Everyone is back, including Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Adam Scott, except for Alexander Skarsgard, at least in any regular capacity. Since he's dead, and all.
David E. Kelley wrote all seven episodes for the new season. Kelley, who was nominated for an Emmy for writing Big Little Lies season one and won one as executive producer on the then-limited series, wrote the new season from a novella done by Big Little Lies book scribe Liane Moriarty."We went to Liane [Moriarty, author of the original novel] and asked, ‘Do you see any more life in these characters? You wrote the book — do you see them having life beyond what you wrote?' She came up with a novella, which was key. David took it and thought, ‘Is there something I can do with it?' Reese and Nicole were involved, and they felt that there was more life in the characters. Everybody approached it from a place of love and care [for] these characters and this property, and again, with a little dose of skepticism along the way," HBO's president of programming, Casey Bloys, told Vulture.
As for the plot, this is how HBO describes the new season: "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."
Andrea Arnold will direct all seven episodes, taking over for Jean-Marc Valee, who directed the first season. Arnold won an Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action in 2005 for Wasp. She's helmed episodes of I Love Dick and Transparent, in addition to Wuthering Heights.
Season two picks up right where season one left off, with the women coming together on the beach, and is very much about the aftermath of everything that happened in the first season—the aftermath of abuse for Celeste, especially when the partner is dead, the aftermath of telling that lie about how Perry died, the aftermath of Jane's rapist finally being gone. It's about how people deal with trauma after the fact. Viewers will also go back in time and see what happened after the infamous push, according to scenes in the trailer.
"When we come back, their lives, like all of our lives, seem very well put together on the surface but then the fissures and the fractures being to emerge," EP David E. Kelley said. "Once the crevices start to widen, it escalates pretty quickly."
Streep plays Mary Louise, the mother of the deceased Perry, and she's looking for answers.
"I'm playing someone who is dealing with whatever the defecits of her parenting were, whatever the mysteries and how you can't go back in time and fix something, all those issues," she explained. "That was interesting to me."
While it may sound like her relationship with Celeste could be tricky, she said of their mother/daughter in law bond," I do love her, and that's the truth."
In the trailer, Meryl Streep's Mary Louise Wright says she wants answers, and she knows she's not going to get them from Madeline.
"My son is dead. I want to know what happened that night. I'm very tempted to ask you, but I don't think I would get the truth, would I?" Mary Louise says.
In the trailer, it's revealed Bonnie, Celeste, Madeline, Jane and Renata are now known as "the Monterey five."
Season one featured various other Monterey residents offering their observations about what was going on, but Kelley says that through season one, it felt as if that element needed to go away. It's no longer present in season two, which "changes the tone of it," though there's still a mix of comedy and drama.
Alongside Meryl as Mary Louise, several new characters have come to Monterey.
Crystal Fox plays Bonnie's mother Elizabeth, and Mo McRae plays second-grade teacher Michael Perkins.
Kelley says the second season doesn't so much broaden the world of the show but it deepens it to learn how the lie about Perry is going to "permeate the world of Monterey."
Kidman says we shouldn't compare season one to season two.
"It is its own entity and hopefully it will be taken that way," she said. "It was definitely made with an enormous amount of love."
In the trailer, Bonnie is seen talking to Madeline about, you know, the big little lie.
"It's going to get us. It's going to get us all," Bonnie says in the trailer. "Who are you talking about?" Madeleine asks. "The lie," Bonnie says.
Showrunner David E. Kelley told EW that the lie, obviously, plays a huge part.
"We left off with a lie, so it would have been disingenuous not to mine that lie for all its malignancy," he said. "It's going to result in more skewed fractures and fissures in the friendships between the women, some of the marriages, and some of the individual psyches."
"There's a cord and a core of stress that's pulsating through each of the women, some fueled and complicated by the lie, and some dependent on the lie," Kelley told EW.
Here's what that means for each of the women:
Celeste is dealing with nightmares, guilt, having to parent two boys while protecting them from the truth about their father, and with her mother-in-law there trying to figure out the truth.
"The one thing that [Nicole and I] were really adamant about was being truthful to the recovery of abuse because it's very complicated," Kelley said. Celeste's problems and scars don't just go away because her abuser is dead.
Bonnie, who was actually the person technically responsible for Perry's death, has emotionally shut down and isolated herself from her husband as she comes to terms with it.
"This season, we obviously go much, much deeper into who she is, where she came from, and exploring the consequences of her actions in year one and also maybe unearthing a little bit of who that person was that came to push Perry down the stairs, and why," Kelley said.
Madeline's marriage to Ed is in danger (even more danger than it was in last season) of unraveling, and her daughter Abigail (Kathryn Newton) appears to have chosen not to go to college.
Kelley says that in season two, Madeline will "Make you laugh, make you cry, be a bully in one scene, be a caretaker in another...it's quite a whirlwind."
Jane tries to move forward with a new romance with a colleague, but it doesn't go great because she still has to heal from having not only just discovered the identity of her rapist, but also having just watched him die.
"She's been through a great personal traumaa and she's got an internal fortitude," Kelley told EW. "She wants to plow through it—maybe plow through it too much without getting therapeutical help that would make her course easier—but she definitely is forward-thinking and has foot-forward positivity."
First of all, Renata finally has friends!
Laura Dern said it's "thrilling for Renata to have any friends," since she's now a part of the group instead of being such an outsider.
"It's really cute that Dern's character has girlfriends," Witherspoon said. "All she wants to do is drink wine."
But her happiness will apparently only last a couple of episodes, since this is a drama, after all.