Jun 08
2019

As we all know, the second season of “Big Little Lies” will premiere this Sunday on HBO, and the reviews coming in make it even a bit more eager-anticipated. A collection focused on Meryl’s performance is below, alongside new production stills from the series.

Vanity Fair, Sonia Saraiya (June 05, 2019)
Streep’s performance – erratic, buttoned-up, and confrontational – is going to win her an Emmy. She’s mesmerizing as the grieving Mary Louise; in one scene with Celeste and her grandsons, she encourages them to scream to release their emotions, then demonstrates herself. To Maddie’s consternation, Mary Louise is impossible to intimidate; the older woman makes faces and sucks in her teeth, responding to the pressure to conform with the strength of weirdness. Watching Streep go toe-to-toe with Witherspoon—who, with catty, self-deluded Maddie, is doing some of her career-best work—is Olympic-level barb-trading, the most satisfying meanness in the show.

Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall (June 05, 2019)
Working under a muted brown wig, with a clipped and slightly nasal voice, Streep is a passive-aggressive wonder as Mary Louise. The character as written can be cartoonishly awful at times, even though she’s meant to be processing grief over her son — and struggling with the news that her sweet boy grew up to be a wife-beater and a rapist. But Streep finds nuance in the awfulness while also going big when moments call for it. (You won’t forget the sound of her screaming anytime soon.)

USA Today, Kelly Lawler (June 07, 2019)
Lots of praise and attention will be given to Streep, but in many ways, the Oscar-winning actress is incidental to the success of Season 2. She’s wonderful, as she almost always is, but the real joy of “Lies” is the five core women, who have made their characters feel so lived in. For once, Hollywood has found a way to gracefully re-create a phenomenon.

The Globe and Mail, John Doyle (June 07, 2019)
Streep is shockingly good here, as you might expect. Mary Louise is a demon in mousy disguise. There’s a beautiful scene in the first episode in which she’s chatting amiably with Madeline (Witherspoon.) It seems inconsequential until Mary Louise sizes up Madeline, remarks on how short she is and announces, “I find little people to be untrustworthy.” This is one icily determined and dangerous mother-in-law.

The New York Times, James Poniewozik (June 06, 2019)
Streep could play a parking meter and imbue it with human depth. Her passive-aggressive line readings and gestures (worrying a little gold crucifix on a chain as she passes judgment) are pristine. She’s drab and terrifying, a shark in a cardigan. In the first episode, she erupts from a meek smile into a shriek of grief, and that sound is the wail of every actress who will have to go up against her at the Emmys.

Entertainment Weekly, Darren Franich (June 05, 2019)
There’s a lot to enjoy, though. Director Andrea Arnold crafts a complicated portrait of women trying (maybe failing?) to get along. In the three episodes I’ve seen, Mary Louise is an amateur sleuth, popping up in other storylines via Very Special Guest Star narrative magic. But there’s lingering tension in her ongoing refusal to believe the worst about her dead son — and her corresponding willingness to distrust the women he hurt.