For the past seven weeks, if you’ve been keen enough to hop aboard, there’s been a fantastic mystery afoot over on the premium cable portion of your television (or computer, or phone, or whatever) in the star-studded adaption of Liane Moriarty’s novel, Big Little Lies, brought to us from TV veteran David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Legal), director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) and Reese Witherspoon, who executive produced and also starred in the series.
The limited miniseries came to an extremely satisfying end last night (I haven’t spoken to or read anything from anyone who’s been upset, largely, at all yet), and now that it’s over, what better human impulse to fall into than rank the characters in it? In a series that’s about interpersonal small-town politics and pettiness, ranking the characters by their sheer likability feels right.
So that being said, this post is going to be chock-full of SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the show, what the hell are you still reading this for? Get out!
Before we get this started, just a few guidelines for these rankings: this show has a lot of characters. We’re going to keep the ranking field limited to the nine main characters in the cast—that means none of the catty, gossip-filled townspeople (the principal would rank high, because he’s got some fire jokes) and none of the kids either (Ziggy would be hella low, because he’s not the most sympathetic child). If you’ve got grievances with this list? Bring it on. Let’s get after it:
9. Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård)
Fuck this guy.
8. Gordon Klein (Jeffrey Nordling)
Lazy a-hole, threatening to women—only slightly funny in a ‘this guy is a degenerate’ kind of way.
7. Nathan Carlson (James Purdley)
Pretty much just a dick, but at least kind of seems like he’s trying to be a good father, even if he fails. Negative points for trying to start fights with Adam Scott, and generally being petty and lame. Why is Zoë Kravitz with him again?
6. Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon)
NOTE: Reese Witherspoon is amazing. Her Big Little Lies instantly joins the ‘legendary-Reese’ status, alongside things like Election and Legally Blonde and Walk The Line. But let’s be real, as entertaining as it was to watch Madeline’s antics week-in and week-out, she’s kiiiind of a shitty person, cheating on her husband, lying a lot, etc. (although her confidence in both herself and willingness to stand up for and with her friends is admirable).
5. Renata Klein (Laura Dern)
Laura Dern is also great, and Renata Klein is also a shitty person. Dern did a really good job showing that beneath every of the ‘Type A’ personalities like Klein (and we all know the people like this), there is a person underneath, with real problems. Doesn’t change the fact that she was mean a lot though.
4. Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott)
I’m team Adam Scott through thick and thin. The man could play a serial Muppet killer or something and I would still rank him high on a list. Ed is a little weird sometimes, and it says something when you truly thought anyone in the series could have been either the perp or the victim, but in the end he was harmless, and just wanted to be recognized by his often cold wife.
3. Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley)
The black sheep of the show. We, the viewers, are Jane—we entered the world with her, and we leave it with her immersion. We ARE Jane. Her kid is a little psycho, regardless of if he’s guilty or not of hurting Renata and Gordon’s daughter, but given the circumstances, that’s OK. I had my doubts about Shailene Woodley at the start of this, but she really nailed it.
2. Bonnie Carlson (Zoë Kravitz)
She didn’t rip Madeline’s head off when she asked if Sade music was Adele, and she did that thing in the last episode. Boom. Done.
1. Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman)
GIVE NICOLE KIDMAN EVERY AWARD FOR THIS PART. My god she was so good and it was such a joy to root for her through this whole thing. The best acting I’ve seen, probably, of a victim of abuse, and she played every little detail, down to the tiniest facial expressions, perfectly. I’m gonna go ahead and say it: Nicole Kidman’s role in Big Little Lies makes up ENTIRELY for Nicole Kidman’s weird-ass clap.
Photos courtesy of HBO