How Losing Alex Skarsgard’s Perry Would Change ‘Big Little Lies’ in Season 2

While there’s still so much we don’t know about Season Two of Big Little Lies, we do have the basics from HBO. First, all of the leading ladies have returned, as have the creator/showrunner (David E. Kelley) and writer of the source material (Liane Moriarty).

That means Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley will be back in roles that rank among the most popular of their careers. Of course, the show’s plot dictated that one big star couldn’t be back (at least in the present): Alexander Skarsgard, who played the abusive Perry to Kidman’s Celeste.

We know Meryl Streep, who plays Perry’s mother, will arrive in Monterey looking for answers. However, HBO and the Big Little Lies creative team have kept mum on the subject of Perry’s return (i.e., in flashback or Celeste’s dreams).

Considering Skarsgard was such a big part of Season One — and one of its four Golden Globe winners — his absence in Season Two could have a major impact on the show.

Skarsgard’s Perry drove a good deal of the action in Season 1.

Alexander Skarsgård as Perry White on Big Little Lies
Alexander Skarsgård as Perry White on Big Little Lies | HBO

The abusive Perry drove the action in Season 1 in so many ways. For one, his treatment of Celeste (Kidman) forced her to lie to her friends on several counts. Eventually, that led Celeste to seek help from a therapist.

When there was no way back, Celeste took an apartment and steeled herself to leave Perry and take the kids with her. The argument over that eventuality is what led to the show’s climax.

Perry also factored into the subplot of the twin who abused Amabella and lied about it. (Ziggy, son to Woodley’s Jane Chapman, took the blame.) Of course, he also turned out to be the man who abused Jane and fathered Ziggy.

Without him around, the plot would seem to shift mostly to accountability. Will anyone (specifically, Zoe Kravitz’s Bonnie), be charged for a crime related to his death? And what will Meryl Streep do to upset the community’s fragile balance?

These plotlines could be intriguing, but it’s unclear if they can match the power of the first season.

Streep would be the ideal replacement for any producer.

Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern in "Big Little Lies" |
Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern in “Big Little Lies” | Jennifer Clasen/HBO

We doubt any producer balk at the idea of losing a key character while adding on someone of Streep’s caliber for Season Two. Certainly, Witherspoon and Kidman (both executive producers) jumped at the chance to work with the best actress of her generation.

Still, Perry was the only male character who had a role as prominent as the leading ladies’ in Season One. It will be interesting to see how Moriarty and David E. Kelley framed the story this time around, assuming she didn’t rely heavily on flashbacks and dreams.

After all, everyone from Renata Klein (Laura Dern) to Bonnie, Maddie (Witherspoon), Celeste, and Jane found a way to rally against this common enemy. That’s quite a coalition (and quite an enemy).

We’ll have to see if they can remain together with someone like Streep pecking away at their unity. If anyone could do that while taking the place of a villain like Perry, we’d put our money on Streep.

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