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Did HBO Change the Ending of 'Big Little Lies' to Allow for a Third Season?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 23, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 23, 2019 |


I was thinking about writing about the courtroom scene in the Big Little Lies season finale today because I thought it was the single best thing about season two, which is ironic because the scene had no basis in legal reality, which is doubly ironic because a lawyer, David E. Kelley, wrote it. Then again, David E. Kelley often sacrifices reality for drama, which is ultimately a good thing for a television series. The sequence would not have had nearly as much impact if Mary Louise’s attorney had spent half the episode throwing up objections, most of which would have been sustained.

It made for good TV, and that’s what is important. Meryl Streep also made for good TV as the villain of Big Little Lies season two, although she did not like to be called a villain, according to Poorna Jagannathan, who played Celeste’s attorney this season. In an interview with Vanity Fair’s Still Watching (hosted by Pajiba alum and Podcast Queen Joanna Robinson), Jagannathan said that there was very little tension on the set during the second season (notwithstanding the Andrea Arnold controversy in post-production), save for Meryl Streep’s objections to some of Andrea Arnold’s notes.

The only whiff of tension Jagannathan reported from the set came from season two star Meryl Streep, who would push back on notes from her director. “Meryl wouldn’t entertain any comments that insinuated she was the villain,” Jagannathan explained. Streep wasn’t rude, but would protectively respond “that’s not of your business” when she got a note she disagreed with. That’s fine for a multiple Oscar winner—but Jagannathan jokes that she would be fired very quickly if she tried something similar.

Jagannathan was unusually candid in that interview, particularly for someone who could theoretically return for a third season, should there be one. For her part, Jagannathan believes there could be one, based on the ending, which is not the ending she read in her script. “I read the script and I watched yesterday’s episode and I was like, ‘Oh my god there might be a season three!’ It’s not the script I got! One character doesn’t even make it. One character dies. It’s a different script. This version left the door open on something I thought was definitely closed.”

Jagannathan doesn’t reveal who died in her script (which could have been a fake), although many would assume it was Bonnie, who at times seemed to be headed in that direction this season. Joanna speculates that HBO might have decided against killing Bonnie off because of the criticism the show has received over its treatment of its one major character of color, played by Zoe Kravitz, and Jagannathan would seem to agree. “It’s a very well-written show some scenes and characters are underwritten. The aspect of color is introduced but not explored.”

As for the Andrea Arnold controversy? Jagannathan suggests there are “multiple sides” to that story, and that knowing just Andrea Arnold’s side and HBO’s side doesn’t necessarily offer a complete picture.

Source: Joanna F**king Robinson

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: HBO