Sunday night TV’s gotten really good again (who else misses The Good Wife?) with Big Little Lies, a new HBO miniseries about a small group of first-grade moms whose petty, Type A rivalries culminate in murder. Sound far-fetched? Hardly. Anyone who’s ever served on a PTA board knows women like Maddy, Celeste and Jane, the three main characters whose California-coast, shelter-magazine lives are hardly what they seem.
What makes Big Little Lies must-see TV is the dark undercurrent running beneath the surface. Set in the town of Monterey, along the super-wealthy Pacific coast, the story is structured around the police investigation into a death at the school fundraiser. Told in flashbacks during questioning of parents who witnessed the crime, we learn that each of the main characters has her own dark secret.
Watch this series for the mystery, which as it’s revealed explores issues of violence and its lasting effects, but stay for the cinematography and set design, which rival anything seen during Academy Awards season. Just the drive these folks make to school every day takes your breath away.
The series is based on the book of the same title by Liane Moriarty, which is funnier but just as dark. It’s a quality diversion from, well, life right now, and it’s more than easy on the eyes. Big Little Lies airs on HBO at 9:00 pm Sunday, and streams on HBO Go or HBO On Demand.