Though it premiered at the beginning of 2017, Big Little Lies continues to dominate the pop culture conversation, scooping up the top prizes throughout awards season and centering its stars and producers in the middle of important dialogues about power and gender dynamics in Hollywood.
Given the show’s success, it’s not surprising HBO decided to renew Big Little Lies for a second season—despite labeling it a limited series for awards consideration (and causing drama within several voting bodies, of course). There’s also the question of whether the show actually needs a second outing—why mess with a near-perfect season of standalone television?
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It all comes down to whether Reese, Nicole, and co. can pull it off. Since they seem to love the moms of Monterrey as much as we do (they’re even bringing Meryl Streep along for the ride come Season 2), we have high hopes for another season of quality prestige drama.
Here’s everything we know about Season 2 of Big Little Lies thus far:
1) It will air in 2019.
HBO programming president Casey Bloys confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month that Big Little Lies won’t return until next year. Production will begin this March and finish in August.
2) It will be very different from Season 1.
In response to a question about new characters for Season 2, Bloys told THR, “I don’t think anybody involved is thinking we’re going to do the same thing,” he said. “In any second season of a show, people want to see growth in the characters and storylines… We’re trying to progress everybody’s lives in the storytelling.” So, yes to a new plot and new characters.
Here’s how HBO describes the new season, per THR:
“The subversive, darkly comedic drama Big Little Lies will explore the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. Relationships will fray, loyalties will erode … the potential for emotional and bodily injury shall loom.”
It’s a vague description, but it sounds an awful lot like Season 1.
3) Most of the main cast is either confirmed to return or nearing deals.
Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon will both return as executive producers and stars (reprising their roles as Celeste Wright and Madeline Martha Mackenzie, respectively), and David E. Kelley has already written all seven scripts. Author Liane Moriarty, who wrote the original book, wrote a novella on which the Season 2 storyline is partially based.
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Deadline reported earlier this week that Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley are negotiating to return in their roles of Renata Klein and Jane Chapman, respectively. THR confirmed Zoe Kravitz will return as Bonnie.
4) Meryl Streep will play Perry’s mother.
Even Oscar’s most-nominated performer wants in on HBO’s cultural juggernaut. EW revealed earlier this week that Meryl Streep is joining the second season of Big Little Lies as Mary Louise Wright, Perry’s mother and Celeste’s mother-in-law.
Deadline has a tiny nugget of information about Mary Louise’s role within the larger BLL narrative:
Concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son Perry’s death, Mary Louise arrives in Monterrey searching for answers.
Our TVs might explode when Celeste and Mary Louise finally go at it.
5) How Celeste and Madeline deal with the aftermath of Perry’s death will be a major focal point for the season.
Season 1 famously ended with the death of Celeste’s abusive husband, Perry, following a dramatic, devastating face-off between him and Celeste, Madeline, Jane, Renata, and Bonnie. It’s a complex, deeply affecting climax that will undoubtedly influence BLL’s characters in differing, perhaps traumatizing ways. It’s natural for Season 2 to focus on that.
EW reports that Perry’s death will have a profound affect on the long-suffering Celeste, who will grapple with her complicated grief while trying to move on with her life:
“Reeling from her husband Perry’s death, Celeste is adrift, but determined to fight for her family and find the woman she once was.”
Madeline will also have to reckon with the aftermath of what she witnessed:
“Finding that good intentions don’t always yield good consequences, Madeline confronts the truth of Perry’s death, while coming to terms with her own marriage and traditional notions of family.”
It sounds like Madeline and Ed are still having issues.
6) There will be at least four new characters in addition to Mary Louise.
In December, Vulture reported casting was underway for several new roles:
A new teacher at Otter Bay Elementary School, Michael Perkins, who (of course) butts heads with Renata when he scares Amabella with talk of global warming. A woman who works for the school and becomes close friends with Jane.Elizabeth and Martin Howard, Bonnie’s parents(!!!). In Big Little Lies the book, Bonnie’s father was abusive, and this is how she recognizes signs of abuse between Perry and Celeste. According to Vulture, Elizabeth is the abusive parent, while Martin is “distant,” something father and daughter will reckon with in the face of a family emergency. Fingers crossed the casting gods hear Twitter’s Lisa Bonet prayers.
7) Alexander Skarsgard will probably make an appearance.
TVLine reports Skarsgard is “expected to return in some capacity,” and while it seems likely these appearances would be exclusively flashbacks, Skarsgard teased a different theory on the Golden Globes red carpet. “I don’t even know if I’m really dead or not,” he coyly told People in January.” I feel okay right now but we’ll see.”
Director Andrea Arnold at Cannes in 2016. Getty Images
8) Andrea Arnold will direct all seven episodes.
One of the criticisms lobbed at Big Little Lies Season 1 was its use of a male director (Jean-Marc Vallée, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series for the show and will executive produce Season 2). That’s been rectified for BLL’s second outing, with Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold slated to direct all seven episodes.
9) Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman will make $1 million per episode.
As stars and executive producers, Witherspoon and Kidman will each receive between around $1 million per episode for Season 2, a direct result of Witherspoon’s pricey Apple deal (she’ll reportedly receive $1.25 million per episode for her new 20-episode series with Jennifer Aniston), according to THR. Witherspoon and Kidman each received around $250,000 to $350,000 per episode for Season 1. Shailene Woodley, who made $1.7 million total for Season 1, will also get a raise, while Zoe Kravitz, who earned $380,000 for the show’s first run, will make $3 million total for Season 2.
10) It might not be the last season.
Though it’s obviously early to speculate on a third or fourth outing for the show, Bloys told THR if the cast’s schedules manage to align, future seasons might be possible.