As any mother can tell you, sometimes the struggle is very real. Especially in today’s world where moms are expected to keep up with ever-changing diet recommendations, judgement from their fellow mamas and a work-life balance that isn’t particularly family friendly.
But despite generations of moms knowing all of this, it’s only recently that they’re starting to take the spotlight in TV and film. First came Mila Kunis‘s Bad Moms, then came the CBC comedy Working Moms. And now, thanks to the star power of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley, we’ve got Big Little Lies on tap for this weekend.
The seven-part HBO drama stars the actresses (along with Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz) as mothers in Monterey, Calif., who come into contact when their children begin first grade. Through a series of unfortunate events we quickly learn that not only is life hard for these women for a variety of reasons, but they’re also somehow involved in a murder.
Oh, and did we mention that Alexander Skarsgård (a.k.a. Eric from True Blood) and Adam Scott (a.k.a. Ben from Parks and Recreation) also star?
It’s all based on the best-selling book by Liane Moriarty, who originally based the story in Australia (where Kidman is from). Thanks to its popularity and unique insights into motherhood, both Kidman and Witherspoon — moms themselves — became instant fans, turning this thing into a passion project.
“Reading the novel for the first time, I saw myself in different stages of motherhood all through my life. So I was a mom when I was 22, and then I was a mom who was 40. I’ve been divorced, I’ve been remarried. There were just so many aspects of it that were so relatable to the lives of women,” Witherspoon says. “The really amazing part was actually digging deep into the lives of women. It wasn’t about them being good or bad. It’s just that they showed every spectrum, every color of women’s lives. And I thought that was a really unique opportunity to have so many incredible parts for women in one piece of material.”
“There’s just such an array of emotions in this piece, and that’s what we were excited to show,” Kidman adds. “We were excited to show the lives of these women in a very authentic way, and, yet, entertaining way.”
In the pilot episode we will definitely see all that and more. Between Witherspoon’s Madeline character trying to relate to a teenager all while her youngest pulls away emotionally; Kidman’s Celeste trying to keep it all together for rambunctious twins and an absent husband; and Woodley’s Jane dealing with mom-bullying on the schoolyard on the very first day, there’s a lot to take in. In a campy-but-dramatic kind of way, of course.
“It was such a unique opportunity to have women of every age, every colour talking about motherhood. And that is sort of a common denominator. Motherhood is the great equalizer,” Witherspoon says. “Parenthood is a great equalizer, and socioeconomically, it sort of brings these five disparate women together in a way that they clash, but they also understand and discover each other as similar spirits by the end of the series. And I think that’s what I’m always looking for, something new, and something challenging.”
“As much as there is conflict between us, when you see the full seven hours, there’s pieces about women helping each other and supporting each other, which was very important to Reese and me,” Kidman adds. “Reese and I are very close friends and we’re able to talk about anything. I love that this is about women coming together and making something happen very quickly, with friendship being the core of it. At this stage in my career… I want to be contributing and working with people that I like and love, and this is this was the perfect combination.”