HBO’s new miniseries Big Little Lies is a lot of things. It is a high-society murder mystery based on a book by bestselling author Liane Moriarty. It is a star-studded affair, featuring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Adam Scott, among others, and comes from a creative team including David E. Kelley and Gus Van Sant. It is a big swing by HBO as the network looks for ways to draw in viewers that don’t involve dragons or murderous cowboy robots. Although I guess we can’t really say there won’t be a dragon or murderous robot cowboy on Big Little Lies. Something to keep an eye on.
But anyway, in addition to all of those things, Big Little Lies is also a show about people staring into the ocean. Oh my God, so many people stare into the ocean on this show. To prove my point, I’ve rounded up every time a character did so in the premiere. I’ve also ranked them, because apparently I have opinions about people staring into the ocean. Who knew?
So grab a glass of wine, conjure up all the problems facing you and your wealthy family, and stare into the crashing waves with me for a few minutes. It’ll be fun. Ish.
These two shots are excluded from the rankings based on a technicality: neither really features anyone “staring” into “the ocean.” In the first, Reese gives the ocean a fleeting glance while riding in the car after twisting her ankle. (Side note: Reese’s character keeping her heels on all day after injuring her ankle instantly makes her tougher than most professional football players.) And Nicole is facing the ocean, sure, but more staring at her kids, through the viewfinder of the camera. I am only including them here to let you know that I am not including them. We have standards.
7. Reese Witherspoon and Adam Scott staring into the ocean while arguing
Pretty decent ocean staring, for the most part. Not too bad at all. Reese’s character is even having an existential crisis as she does so, which is a nice little touch. I feel like a solid 50-60 percent of personal crises are discussed while gazing into a body of water. That could be a little high. I watch a lot of shows about rich people.
But even as solid as this one is, it loses points for neither character holding an alcoholic beverage, and that’s why it comes in last. It’s a tough break, but Big Little Lies is the big leagues of ocean staring. Go big or go home.