The Biggest Changes to HBO’s ‘Big Little Lies’ in Season 2

There a tricky aspect to a star-studded limited series like HBO’s Big Little Lies. On the one hand, you love the fact so many great actors got together for the same show and the creative team pulled it off with hardly a flaw.

However, since BLL was as a hit on every level — including four Golden Globes and eight Emmys — it made everyone hunger for another installment. Even if you managed to get the leads back for Season Two, you’d worry about equaling the power of the first go-round.

Once creator David E. Kelley had more Liane Moriarty material to work with, the project began to take shape. After Meryl Streep committed to joining the cast, it seemed wrong to let the opportunity go.

Producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman took care of the rest. Still, it won’t be the same as the first season of Big Little Lies. Two key changes could have an impact on the show for Season Two.

Emmy-winning director Jean-Marc Vallée wasn’t at the helm for Season 2.

‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 | HBO

Among the show’s Emmy winners for Season One, director Jean-Marc Vallée nabbed one of the big awards for Outstanding Directing. Vallée was at the helm for each of the seven episodes in the first installment, and the results spoke for themselves.

Vallée has been on quite a run in recent years. After directing Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013), for which he received an Oscar nomination, he produced and directed Demolition starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Following BLL’s first season, he directed Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson in HBO’s acclaimed Sharp Objects.

Fans of any of these projects recognize Vallée’s unique visual style and attention to detail via sound design. It will be interesting to see how Big Little Lies looks (and sounds) without him.

HBO didn’t exactly gamble with the second installment. For starters, Vallée worked as an executive producer on Season Two. Meanwhile, his replacement, Andrea Arnold, has an Oscar (Best Short Film) to her name and credits that include Transparent, American Honey, and Fish Tank.

The addition of Meryl Streep — and subtraction of Alexander Skarsgard

Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep duel in Season 2. | HBO

When you have a three-time Oscar winner and living legend like Meryl Streep join your cast, it’s always a net positive. Streep plays the mother of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), the abusive husband/father who met his end in the Season One finale.

Streep comes to town looking for answers and expressing concern for her grandchildren who’ve lost a father. We expect a healthy dose of Streep jousting with Kidman, who had been the object of Perry’s manhandling. (At the close of Season One, she’d prepared to leave him for good.)

Of course, given his fate, Skarsgard (who won the Best Supporting Actor Emmy) won’t be a regular in Season Two. It will be interesting to see if his absence creates a void in the ensemble cast. The relationship between Perry and Celeste (Kidman) dictated a great deal of the action in the first installment.

While Big Little Lies fans might worry that the second go-round won’t match the power of the first, the producers tried their hardest to make sure there was no letdown. We’ll see how it turned in June.

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