If there was one piece of advice I had going into the 2017 Emmy Awards, it was: don’t bet against Big Little Lies. Over the night of September 17, that little piece of counsel has all but been proven correct, with the star-studded series taking home the Outstanding Limited Series award, as well as limited series honors for Outstanding Lead Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actor, and Outstanding Directing. Basically the Television Academy voters couldn’t stop dropping statues at the feet of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman’s beloved HBO brainchild. While all the awards love is major for Witherspoon, Kidman, and their crew, the success of Big Little Lies might be even better for women everywhere.
Big Little Lies’ win proves stories for women are not only amazing, deep, and memorable — they’re also successful. Networks often enjoy hiding behind the idea male-driven stories simply perform better than ones with women at the forefront. That’s why “men ages 18-34” are often pegged as the most attractive demographic out there. The triumph of Big Little Lies proves that simply isn’t a good way to run your business. By letting women lead television series, networks can hit new ratings highs, and absolutely dominate the award show circuit a pay-for-cable premium network like HBO needs to survive.
It becomes even more clear how important women are for the most successful television projects when you compare Big Little Lies to fellow HBO offering The Wizard Of Lies. The latter premium movie had similar high-wattage stars in Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, but Academy Award-nominee Pfeiffer was forced to take a back seat to TV husband De Niro, who played Ponzi scheme extraordinaire Bernie Madoff. Big Little Lies, on the other hand, was anchored by a quintet of strong, idiosyncratic, and vulnerable women in the form of Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Witherspoon), Celeste Wright (Kidnman), Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), Renata Klein (Laura Dern), and Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz). While Big Little Lies will take home too many awards to carry tonight, prospective Emmys bait Wizard Of Lies will leave Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater without a single statue.
So, as the great Nicole Kidman said while accepting her Outstanding Actress In A Limited Series award, “Bring women to the front of their own stories ... make them the hero of their own stories.” Hopefully Hollywood will listen.
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