Let's Talk Reese Witherspoon vs. Meryl Streep in the Big Little Lies Season 2 Premiere

This is a war we are happy to support.

By Lauren Piester Jun 10, 2019 2:00 AMTags
Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Big Little LiesHBO

Never has a TV rivalry brought us so. much. joy.

Big Little Lies season two is here, and there's a lot to love and to be ever so grateful for. The first episode wasn't big in the way of plot, as it was mostly spent getting us up to speed on where everyone's been since the end of season one, but it was very big in terms of two particular characters. (Three, if you count just the general existence of Renata Klein/Laura Dern.) 

Much has been made of the arrival of Meryl Streep, and yes, she's majestic, but it's when Meryl's Mary Louise Wright shares scenes with Reese Witherspoon's Madeline Martha Mackenzie that the show comes alive in a new way. Take, for instance, their first exchange. 

"Big Little Lies" Guys Tease Season 2: "The Men Are All Saints"

Madeline: How are you?

Mary Louise: I can't complain. Actually, I can. My son is dead. 

Madeline: But Celeste tells me that you continue to be so helpful with her and the boys.

Mary Louise: She should just get a proper housekeeper. You're very short. 

Madeline: Excuse me?

Mary Louise: I don't mean in a negative way...Maybe I do. I find little people to be untrustworthy. My apologies. It's just that I pride myself on being a very good judge of character but you have always presented such a difficult read. You know, you seem like a nice person, loving. But also you strike me as a wanter. 

Madeline: A wanter?

Mary Louise: Mhmm. You know, there are people in life who content themselves with what they have and then there are others who just...they just want.


Madeline: I'm not a wanter.

Mary Louise: Oh, you don't have to take it personally. Anyway, I'm a wanter myself. You know what I want? I want Perry back. I want to know what happened that night. And I'm very tempted to ask you, but I doubt I would get the truth, would I? 

Madeline: Your son lost his balance and he fell. 

Mary Louise: Yes, that seems to be the company line, depending on whose company you keep. 


Later, Mary Louise arrived at the real estate agency where Madeline works and greeted her with, "I see you're wearing heels," and Madeline wasn't about to take crap from anybody.

Madeline: Mary Louise, I realize that you're still grieving and that you've been through a tremendous amount of heartbreak, but I don't care for the way you spoke to me before. It was rude, and I didn't deserve it. 

Mary Louise: No, you didn't. I apologize. 

Madeline: Well thank you.

Mary Louise: Truth is, it had nothing to do with you. When I was in boarding school, I had a best friend, or so I thought, who revealed herself to be quite treacherous and caused me a lot of pain. So she was just a itty bitty little thing with a big, bubbly personality that was designed to hide that she was utterly vapid inside. You remind me so much of her, I suppose I punished you for that. That's wrong of me and I apologize. 

Cue Madeline's stunned face, and cue us bowing down to Meryl's casual but scalding burns. 

Having seen the next two episodes, we can tell you she gets even better, Madeline fights back harder, and everything gets just a little crazier. 

Welcome back, moms of Monterey. Oh how we have missed you. 

Big Little Lies airs Sundays on HBO.