I recently watched (and absolutely loved) two TV series; and since they are both adaptations of novels, I figured I’d do a review for them. [Btw, if you would like to see reviews of movies and TV series once in a while on this blog, do comment below.]
The two shows I watched are Big Little Lies (adaptated from the novel by Liane Moriarty) and 13 Reasons Why (adapted from the novel by Jay Asher).
Big Little Lies
Miniseries; 7 episodes
Firstly, I have not read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, though I have read her more popular novel The Husband’t Secret. I wasn’t hugely impressed by that book, and decided not to pick up anything else by Liane Moriarty (because let’s face it : there are much better thriller authors out there).
I watched the first episode of this show merely as a trial (and also because my friend couldn’t stop raving about it) and I was instantly hooked. After watching the first episode, I debated reading the novel before watching the rest of the series but then told myself to be realistic (coz that ain’t happening).
Big Little Lies is set in Monterey, and revolves around a bunch of mothers of first-graders and the big and little lies they all hide under their seemingly perfect lives. That’s pretty much all you need to know before you get into this show.
From the very start of the show, you know that it is centered around a murder (which is being investigated; shown by snippets of interrogation happening). You don’t know who’s killed right till the very last minutes of the show, and all the while you follow these mothers (and of course, their husbands and children) and their entwined lives.
This show isn’t about a crazy, intriguing, thrilling plot. It’s much more mellow, and yet the show manages to hook your attention and doesn’t let you look away from the screen. It has a basic plotline, and yet there are so many other storylines to follow. Each character has his/her own secret to hide, has his/her own storyline which adds importance to the show, and how all these stories come together is amazing.
The pacing, editing and cinematography is spectacular. I cannot tell you how hooked I was watching the show; it is series like this which proves that you don’t need a crazy, mind-fucking plot to keep you hooked to something. Also, watching the show makes me want to visit Monterey so much.
And, can we talk about the soundtrack? Because that is something fantastic. The background music just fits the mood of the show perfectly and enhances the experience of the show so much more. I especially, especially love the theme (opening) song : Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka.
Okay, when you’re talking about this show, you have to talk about the phenomenal casting and the performances. It was just beyond brilliant, the starcast and how amazing the performances they did. Reese Witherspoon as Madeline was easily my favorite (though I do confess I’m a little biased about her). She played her role with such ease and she looked so beautiful. I haven’t read the book so of course I don’t know how well she portrayed her character, but as a person who hasn’t read the book, I can say that there’s nothing more I could’ve wanted to see in a role like Madeline.
Can we take a moment to appreciate this beauty? Nicole Kidman (as Celeste) clearly had one of the toughest roles to play, and she pulled it off perfectly. Her character is so intriguing, and her acting is so measured and fitting to the role. Her grace and beauty are an added charm. The way she spoke and even when she didn’t have to say anything but just look, she did those with perfection.
Alexander Skarsgård as Perry (Celeste’s husband) has the most intimidating and menacing role in the show, and what perfection. His acting actually chills your bones, and his presence is felt even when he’s not on the screen. He doesn’t have much screen time, but he’s almost always on your mind. He just brings the picture of an abusive husband to such clarity and plays that role shockingly well.
I am not the hugest fan of Shailene Woodley, who plays Jane in the show, and initially in the show I did feel her acting was a bit flat. However, I soon warmed up to her, because she lived up to her character. Jane as a character doesn’t fit in with the other residents of Monterey, and Shailene Woodley makes sure to act her part.
The issues the show discusses, like domestic abuse and how abuse in a household can often trickle down to the kids and manifest itself in their behaviour are dealt with smartly. This I feel, is by far the most important discussion in the show and honestly, for me, trumps the ending climax of who murdered whom. I did love the climax scene, where the huge reveal about the murder is made, but I personally found a couple of other storylines more interesting than that.
All in all, this was a phenomenal TV miniseries. It’s just 7 episodes long, so it doesn’t take a lot of time to watch them (though I watched them as they came out, so took me 7 weeks). If you like drama and mystery combined, backed by amazing cast performances and a really good soundtrack, be sure to check this out!
13 Reasons Why
Season 1; 13 episodes
I read the novel by Jay Ahser at least three years ago, so no, I do not remember anything from the book. I of course knew what the storyline of the show was, but back when I read it (I was around thirteen then), the book did not have the hugest impact on me, so I did not remember most of the details. (So I won’t be making any comparisons between the book and the show.)
The story revolves around Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 reasons as to why she did so, all recorded on casette tapes to be passed on from one person (one reason) to another. It is part mystery, part devastating, and shockingly realistic and thought-provoking.
The story is very, very interesting. The way every episode is structured and ends in the perfect way (which makes you want to watch the next episode ASAP) is so good. Every episode raises new questions, and answers some. It is almost like a thriller, almost as chilling and dark and disturbing.
It’s a very relevant show (especially for young people) because it portrays things which actually happen, and how much they can break you. It raises questions about suicide, and how often, one small thing which could’ve gone differently could’ve completely changed the track of a person’s life; and at the end of the day, no matter what happens to you : how important it is to keep doing the right thing and never hurt someone purposefully. It is an appeal for the truth to come out in every single situation.
These seem like obvious things to state or talk about but the importance of doing good comes alive in this show. Also, things like how how you never know what might be going on in a person’s life is so well brought out through this story.
It’s a sad series, it’s disturbing in quite a few areas, but it’s a must watch. It’s backed by excellent acting by Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford who play the two lead roles and I found every single character to do justice to their roles.
I loved how the show keeps jumping between past and present, however there’s no scope of confusion between what is past and what is present. The transitions in the time zone are very well filmed, and the viewer instantly knows when the time shift happens. The one thing I did have a problem with, however, was the ‘gotcha’ moments of the show. Where a particular scene would play out but it would turn out to be Clay’s imagination (Clay is the male lead role.) The first few times this happened, I was fine with it but eventually, even the ‘gotcha’ moments became predictable.
The ending of the show left a lot to the imagination, and though a Season 2 is not completely necessary, I would still love it if they made a few more episodes just to clarify what exactly happens to everytime. All in all, I highly recommend this tv show. There is a trigger warning for assault and abuse, and if those things are something you’re not comfortable watching, I’d suggest you watch this show with caution.
That’s it for my review! Phew, I do not remember the last time I wrote such a long post :P
If you want to see more TV show/movie reviews, comment below!