I have not seen the second season of “Big Little Lies,” but, suffice to say, a lot of people have been turned off by it, noting that it doesn’t remotely come close to the dramatic theatrics of the first season. Meryl Streep was added to the cast for this new round of episodes, she plays, supposedly, a very unlikable character. Jean-Marc Vallee directed the first season and decided to step back and just produce season #2. The excellent Andrea Arnold was hired to direct.
However, an Indiewire piece today by Chris O’Falt (“Big Little Lies’ Season 2 Turmoil: Inside Andrea Arnold’s Loss of Creative Control“) is insinuating that there were a lot of problems brewing between Arnold and Vallee during production of the second season. It all amounted to Vallee and producing partner David E. Kelley literally stepping in for reshoots and sending Arnold home.
O’Falt reports that Arnold was more or less hired because of Vallee’s recommendation. All rumors seem to indicate that HBO execs just weren’t all that familiar with Arnold’s previous movies (Fish Tank, American Honey) which were fiercely independent and risk-taking ventures in storytelling. Suffice to say, these HBO execs were shocked by the season 2 footage they saw in advance.
Now, I kind of want to see this footage, it must, surely, be better than what HBO eventually decided to air.
O’Falt: “The optics were not lost on many associated with Big Little Lies: A show dominated by some of the most powerful actresses in Hollywood hired a fiercely independent woman director…who was now being forced to watch from the director’s chair as scenes were shot in the style of her male predecessor.”
“According to a number of sources close to the production, there was a dramatic shift in late 2018 as the show was yanked away from Arnold, and creative control was handed over to executive producer and Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallee. The goal was to unify the visual style of Season 1 and 2. In other words, after all the episodes had been shot, take Arnold’s work and make it look and feel like the familiar style Vallée brought to the hit first season.”
“It was [just] as Arnold started to assemble scenes that Kelley and HBO started to see there was a problem,” O’Falt continues. “Before Arnold and her London editing team were able to even complete an official cut of an episode, Vallée started to take over. Post-production shifted from London to Vallée’s home city of Montreal, where his own editorial team started cutting what is now airing on HBO. Soon after, 17 days of additional photography were scheduled.”