Big Little Lies had big little changes.
HBO's buzzy drama starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley aired its finale on Sunday night, bringing the gorgeous adaptation of Liane Moriarty's juicy 2014 bestseller about a murder and school politics at an elementary school to a deadly close.
As huge fans of the novel, we were happy with the changes made during the seven-episode run, from the smaller tweaks to the bigger liberties, which all only added to this delicious and dark tale of a first grade fundraiser turned crime scene.
1. In the novel, Madeline (Witherspoon) and Ed (Adam Scott) are relatively drama-free in the marriage department. Not so in the show, with Madeline cheating on her husband with Joseph, the director of Avenue Q.
Why add the scandal to an already scandal-packed school community? "I didn't have anything to play but perfection, and I just think those people who are perfect [are] all full of shit," Witherspoon, who secured the rights to the novel and served as an executive producer, told Variety. "[The change] mainly came out of me not having anything to really put my teeth into. I think there's something fascinating about a person who projects perfection or is very judgmental of others who is clearly just swimming in their own discontent."
2. While just the five women were present when Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) met his demise, Ed and Nathan (James Tupper) were also at the scene of the crime in the novel. Also, Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) was the one to deliver the final push to Perry in both the book and the show, but she confessed to the assault in the novel and received 200 hours of community service after the women come up with a story. Oh, and Bonnie pushed him off of a balcony in the book, making the shove more deliberate as she had a history of domestic violence in her backstory.
3. Abigail (Kathryn Newton), Madeline's teenage daughter (Ugh!), auctioned off her virginity for charity in the book as well, but rather than call it off herself like in the show, Celeste posed as an elderly person who donated $100,000 if she agreed to stop the auction.
4. Celeste's son Max was also the secret bully in the novel, but it wasn't Ziggy who revealed the news to Jane, who relayed it to Celeste, but Max's twin brother, Josh.
5. Small but notable: Jane chopped her hair into a cute pixie cut just ahead of the big charity event, a la Audrey Hepburn's iconic chop in Roman Holiday. In the show, she attends as Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's character, chic updo and all.
6. In the book, Perry never attends therapy sessions with Celeste, who always went to solo sessions. As for the huge Saxon Banks reveal, both Celeste and Madeline knew the name, as it was one of Perry's cousins whom they suspected may be Jane's rapist (and never tell her). On the balcony, the realize Perry used his cousin's name as an alias.
7. The series ended with the five women, bonded and hanging on the beach with their kids. In the book, readers see more of Celeste's post-Perry life. She lives in the apartment she got while preparing to leave him, returned to her lawyer career and begins working as a victims advocate.
Here are the list of changes that were made ahead of the first episode:
1. While all of Moriarty's books are set in Australia, the setting for HBO's BLL moves from the land down under to Monterey, Calif., but keeping the small beach town vibe (with house porn. So. Much. House. Porn.).
"That was a big, conscious choice," Witherspoon said in an interview with Variety of the move. "I think we all agreed that [Monterey] brought more of the sense of a small community where everybody talks about each other."
2. The book focuses mainly on the three women played by Witherspoon, Kidman and Woodley, but the series expands the POVs a bit, and viewers will get to know a lot more about Renata (Laura Dern) and Bonnie, really making it a show about five women.
3. One of the school's working moms, Renata's job was bumped up from a pretty big deal in the financial world in the books to CEO of a major company in the TV show. And Madeline's rarely mentioned part-time job in the books gets a bigger role in the show, too, with the queen bee attempting to stage a production of Avenue Q, but facing petitions and push-back.
4. Also getting a little more depth, in addition to Renata and Bonnie? The husbands, namely Madeline's (Witherspoon) husband Ed, who no longer seems to be a journalist, and ex-husband Nathan, as well as Renata's husband, get a bit more screentime than anticipated.
5. The TV series age the children characters up from kindergarten to first grade. Not a major change, but it does help to give them more realistic personalities. The show also ages up Madeline's oldest daughter Abigail a few years, and gets rid of Madeline's son altogether. Rough twist, Fred! (Originally, the character of Jane, played by Woodley, could've been aged up too, as Witherspoon thought she would want to take on the single mother role.)
6. Sadly, there is no erotic book club, like in the novel.
7. While a small change, it's not Madeline's 40th birthday on the day where all the action begins, which offered major insight into the character in Moriarty's book.
(Originally published Feb. 17, 2017 at 9:38 a.m. PST)