All right, here we go. HBO ran this sucker with a cast of well-known actors, a seven episode series (at first) with a single writer (David E. Kelley) and director (Jean-Marc Vallee), over the sort of prestige drama that only a network with money to burn can put on TV.
And it did well enough for HBO to ask for a second season. Not too shabby.
So, what’s it about?
Well, it’s about a murder in a wealthy town after a school fundraiser of some kind. Who was killed? This episode doesn’t say. Who did it? Also doesn’t say that. Much of what we do see is a lot of gossip and backbiting coming from various parents for kids at the school. One woman tripping might have set the whole thing in motion. Or it didn’t. At the center are four women, all mothers. They are:
- Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon), a hard-charging woman of means. She has two daughters, a somewhat rebellious teenager she worries likes her father and his new wife (Zoe Kravitz) more, while her other daughter she had with her second husband Ed (Adam Scott). Madeline seems like the sort of woman who sticks by her friends by likewise doesn’t let anyone push her around. She’s…passionate about things, and clearly wasn’t happy there was a petition against her community theater production of Avenue Q. She may be the prime suspect. If she isn’t, she’s the one the other parents like the least.
- Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman), a retired lawyer, mother to twins the same age as Madeline’s younger daughter. She has a younger husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), who she slobbers all over…but then by episode’s end, he’s seeming a little controlling in a bad way. This marriage may not be all its cracked up to be. She’s Madeline’s best friend.
- Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), a young single mother who just moved to town for as-yet unknown reasons. She has a son named Ziggy and isn’t very well off, sleeping on a futon while her son gets the lone bedroom in her house from the looks of things. She stopped to pick up Madeline and her daughter Chloe after Madeline tripped and twisted her ankle in the street while berating some teens for texting while driving (and Madeline’s older daughter Abigail was in the backseat).
- Renata Klein (Laura Dern), an outsider to the other three listed above, she’s a successful career mom to a little girl in the same fourth grade class.
So, what happened? Well, on the first day of school, Renata’s daughter Amabella accused Ziggy of trying to choke her. Ziggy denied it. Renata and Jane both sided with their respective children. Madeline likewise sided with her new friend Jane. And somehow, maybe, this all leads to murder.
Let’s see how this goes.