Big Little Lies – A Monterey Thriller

Brand new HBO series Big Little Lies premiered tonight. No it’s not about CNN’s Fake News. The show, a naturalistic coastal version of a murder mystery, features big stars like Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. What peaks my interest is not that it has elements of a police procedural thriller, as many shows do, but rather the way in which it uses its setting in Monterey to it’s advantage. This series was shot in the area that John Steinbeck wrote about and lived in because it is so beautiful. Salvador Dali also lived there. His paintings featured the landscapes of the area. Big Little Lies has  some shots featuring gorgeous panoramic views of nature. The director of this film, John Mark Valee, did Dallas Buyers Club and Wild previously.

The sets are shadowy. The women are beach blondes. And there are more women stars than normal on this show. With any luck, odds are they will all be grabbing hair and ripping each others throats out by season’s end. Maybe things have changed to where the beach isn’t the fun buoyant place it used to be in the 80s and 90s. Some signs of liberal irony are present. The main characters’ little 6 year old kid is being accused of ‘bullying’ in the school. Personally, I live pretty close to Monterey. From experience I know that these towns really do have all these blondes. The retro furniture and upper middle class thing seem fitting. The lighting is perfect on this show to set the dreary mood. But I would say that the actual people who live on the coast are not melancholy like the characters on the show. Rather they are fairly merry even when complaining.

Not a whole lot was revealed on the premiere episode tonight. From upcoming trailers its is clear that families are in turmoil , and people will die ( possibly from love triangles) . If you are a fan of murder mysteries, or a fan of naturalistic directing styles I would recommend this very cinematic show. It has some of the best shots and lighting I have seen this year. Hopefully it will head down a darkened path as things unfold.