Who gave the best performance this week in the second episode of HBO’s “Big Little Lies”? “Serious Mothering,” like all seven episodes in the limited series, was written by multi-Emmy winner David E. Kelly and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. But who was the MVP in front of the camera? Vote below in our poll.
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Last week in episode one, “Somebody’s Dead,” we learned of a mysterious death in an affluent community, then flashed back to a group of women led by Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) dropping their children off at first-grade orientation. Madeline befriends Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), who’s new to town and whose son is accused of choking the daughter of influential mother Renata Klein (Laura Dern). We also meet Madeline’s best friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and ex-husband Nathan (James Tupper), who is married to younger free-spirit Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz). Madeline is also remarried, to Ed (Adam Scott).
In “Serious Mothering,” tensions rise further as Madeline lashes out at Bonnie (Kravitz) for taking her daughter to Planned Parenthood without telling her. She also continues to work on getting “Avenue Q” produced at the local community theater and declares war against Renata after Jane’s son was the only one in their children’s class not invited to her daughter’s birthday party. Viewers also learned how tumultuous Celeste’s marriage to her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) actually is. And Ed (Scott) has it out with both Madeline and her ex-husband.
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While it is impressive to watch Witherspoon shed the “girl next door” image that she has made a career out of, the true standout of “Serious Mothering” for me is not one of the mothers but the actor who plays her husband, Adam Scott. Best known for his performance on “Parks and Recreation,” Scott more than holds his own with Witherspoon as he demands to know if he is her one true love. But it’s the scene opposite Tupper as he reminisces about being bullied where we see that he’s not threatened by his wife’s past. If Scott should land his first Emmy nomination this would make a great potential Emmy episode submission for the comedian showing new depths.
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