In the age of #PeakTV it’s become extremely rare for a show to hit the zeitgeist in a way that gets everyone talking. Usually everyone’s watching different shows at different times, and the days of “watercooler TV” are out the window save for a precious few series. Big Little Lies was one of those shows, which was originally intended as a limited series but was such a hit on HBO that the network not only paid up for a second season, but enlisted Andrea Arnold to direct and Meryl Streep to co-star.
The Emmy-winning series originated with stars/producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who decided to option the source material themselves because they noted the lack of quality material that was being sent to them. If Hollywood wouldn’t provide worthwhile roles, they’d find them and make them themselves. That worked out tremendously, and while production is about to get underway on Big Little Lies Season 2, Witherspoon and Kidman have set up two new, separate TV projects to ensure they’ve got more meaty roles on the horizon.
First there’s Kidman, who’s returning to HBO for the limited series The Undoing, based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz book You Should Have Known. Kidman reunites with Big Little Lies writer/showrunner David E. Kelley on the project, who will write, executive produce, and showrun The Undoing.
The story finds Kidman playing a successful therapist on the brink of publishing her first book whose life is thrown into chaos through a chain of events: a violent death, a missing husband, and a series of troubling revelations. There’s no timetable set for the limited series, but it will likely be a priority for HBO as Big Little Lies Season 2 comes to a close, and it’s a nice way for the network to keep part of that BLL family together for another high-profile adaptation.
Witherspoon, meanwhile, is teaming up with Kerry Washington to produce and star in an adaptation of the Celeste Ng bestseller Little Fires Everywhere. Witherspoon and Washington decided to work together when they discovered they both wanted to make the project, and a bidding war ensued when they shopped it to suitors. Hulu came away with the rights, and Liz Tigelaar (Casual) will write and serve as showrunner and executive producer.
The limited series chronicles the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Again no timetable is given, but Witherspoon could certainly move on to this after wrapping Big Little Lies Season 2.
As female-fronted stories light up both the big and small screen, it’s nice seeing women like Witherspoon and Kidman taking matters into their own hands and creating engrossing, complex stories. So if you’re bummed that Big Little Lies might be over after Season 2, rest assured there’s plenty more where that came from.