Big Little Lies may have landed with a ripple here in the UK but over in America it was one of the biggest shows of 2017. Catch a glimpse of one of its posters and you’d be forgiven for assuming it was a movie. Among the cast are Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (who both produced), Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern – and each woman had a meaty role to play. Over its seven parts, Big Little Lies was a masterclass in female-led drama, charting the residents of this small town in the lead-up to a murder at a school fundraiser, and creating female characters with real depth beneath their polished, manicured surface.
But Adam Scott, who played the on-screen husband of Witherspoon’s foul-mouthed town busybody Madeleine, believes that certain critics didn’t give the show its fair dues.
“It was interesting, right out of the gate, to see the reaction from some male critics and the dismissive tone of some of those reviews which clearly is not getting what the show was and immediately pushing it off to the side.
“Taste is taste, and whether you like something or not is completely legitimate – every person has their own taste – but it went beyond that into this misogynistic place where I’m sure, or I’m hoping, guys didn’t even know that they were being misogynistic.
“It really was just sort of taking this show and immediately adding it up and thinking they knew exactly what it was.
“I’m not trying to say if you don’t like this show you’re a misogynist – I’m saying the tone in which some of them were dismissing it was pretty bold.”
In contrast to those reviews, Scott believes Big Little Lies is a “really profound example” of how well women can be represented on screen – when given the time and space to develop.
“Episode after episode these characters keep opening up and the audience gets to see yet another dimension of these people and gets to see their strenghts. They’re not there to provide dimensions to a man in the show. They’re there to provide dimensions to themselves and if anything the men in the show were there to provide dimensions to the women.
“But you realise how backwards it is when you see a show like this and you see these female characters week after week unravelling and each week we get to learn more and more about these people. You realise how short-shrifted women are on screen.”
Ever since its finale aired in America earlier this month, rumours have swirled that a second series of Big Little Lies is in the works. Liane Moriarty – who wrote the novel on which the series is based – has even admitted to being approached by HBO to “come up with some ideas” for a possible follow-up. And Scott is certainly keen to reprise his role: “The whole thing was great – it was a terrific job and I would jump at the chance to work with those people again.”
While playing loyal and dutiful Ed offered him a rare chance at a dramatic role, Scott is, of course, better known for his comedic work, playing Amy Poehler’s on-screen husband Ben Wyatt in long-running sitcom Parks and Recreation.
The show acted as a launch pad for many of its cast which also included Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza. Do they still keep in touch?
“Absolutely, we’re all on a text chain together – just about every day we keep in touch. It’s kind of a constant stream of conversation that’s still going, it’s really lovely. I think that we were connected and with each other all day every day for so long that it would have just been strange to not be in each other’s lives any more. We don’t see each other as much, just because everyone’s busy and in different places, but we’re constantly in touch.”
Beloved by critics in the States when it aired, Parks and Rec never captured the sort of viewing figures enjoyed by The US Office with which it’s often compared. But it inspires a special loyalty among fans. “It’s a very sweet and optimistic show,” says Scott, “and I think it’s made by good people for good people so that’s something that I think makes it great. There’s an inherent goodness to it and there are really funny jokes and it’s not afraid of a good fart joke. There’s something there for everybody.”
The final series fast-forwarded into the future, showing Poehler’s local government official Leslie Knope rise through the ranks to serious political power with Ben by her side. But for any fans hoping for a return, the sign-off felt pretty conclusive. “I think the story was told. It went pretty far as far as showing us all together as a group of people – [the characters] were still in touch which was really nice and I hope in real life that’s the way it is too.”
Leslie Knope did, however, make a brief reappearance in the days after Donald Trump was voted US president, penning a letter to America in reaction to the election results.
But how does Scott think she’d have fared with Big Little Lies’ waspish residents of Monterey? “She would have burrowed a hole right through the middle of them and somehow taken over and made them all a little bit nicer to each other.”
Now there’s an idea for series two…
Big Little Lies is now available on digital download