The Modern Urge to Expand the Limited Series
Note: Written before Big Little Lies Season 2 aired. It’s a particularly common thread that gets drawn at the conclusion of a limited series. Articles and fans speculate on the possibility of a second season. Many publications title their postings “season 2 release date” just to reveal that nothing is fixed, and the creator and/or stars have only hinted at the possibility. For most, the idea quickly fades, and we move on. However, one series that stuck was Big Little Lies. Following its tremendous success at the 2017 Emmys, chatter about a continuation circulated. The first season incorporated the narrative of the novel, omitting certain plots points and totally eliminating characters, but rounded itself into an appropriate conclusion. So, why did the creators want a second season? Money and awards would be the main answer. Why would HBO not continue one of their biggest hits? With this decision, I worry that the series might lose its traction, especially given the new material that has to be written. In the trailer’s second season, we get a sense that someone or something is following/haunting the “Monterrey Five”. Seemingly making a reprise: how the ladies and town perceive each other. Is it also the main point this season…? The same way the first was a quiet type of thriller that augmented the dread that creeps with the unknown.
"Was a second season of this really necessary?" - Meryl Streep, I guess I’m worried that it may become a rehash of season one’s structure albeit without the constant mystery of not knowing who died. In this case, we are watching a sort of surreal anthology on the complex lives of Southern Californian women and not a fluent series. Regardless of what the second season brings, the characters of BLL lead the type of lives that can’t be wrapped up into a satisfying conclusion. Season one’s finale maintained a perfect combination of transparency and ambiguity. We have seen this type of second season before. Extensions that don’t need to happen. The Handmaid’s Tale concluded Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name in the first season, only for the arc and new material of the second season to falter. Stranger Things’ sophomore season relied too heavily on the aftermath of season one’s events and lost its steam. It didn’t push the narrative forward enough, in the same way, that say, Breaking Bad's expansive second season did. I would love to be proven wrong because the first season was stellar but renewing a show just opens more doors. I’m intrigued to see how they try to contain and round off this encore. Every story has the possibility of expansion; that's what makes them great entertainment. Think back on a recent limited series you have seen and if you were either frustrated by the conclusion, or simply wanted to see more. Television truly shines when creators resist the temptation to expand their stories, especially when it's well beyond its own means.
Big Little Lies Season 2 airs weekly from June 10.