy. And by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I bow down to you."
Season 2 of Big Little Lies premieres in June and deals with the aftermath of Celeste's husband's death. The show added Streep to the cast to play Celeste's mother-in-law. According to the cast, there are no plans for Season 3.