As someone who both loves TV in general and Big Little Lies in particular, this is hard to say: I don’t want a season 2. It’s bitter-sweet when shows you love end, but end they should. There’s so much mediocre-meh-good-enough TV out there (not naming any names), that when something good pops up, you want to keep it forever. I’m already in deep denial that Bates Motel and The Leftovers are ending. If the TV Gods offered to keep them forever, irrational me would jump at the chance. Rational me knows that it’s time to say goodbye.
Just as when a character’s arc is complete, when the whole story is done, please please please end it. Just let it go, shove it out the door and say goodbye. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss says, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” The internet tells me he said it, which is good enough for me.
Indulge me for a moment, TV Friends: imagine for example, if Lost (yeah, I’m talking about Lost!), had ended with everyone boarding the plane back to the island, ready to save their friends. Picture it! It’s the spring of 2010: our heroes go full circle, return by choice with a mission, having become the good and selfless people the island wanted all along. The audience would have filled in the details themselves. Did we need to see Good and Evil fight to the death over their Mommy Issues, a magical mysterious lighthouse (that somehow nobody ever saw before), and a bunch of new faces created solely because they were expendable and could take bullets the leads couldn’t? Short answer: no. And I’m in the minority of people who didn’t have a problem with how Lost ended. I actually think it could have wrapped up sooner. I don’t care about mysteries about hatches and polar bears, and dharma sharks, I care about characters finishing their journeys, that they get what they want or die trying, the end ( …coincidentally the title of the final episode of Lost, but I promise I’ll stop now.)
So what does this have to do with Big Little Lies, you’re asking? Well, for as much as I would love to have more Madeleine Martha MacKenzie’s mile-a-minute dialogue in my life, I think we’re done with her. As fun as she is, Madeleine and Renata, Bonnie, their husbands, their kids, the Greek chorus of eye witnesses are really there to tell Jane’s and Celeste’s overlapping stories. Yes, everyone has secrets, everyone is telling lies, but compared to the mysteries of Jane’s past and Celeste’s present, they are supporting secrets. And still they found some closure, which is a nice bonus. Renata found some peace, Madeleine some perspective, and Bonnie some catharsis. Big Little Lies couldn’t be more over if you pushed it over a cliff and down a steep set of stairs.
“But wait!” you’re thinking, “what if they just write new plots and the story continues?” Sure, while that’s theoretically possible, Big Little Lies sure seemed complete to me. Should a second season pop up and reveal that there are more lies and more secrets, Monterrey runs the risk of becoming wacky Twin Peaks. The appeal of Big Little Lies is the secret empathy found in superficially unrelatable characters. You go from saying “I’d love that life!” to “Err…. no thanks, I’m good.” The little fibs, secrets, and half-truths have already been unmasked for the real disasters they’re covering. You can only go to the well once for that particular trick.
So let’s appreciate what we’ve been given: a well-executed intriguing drama — with a top-notch cast, satisfying conclusion, and surprising empathy. It’s been wonderful ladies, but it’s time to drive off down the Pacific Coast Highway to greener TV pastures. … Did I mention The Leftovers is starting Sunday?