The Refreshing Honesty Of The “Girls” Friendship Breakup

Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Hannah (Lena Dunham) shortly before their reconciliation. Mark Schafer / HBO

In the penultimate episode of Girls’ final season, Hannah (Lena Dunham) inserts herself into a conversation between three college students. “I’d like to remind the three of you not to sleep on this friendship, because I know it feels like it’s just gonna be, like, love and lust pushing you forward, but lust fades and friendship never does, if you nurture it,” she warns.

Hannah is wrong, of course: Friendships can fade, even when valiant attempts are made to, at best, strengthen them and, at worst, sustain them, a harsh reality that is readily apparent throughout the aptly titled “Goodbye Tour.” The episode sees Hannah reconnect with her core group of friends — Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) — only to discover that they’re as incompatible as ever. Even as they make amends and come together to dance the night away to the latest Banks single, it’s clear that this group is fractured beyond repair. That’s not a happy ending, but it’s not a bleak one either. It just is.

Shows like Sex and the City — which paved the way for Girls with its HBO-defining focus on female friendship and unapologetic sexuality — repeatedly underlined Hannah’s pronouncement that while love is fleeting, friendship is forever. No matter what was going on in her romantic life, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) always had Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) to fall back on. They outlasted the series, reappearing in two movies that reinforced their unshakable decades-long bond. It’s certainly admirable to portray friendship as a constant, unyielding force in an otherwise chaotic world, an essential contrast to the tenuousness of romance and sex — but that’s not necessarily realistic.

The bravest thing Girls has done in its final season is to pull the rug out from under the idea that friendship is somehow sacred when in fact it can be a lot closer to romantic love than Sex and the City once had us believe: It’s contextual, sometimes as much about circumstance than any sort of innate kinship. That’s especially true in your twenties, the decade in which young people grow into adulthood and often move past the friendships of convenience that dominated their college years. The episode before “Goodbye Tour” broke up Hannah and Adam (Adam Driver) for good and threw water on the TV concept of an “endgame” relationship. “Goodbye Tour” is a reminder that forever friendship is a similar fantasy, however comforting the notion might be.

At times, the episode is sharply cynical about friendship. Elijah (Andrew Rannells) consoles Hannah, who is having trouble connecting with Marnie and Shosh, by telling her, “You’ve made so many wonderful friendships here.” Immediately, they break into laughter. “That’s not a thing,” he continues.

Marnie (Allison Williams) and Hannah during their bathroom meeting. Mark Schafer / HBO

When Hannah does finally meet up with Marnie and Shoshanna — and Jessa, to whom she’s not speaking — Shosh offers a scathing indictment of the once tight bond among the four of them: “We can’t hang out together anymore, because we cannot be in the same room without one of us making it completely and entirely about ourselves.”

Shoshanna has been conspicuously absent for much of this season, but in “Goodbye Tour” that pays off. Hannah’s shock about Shoshanna’s engagement — she didn’t even know she had a boyfriend! — mirrors our own. Because Hannah is our most consistent entry point in the series, we’ve seen Shosh through her eyes. Her lack of screen time throughout the season reflects that unspoken estrangement. But with that space, Shoshanna gets clarity. She tells the others, “I have come to realize how exhausting and narcissistic and ultimately boring this whole dynamic is, and I finally feel brave enough to create some distance for myself.”

The confrontations are not all so biting. Hannah and Jessa do finally approach reconciliation — things haven’t been the same since Jessa started dating Adam, and Hannah mined her feelings of betrayal for a “Modern Love” column, and Jessa and Adam made a movie about his and Hannah’s relationship. Their tearful conversation is one of Girls’ most poignant moments, mainly because it’s refreshingly honest. While Hannah suggests, “We were all just doing our best,” Jessa counters, “Our best was awful.” These women can now inhabit the same space without screaming at each other, but they’re not going to be BFFs again. No matter how much they might cling to their connection, all four of these former friends bring out the worst in one another. The “worst best,” as Hannah terms it, isn’t something to settle for.

“Goodbye Tour” was the last we’ll see of Jessa and Shosh, who both got fitting (and bittersweet) conclusions to their arcs. Sunday’s series finale may provide some closure for Hannah and Marnie, but it likely won’t be a return to what they once had. And while there’s something deeply painful about that — the dissolution of friendship is its own special kind of heartbreak — it’s grounded and frank in a way that represents Girls at its best. Learning that everything fades eventually is one of the toughest lessons in growing up.



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The Jays And Nigel Barker Had A “Top Model” Reunion And People Are Excited

“The family is back together!”

Though it’s only been a few weeks since Tyra Banks announced she was coming back to America’s Next Top Model as host, the former supermodel has wasted no time filling fans in on some changes for the upcoming 24th cycle.

Though it's only been a few weeks since Tyra Banks announced she was coming back to America's Next Top Model as host, the former supermodel has wasted no time filling fans in on some changes for the upcoming 24th cycle.

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

Last weekend, Banks revealed that she was lifting the age requirement on the audition process, and now it seems we could be seeing the return of a few other familiar faces.

Last weekend, Banks revealed that she was lifting the age requirement on the audition process, and now it seems we could be seeing the return of a few other familiar faces.

Jesse Grant / Getty Images

Yesterday, J Alexander aka Miss J aka the show’s legendary runway coach, posted a photo featuring Nigel Barker, a former judge, and Jay Manuel, the show’s former creative director.

Yesterday, J Alexander aka Miss J aka the show's legendary runway coach, posted a photo featuring Nigel Barker, a former judge, and Jay Manuel, the show's former creative director.

Back in 2012, Barker, Manuel, and Alexander were let go from ANTM.

Instagram / Via instagram.com

Manuel posted an image of the trio as well, with a caption that made it seem like Banks has invited the original gang back to help her find the next top model.

Manuel posted an image of the trio as well, with a caption that made it seem like Banks has invited the original gang back to help her find the next top model.

The photo caption reads: “#👀 Yup this happened…the family is back together! @miss_jalexander @nigelbarker @mrjaymanuel #CanYouGuess?”

Instagram / Via instagram.com


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The TV Show Designed To Appeal To Democrats, Republicans, And Even President Trump

Téa Leoni as Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord.

CBS

On Dec. 1, 2016, Madam Secretary showrunner Barbara Hall found herself in a familiar position: Her political drama had once again predicted real-world events. That was the day Gambian President Yahya Jammeh shut down the country’s internet during a major election, mirroring a November 2016 episode where the president of Angola did the same in an attempt to dissuade citizens from voicing their dissent, which — he hoped — would ensure his victory.

In a previous example of life imitating art, an episode that aired on Nov. 8, 2015, revolved around an American ISIS leader nicknamed Jihadi Judd, who was killed in a drone strike, and five days later, an actual American ISIS member nicknamed Jihadi John was killed in a drone strike.

Leoni with Keith Carradine, who plays President Dalton.

CBS

Over its three seasons, the CBS drama has routinely borne an eerie similarity to events that grabbed headlines in our real 24-hour news cycle. “I can’t even count in my mind how many things like that have happened,” Hall told BuzzFeed News. Referencing NATO decisions, foreign acts of aggression, and international crimes that have nearly transpired first on her show, Hall said, “It’s a very odd feeling for us.”

While Madam Secretary isn’t intentionally trying to predict current events, it’s not entirely accidental either. “What we would do is take current events and game them out to the extremes,” Hall said, explaining how the show approaches its political storylines. To ground their storylines in truth, the writers work in tandem with a consulting group in Washington, DC, made up of political experts who offer their expertise and help shape elements of every script. “We call them up and sometimes we’ll say, ‘This is the kind of conflict we want to have. Could you give us the countries and the issues?’” Hall said. “Other times we know the situation. Like in the Season 2 premiere, Air Force One went missing and secretary of state became president for a day. With that call they’re like, ‘Well, that wouldn’t happen. It’s, like, a 2% chance.’ So it’s like, ‘Okay, what’s the 2%, because we’ll [write] straight to that.’”

That sliver of possibility could be even further diminished in Season 4 given how unprecedented — and unpredictable — President Trump’s first four months in office have been. Scenarios once deemed too unrealistic for the show’s fastidious authenticators could now play out in real life before the writers even dream them up.

Appropriately, the show itself also has some origins in the real world: When Hall was approached to create the series, executive producers Lori McCreary and Tracy Mercer had been inspired by watching Hillary Clinton (then secretary of state) during the 2014 Benghazi hearings and thinking about what it was like for her to go home at night. Hall quickly cottoned to the idea but had one condition: “It can’t be Hillary. That was my first thing,” she recalled with a laugh. So Hall set out to create an original character with that same capable DNA, and Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) was born. McCord is a former CIA operative who is chosen to become secretary of state by her old friend, President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine), when the current secretary dies under suspect circumstances — a mystery that drives much of the first season’s plot.

Leoni with Laith Nakli, who plays Foreign Minister Kasib Hajar.

CBS

Hall also made a second, equally crucial decision when crafting the pilot. “You have to ask yourself what the rules are: Are we a parallel universe or are we an alternate universe?” she said. Hall opted for a similar but alternate universe set a few years in the future. So, as in the real world, Barack Obama served two terms as president before Dalton was elected; and the show begins halfway through his first term.

This not only gave Hall the freedom to distance herself from future events — such as the 2016 election — but also allowed her to realistically recast the political landscape with fictional foreign leaders. For example, when there was a problem with Russia in Season 2, Elizabeth didn’t correspond with Vladimir Putin, but instead with Madam Secretary’s devious Maria Ostrov. While these international inventions allows the show to tell stories about foreign countries that are detached from the current state of global affairs, they also open the door for viewers to invent correlations between the characters and the real-world figures who may or may not have inspired them.

Leoni with Joel de la Fuente, who plays Philippine President Datu Andrada.

CBS

Like some of its pop culture brethren, Madam Secretary seems to have attracted the attention and ire of our new president. According to the New York Daily News, Donald Trump feels the show is, along with ABC’s Designated Survivor, intentionally crafting storylines designed to malign him and his administration. Trump’s deputy press secretary did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for a comment.

One storyline that reportedly upset Trump involved Elizabeth being sexually harassed by the president of the Philippines, a bombastic egotist on the show. But Hall asserts that character wasn’t meant to represent any man in particular; instead, he was a cipher for the misogynistic energy often displayed by male politicians. “First of all, the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault for any woman, particularly a woman working in a man’s world, that’s just a prevalent discussion,” she said. “I would like for one day it not to be as relevant, but right now it’s extremely relevant. We just took that issue and set it in the world of politics and international relations.”

If people on either side of the political aisle (or in the White House) see intentional similarities between a character on the show and a real-world figure, Hall posits that’s because Madam Secretary is being viewed through a different lens in 2017. “That’s just going to happen anyway when you do extreme characters or colorful characters,” she said. “But we still have been able to maintain a world that’s just about our government inside the show.”

Leoni with Zeljko Ivanek, who plays the president’s chief of staff, Russell Jackson.

CBS

Hall did acknowledge one way President Trump has changed her day-to-day on Madam Secretary. “One of the challenges is just trying to stay ahead of the news now,” she offered. “We’re trying to be in the future, but everything is moving so fast. It’s become quite challenging. Sometimes we end up doing stories that are too close to what’s happening through no fault of our own. We were trying to get ahead!”

Even though it opens the show up to speculation, Hall said that setting Madam Secretary in an alternate reality was “absolutely the best decision. It’s always freeing to be a little bit in the future because you can say something has happened that hasn’t; in our world a lot of things have been resolved that haven’t been in reality. Because if you’re doing a parallel universe — which is a government that kind of reflects the government we’re living through right now — it’s so hard to avoid comparisons. It’s so hard to be nonpartisan.”

And maintaining that equality has, more than anything else, been Hall’s goal since day one. “Even back then, the discussion of politics had become so polarized and polarizing that I wanted to create this show where everyone could come to it and talk about politics again,” said Hall, who previously created Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia. “Almost everyone is interested in politics, but it became so painful to discuss that I wanted to create, if you will, a nonpartisan world to discuss politics.”

Leoni with Sebastian Arcelus, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen, Bebe Neuwirth, and Geoffrey Arend, who play McCord’s staff.

CBS

To that end, setting Madam Secretary inside the foreign policy-focused State Department proved invaluable because it meant the show would rarely have to deal with more incendiary domestic issues. “Foreign policy, with some exceptions, tends to be something that becomes partisan after the fact,” she said. “When there’s a big catastrophe or problem or something needs addressing in a foreign country, the first move is problem solving. Later it becomes partisan, that it wasn’t handled correctly.” In fact, Madam Secretary was so successful in maintaining its nonpartisan plan that it wasn’t until the third season that the president’s political party was revealed. And even that was measured: Dalton ran as an independent.

Leoni

CBS

By pushing political parties to the side, Madam Secretary has been able to tell deeply affecting stories that emphasize the needs of the many over the needs of the few. “It’s a humanitarian show because it’s a show about diplomacy,” Hall said. “If you think about war as being a failure of diplomacy, then the State Department is what stops war from happening. It really is a show about people who are committed to creating diplomacy and better relationships between governments.” In her research, Hall encountered an endless stream of “true believers,” people “who really and truly are in government service for all the right reasons and are committed to the job.”

Now, three seasons in, Hall is still driven to give a voice to the people who may not speak or tweet the loudest, but who embarked on their careers in Washington, DC, with the purest of intentions. “I hope [the show] makes people more understanding and less impatient with the government. The State Department is something everybody knows is there but not necessarily knows the inner workings of. But it’s so important! So many things could be issues but don’t become issues because of diplomacy.”

Hall knows she can’t control how people interpret the issues, actions, and characters on her show, yet she maintains hope that every single viewer, regardless of their political identity, recognizes that, yes, the humanitarian government depicted on Madam Secretary is aspirational, but it is also completely attainable. “I felt that way when we started, and I feel that way even more now,” Hall said. “When you reveal how the government is set up to work, you see how much of it is set up correctly and has longevity for a reason. I think that is a valuable service right now, and everybody is struggling to understand what we’re living through. Because it’s an aspirational show, we feel like we really have an opportunity to show people how the government could be and how we’d like it to be. It’s a stretch and it’s a reach, but why not reach! Why not?”

The First Trailer For “Master Of None” Season 2 Is Finally Here

More Dev! More dancing! More pasta!

The first season of Master of None premiered on Netflix back in November 2015, and the show’s main character Dev (Aziz Ansari) completely won our hearts.

The first season of Master of None premiered on Netflix back in November 2015, and the show's main character Dev (Aziz Ansari) completely won our hearts.

Netflix

And now we ~finally~ have the first official trailer for the second season, which will be released on May 12.

youtube.com

Rejoice!

Rejoice!

Netflix / Via youtube.com

Dev’s adorable parents (who are also Ansari’s parents in real life) make a return to the series.

Dev's adorable parents (who are also Ansari's parents in real life) make a return to the series.

Netflix / Via giphy.com


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6 Under-The-Radar Movies You’ll Want To Catch Up With This Month

1. After the Storm

1. After the Storm

Hiroshi Abe as Ryota Shinoda.

Film Movement

Ryota Shinoda, the hangdog type played by Hiroshi Abe in After the Storm, wrote a novel that won an award 15 years ago, and has been coasting off that almost entirely faded glory ever since. These days, he’s a compulsive gambler who’s forever broke and behind on child support for his son Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa), and he’s still pretending his part-time job working for a seedy detective agency is research for the follow-up book he hasn’t been writing. The ex-wife, Kyoko (Yoko Make), he’s still in love with is about to marry someone else, and he’s in denial about it. But so is his elderly widowed mother Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), who hadn’t expected her son to come drifting back her way in middle age, scouring her apartment for things to pawn.

While this all sounds very “lovable loser makes good,” filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda is too exacting and too unsentimental to ever let Ryota off the hook as he lies to himself and to his loved ones. And Kiki — who, like Abe, is a regular actor in the director’s movies — is an Olympic-level heartbreaker, capable of enveloping warmth one moment and of delivering a deft twist of the knife the next. She and Abe played mother and son in Koreeda’s phenomenal 2008 Still Walking, and while After the Storm isn’t on par with that work, it does feel like a sequel of sorts, a beautifully careworn family drama about another sort of mourning and letting go.

How to see it: After the Storm is now playing in select theaters around the country — browse a list of locations here.

2. All This Panic

2. All This Panic

Dusty Rose Ryan and Delia Cunningham.

Factory 25

“I’m petrified of getting old,” Ginger, the most mercurial of the Brooklyn teens in All This Panic says at the beginning of Jenny Gage’s directorial debut. “I can’t stand the idea that one day someone will tell me, ‘You look a bit old for that outfit.’ I don’t want to age — I think that’s the scariest thing in the entire world.” It’s an unbearable thing to hear from someone who’s not even old enough to legally drink yet, but the sentiment is also achingly real in its sincerity. Gage’s light-streaked documentary about a group of ultra-hip girls approaching semi-adulthood appreciates that the only thing more alarming than youth, in all its uncertainty, is the idea of getting too old to be given the benefit of it.

All This Panic tries to capture and bottle that dizzying, liminal feeling of hovering between childhood and adulthood, all of these firsts lined up in front of you like a test — first kiss, first love, first time away from home, first time having sex. The details of its subjects’ generally privileged if not necessarily well-off lives are not always relatable — so many cool parents providing their kids with booze! — but the rawness of their experiences certainly is. Its young women navigate crushes, friendships, relationships, sexuality, fashion, race, and financial instability with a frankness that’s rare and not always endearing.

And while the film is lovely to look at, it’s the bursts of ugliness that are often its most recognizable parts. To watch Ginger lash out at her family over her not wanting to go to college but having no idea what to do next is to feel dropped right back into a very turbulent time of life. It’s a portrait of youth so real that it can leave you, unlike Ginger, appreciating what it means to get older.

How to see it: All This Panic is now playing in theaters in New York and will be making its way around the country — check out a list of locations here. It’s also available for digital rental and purchase.

3. The Blackcoat’s Daughter

3. The Blackcoat's Daughter

Emma Roberts as Joan.

A24

At a secluded Catholic boarding school on break, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) are the two stragglers who’ve been left behind in the care of a pair of nuns when their parents are late to pick them up. Elsewhere, a troubled-looking young woman named Joan (Emma Roberts) hitches a ride with an older husband and wife who turn out to have some tragedy in their pasts. These two storylines unfold in parallel in the dead of winter, eventually converging with the syrupy-slow sensation of a nightmare you can’t rouse yourself from over the course of this enigmatic, unsettling horror movie.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter is the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of Anthony), though thanks to distributor problems it’s come out after his equally atmospheric second feature, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, started streaming as a Netflix original. The two are enough, together, to make Perkins everyone’s favorite new art-horror director — he has a way not only with simmering dread but with making everyday spaces frightening just by the way he moves his camera, always hinting at something monstrous lurking just outside the frame.

If you haven’t seen either film, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is the place to start — it’s a dark fable in which forces of evil and fears of abandonment prove themselves to be equally formidable.

How to see it: The Blackcoat’s Daughter is playing in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and a few other markets. It’s also available on demand and for digital rental or purchase.

4. Five Came Back

4. Five Came Back

John Ford shooting WWII propaganda.

Netflix

Five Came Back provides the perfect response to lob at anyone who’s ever offered up the argument that movies are just movies and shouldn’t be politicized. This three-part Netflix documentary, directed by Laurent Bouzereau and based on Mark Harris’s book of the same name, lays out just how massively powerful a political tool that film has always been, both as a vehicle for a director’s point of view and, more directly, as propaganda. Five Came Back examines the experiences of five famous filmmakers — John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens — before, during, and after volunteering their services in the United States’ fight during World War II.

Five Came Back would be interesting if slightly staid historical fare at any time, blending archival footage (some of it from the docs the five produced) with fresh talking-head interviews from fellow directors Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass, and Lawrence Kasdan (narrator Meryl Streep save it from being a total sausagefest). But at a moment when people are more visibly politically polarized and drifting toward increasingly partisan sources of news, Five Came Back‘s discussions of propaganda, the calculations behind it, and the impact of representation feel pressingly timely and important.

How to see it: Five Came Back is streaming on Netflix.

5. I Called Him Morgan

5. I Called Him Morgan

Lee and Helen Morgan in 1970.

Kasper Collin Produktion AB / Courtesy of the Afro-American Newspaper Archives and Research Center

Lee Morgan was a wunderkind, a talented trumpeter who was playing with Dizzy Gillespie when he was still a teenager, but who developed a drug habit that would lay him awfully low until he met the right, and wrong, woman. Helen Morgan was the older woman who enjoyed having musicians over, liked to cook for them, possessed as she was of a quick wit, a tart tongue, and a love of jazz. Theirs wasn’t the usual relationship; as one of the interviewees who knew them in I Called Him Morgan puts it, Lee’s needs made it seem “almost like adopting a child.” But they were good for each other, until they weren’t, until Helen shot Lee in Slug’s Saloon in the East Village in 1972, and he bled out in the time it took for an ambulance to reach him through heavy snowfall.

I Called Him Morgan is a flat-out sublime doc directed by Kasper Collin, with Arrival‘s Bradford Young contributing some of the cinematography, and it provides an entrancing window into the ’60s New York jazz scene that zooms in on photos from years-ago parties and gigs and jam sessions, the people in them sometimes turning up to provide commentary. But it’s the tragic romance between Lee and Morgan that’s the film’s spine, with Helen holding up her own end of the story via an audio interview, never completed, that someone did with her years later. Lee Morgan may have been the famous musician, but Helen glows bright in her own right. “I will not sit here and tell you that I was nice, because I was not,” she says, her voice lingering on after she died. “I was sharp. I looked out for me.”

How to see it: I Called Him Morgan is playing in select theaters — here’s a list of locations.

6. Prevenge

6. Prevenge

Alice Lowe as Ruth.

Shudder

Alice Lowe, the writer, director, and star of Prevenge, was seven and a half months pregnant when she shot her directorial debut — a fact that’s almost as impressive as how outrageously, amusingly dark its portrayal of impending motherhood is. The actor, maybe best known for her turn in Ben Wheatley’s vacation-turned-killing-spree horror comedy Sightseers, plays Ruth, a woman convinced that her unborn child is speaking to her and commanding her to commit murders.

And oh, does she. Ruth steadfastly trudges along, swollen ankles and all, obeying the bloodthirsty commands of her fetus. The audience comes to understand that trauma over the loss of her partner is one of the guiding factors on this gory rampage. But it’s more than just a journey of vengeance the (likely unwell) Ruth and her (probably totally normal and non-talking) baby are on. Ruth’s one extreme ball of maternal anxiety, channeling her fears and stress about having a child, about going through birth and parenting alone, into something very ill-advised. Prevenge is a small movie, but it’s impossible to forget.

How to see it: Prevenge is streaming on Shudder.

Every Single Way The “Big Little Lies” Book Is Different From The Show

HBO

1. The book takes place in a fictional place called the Pirriwee Peninsula in Australia, not Monterey, California.

2. The children are entering kindergarten instead of first grade.

3. Their kindergarten orientation day takes place months before school actually starts, not the day before.

4. Bonnie is also interviewed in the sections involving the police investigation.

5. Celeste, Madeline, and Jane all go out to brunch during orientation and drink mimosas in celebration of Madeline’s birthday, which leads other parents to believe they’re drunk when they pick up their kids later that day.

6. When Madeline first gives Jane a rundown of their town, Jane asks what the dads at the school are like.

7. Renata explicitly explains that her daughter’s name is Amabella when she introduces herself at orientation. She says, “That’s Amabella, by the way, not Annabella. It’s French. We didn’t make it up.”

8. Madeline doesn’t immediately come to Jane’s defense when Amabella accuses Ziggy of hurting her.

HBO

9. In addition to her younger daughter, Chloe, Madeline also has a son named Fred with Ed.

10. Perry is described in relation to Tom Cruise in a section of the book about Celeste, who’s played by Nicole Kidman on the show, who, as we all know, used to be married to Cruise. “Women always took to Perry,” the author, Liane Moriarty, writes. “It was that Tom Cruise, white-toothed smile and the way he gave them his full attention.”

11. Jane explains that her son Ziggy is, in fact, named after Ziggy Marley.

12. Thanks to the interviews that are included from the police investigations, the reader learns early on that it’s a parent who dies in the end.

13. Jane’s parents are present characters, and when Jane’s mom meets Madeline, she asks her to watch out for Jane.

14. Madeline is working on a production of King Lear, not Avenue Q.

HBO

15. Jane describes her rape as something she can clearly remember, including that her rapist was verbally abusive and called her a “fat ugly little girl.” He also asked if she wanted to watch a movie after, and she said goodbye when she left him in the hotel room.

16. Jane says after her rape, she developed an eating disorder and became insecure about her body.

17. Celeste goes to therapy alone, without Perry.

18. It is Celeste’s idea to get her own apartment, not her therapist’s.

19. Madeline starts a book club with the other moms from school.

20. Jane tells Madeline that her rapist’s name is Saxon Banks, and in a conversation between Celeste and Madeline, we find out that Perry has a cousin named Saxon Banks. The two women assume he’s Jane’s rapist and Ziggy’s father.

21. Celeste and Perry’s babysitter, who’s an older woman, seems to be aware of the abuse in their relationship.

HBO

22. The principal of Pirriwee is a woman.

23. Jane and Miss Barnes, Ziggy’s teacher, have a friendly relationship.

24. Jane volunteers to help read with the children in Ziggy’s class, and when she has alone time with Amabella, she asks her if Ziggy is the one who has been bullying her.

25. Ed is a journalist, not a web developer.

26. Renata and Perry know each other through work.

HBO

27. Renata’s husband, Geoff, has an affair with Juliette, their French nanny (there’s no mention of Madeline having any affairs in the book).

28. Abigail, Madeline’s oldest daughter, actually goes through with publishing her website about auctioning off her virginity to raise awareness about child sex trafficking.

29. In the book, Abigail is 14 years old instead of 16, which makes her auction illegal because she’s not of the legal age to give consent.

30. Perry was bullied as a kid, and his cousin Saxon came to his defense.

31. Madeline accidentally drives into the back of Renata’s car at pickup after school.

32. Jane gets a very dramatic haircut.

HBO

33. The only reason Abigail shuts down her virginity auction is because someone offers to donate $100,000 to Amnesty International if she closes her auction immediately.

34. Madeline invites Tom to sit at her table at the school’s trivia night; he and Jane technically don’t show up to the event as each other’s dates.

35. Celeste’s son, Josh, is the one who tells her that her other son, Max, has been bullying Amabella and Skye.

36. After Perry finds out that Celeste has rented her own apartment, the couple fight in the car but they walk into trivia night together.

37. Bonnie accidentally spills her drink on Madeline in the middle of a tense moment between them, instead of Ed accidentally spilling his drink on Nathan.

HBO

38. Celeste approaches Jane (not the other way around) at trivia night about how Max is the one bullying Amabella.

39. Most of the women’s husbands are present when Perry is murdered. Madeline, Ed, Jane, Renata, Bonnie, Nathan, Celeste, and Perry are all on the balcony outside of the school’s trivia night leading up to Perry’s death.

40. Jane immediately recognizes Perry as her rapist and says to him, “I think we’ve already met… Except you said your name was Saxon Banks.”

41. Jane also reveals that she moved to the Pirriwee Peninsula because the night she was raped, she saw that Perry had a real estate brochure for that area, and she wanted to find him.

42. Celeste confronts Perry in front of everyone, then throws her drink in his face. After Perry hits Celeste, Bonnie tells him that Max is hurting Skye because he sees how his father behaves. That’s when she pushes him and he falls to his death.

HBO

43. Starting with Renata, all of the women agree that they “didn’t see anything” happen on the balcony in order to protect Bonnie, which upsets Ed.

44. We find out that Bonnie’s father was violent toward her mother, which is what triggered her reaction to push Perry.

45. Both Madeline and Jane end up injured in the hospital after trivia night because of a brawl that occurred inside the event, separate from Perry’s murder.

46. Nathan visits Madeline in the hospital and asks her to lie to the police for Bonnie. She agrees, which upsets Ed, who makes it known that he’s deeply unhappy about not telling the truth. There’s a struggle between them about whether or not he’s going to tell the truth.

47. In the aftermath of Perry’s death, Bonnie visits Celeste at her home and discusses the events of that night. At this point, Celeste and Jane haven’t spoken.

48. Bonnie confesses to murdering Perry and is sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

49. Celeste goes back to work, decides to still move in to her new apartment with Max and Josh, sells their old house, and she also sets up a trust fund for Ziggy.

HBO

9 Ways “Big Little Lies” Made Itself Iconic

Warning: LOTS OF SPOILERS!

How it challenged our instincts about women on TV.

How it challenged our instincts about women on TV.

I’ve never seen anything like Big Little Lies on TV before. But prior to its premiere, I had at least three conversations with TV journalists who were dismissive of it because it was about a group of rich women. I was shocked — are the tribulations of women’s lives and motherhood fodder for a trove of TV shows hidden away from me somewhere? Because personally, I’m more tired by crime and conmen.

Prestige television as it currently exists has largely skipped over stories about communities of women — Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City addressed women’s problems and friendships early on in the new Golden Age of TV, and Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin are still doing it. (Gilmore Girls, which was never considered Golden Age, is another exception.) But think of how rare it is to see a group of women in a scene talking about their lives. The stakes are so high on TV these days, almost no one talks about their lives! (The doctors on Grey’s Anatomy do sometimes, but then they’re inevitably interrupted by a surgical emergency.) Big Little Lies offered something different, as the final scene of the miniseries showed in almost comic relief. While the road to that frolicking-on-the-beach ending wasn’t a feminist utopia — there was sniping and competitiveness and jealousy along the way — it is possible for women to come together to try for something better. Or not, actually — I would also gladly watch shows about women coming together to try for something worse! —Kate Aurthur

HBO

Its acting.

Its acting.

One of my favorite parts of Big Little Lies is watching the characters listen while someone else is talking. It’s the kind of acting that’s usually thankless — all we tend to get is a quick shot of someone generically nodding their head.

On Big Little Lies, however, listening is such an integral part of the story. It matters how Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) absorbs Jane’s (Shailene Woodley) matter-of-fact explication of her rape; how Celeste (Nicole Kidman) takes in Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) careful elisions regarding his abuse in their first therapy session; and how Jane receives the child psychologist’s positive assessment of Ziggy (Iain Armitage). And in each of these scenes, Witherspoon, Kidman, and Woodley do some of the best work of their careers.

As does just about everyone else on this show! Adam Scott allows Madeline’s husband, Ed, to be wounded and prickly and kind of dull in the same moment, so you can understand why she would be drawn to him but not all that thrilled by him. Skarsgård somehow manages to keep Perry from becoming a two-dimensional villain without ever shying away from the monstrousness of his behavior. Even Zoë Kravitz is able to give shape to Bonnie, the character given the shortest shrift on the show, especially considering her all-too-relevant backstory in Liane Moriarty’s novel. (Spoiler alert for the book of the show you’ve already watched: Bonnie was abused by her father.)

And then there are the kids. All of them so kidlike in the most real way — I believe that Madeline’s daughter Chloe would be so self-possessed and musically astute because Darby Camp totally convinces me of these traits.

It will be fun, if a little reductive, to watch the Television Academy scramble to sort out how to nominate all of Big Little Lies‘ superlative performances — the Leading Actress in a Limited Series category alone will be insane. For now, though, we can just revel in a show that allowed so many talented people so much room to breathe so much life into all of these messy, compelling, deeply human characters. —Adam B. Vary

HBO

How it nailed the insidious threat of men.

How it nailed the insidious threat of men.

There’s something haunting about Big Little Lies, and it’s not just the fact that death hangs over the entire series. Its creeping feeling is palpable — and it hinges, at least in part, on the role of men in this series about women.

Though Big Little Lies is not about misogyny per se, there is an underlying sense of male threat embedded into its narrative — most dramatically in every scene between Celeste and Perry. But it’s also there when Ed’s eyes linger on his teenage stepdaughter Abigail (Kathryn Newton) — an action never spoken of or confronted — and when he watches Bonnie exercise, then comments that he “just love[s] sweat on women.” It’s there in the tenor of how Renata’s (Laura Dern) husband Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) threatens Jane, and in the feeling of foreboding when Madeline’s ex-lover Joseph (Santiago Cabrera) screams at her, moving toward her in anger while they’re alone. It’s there when Madeline is alone in her car, breaking down in tears after hearing about Jane’s rape. It’s even there in the children: the way Renata and Gordon’s daughter Amabella (Ivy George) comes home with bite marks, but is too afraid to tell her parents who hurt her.

In big and little ways, Big Little Lies shows what so many women learn through experience. It’s not a problem that can really be solved in seven hourlong episodes of an HBO series, but the finale of Big Little Lies brings one of its driving themes together in a genuinely moving way: Throughout the episode, we see both the subtle and momentous moves women make for each other when they sense that something is, indeed, off. It’s in the way Madeline jumps in to defend Jane when Gordon confronts her, and in the body language between Renata and Celeste after the former witnesses the latter run from Perry. It’s in the way Bonnie follows Celeste with her eyes when she senses Perry is a threat. And it is, of course, in the literal manifestation of all of this tension, when Perry attacks his wife and all of the women come to her defense. Because while the show has fun with its wealthy helicopter moms, it comes alive through the shared language — and in this case, the eventual shared bond — that accompanies surviving the nagging threat of men. When we think about Big Little Lies years from now, we’ll see all of those women united on the beach — at least, I know I will. —Alanna Bennett

HBO

Its therapist.

Its therapist.

My parents, now retired, spent much of their adult lives as mental health professionals (my mother was a clinical social worker; my father, a psychiatrist). Some of their patients were grappling with issues similar to what Celeste has to confront in Big Little Lies. But until “Once Bitten,” the episode in which Celeste’s therapist, Dr. Reisman (Robin Weigert), carefully guides her patient to face the truth of the abuse her husband Perry inflicts on her, I had never seen any TV show or movie so thoughtfully capture what my parents did every day in their offices.

Far too often, therapists are used as convenient tools for conflict, breaking ethical boundaries without a second thought and behaving wildly outside of the interests of their patients. I get it — that kind of depiction can make for easy drama. But like every other facet of Big Little Lies, in Celeste’s sessions with Dr. Reisman, this show chose instead to pursue the great drama of real human behavior. Even more than HBO’s late 2000s series In Treatment, this show nailed the empathic precision therapists employ to help their patients slowly, sometimes arduously, disentangle themselves from the thorny traumas weighing down their lives. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and after that scene in “Once Bitten” was over, I was so overcome with emotion, I had to pause the show for a second to recover. —ABV

HBO


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28 Movies And TV Shows To Watch If You Loved “Big Little Lies”

It’s hard to imagine life after Big Little Lies, but this might help.

Big Little Lies might have been a fleeting part of our lives with only seven episodes, but it’s certainly left its mark. If you’re looking for something to fill the void, we’ve got your backs. Whether you’re yearning for more complex stories of friendships among women, for further contemplations of trauma, for a little bit of mystery, or for all of the above, here are some films and TV series you might want to dive into next.

9 to 5

9 to 5

Starring three legends (Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin), 9 to 5 can best be described as a second-wave feminist revenge romp against the patriarchy. And honestly, how fun is that? —Alanna Bennett

20th Century Fox

Ally McBeal

Ally McBeal

Long before Big Little Lies, David E. Kelley was responsible for this series about a lawyer with a complicated personal life — well, not quite as complicated as Celeste’s. But Ally McBeal is also similar in the way it blended genres and used dream sequences and heightened reality to contrast its more grounded storytelling. —Louis Peitzman

FOX

Boys on the Side

Boys on the Side

The relationship between the three women at the center of Boys on the Side is only strengthened by the trauma they endure. Fans of Big Little Lies will notice a pretty significant plot similarity between the series and this film; it’s a major spoiler for both, so just watch. —LP

Warner Bros.


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