Update: HBO has responded to confusion after Big Little Lies garnered six Golden Globe nominations as a limited series after it was announced that it would be returning for season 2.
"Big Little Lies was conceived, produced, and aired as a limited series," the network said in a statement according to The Hollywood Reporter. "The implication of impropriety regarding HBO’s awards submission of Big Little Lies in the Limited Series category is irresponsible and uninformed. The idea to continue the story came about only after the show aired. None of the cast or filmmakers had holdover contracts. Each deal had to be renegotiated, which is proof that no ongoing series was contemplated. Additionally, no source material beyond Liane Moriarty’s novel existed. The accusation that HBO was 'gaming the system' is baseless and undeserved."
Original story follows.
Big Little Lies is swimming in Golden Globe nominations, just as we expected. The HBO miniseries received a lot of attention at this year's Emmys — the force of the show is undeniable at this point. It received a total of six nominations at the Golden Globes. However, all nominations fell under the "limited series or TV movie" category, a nebulous space that usually includes TV movies or specials like The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which swept the category last year.
Big Little Lies was a limited series until last week. News broke in early December that it would get a second season, something Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon have been campaigning for since the show finished its run on HBO. Based on a book, Big Little Lies was always supposed to be a single-series show. Like The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, it had a discreet story to tell. After the finale, the director Jean-Marc Vallé told Vulture that there was "no way" there would be a second season.
"No, no, this is the perfect ending. There is no way; there’s no reason to make a season two," Valleé insisted. "That was meant to be a one-time deal, and it’s finishing in a way where it’s for the audience to imagine what can happen. If we do a season two, we’ll break that beautiful thing and spoil it."
Despite this sentiment, Witherspoon and Kidman insisted on another season, as did fans of the show. And then it was manifested! There will be a Big Little Lies season 2, and Andrea Arnold, the director of American Honey, will direct every episode. According to the press release from HBO, the second season will tackle "the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting."
This is good news for fans of the show. But does it mean that Big Little Lies is no longer a limited series? If it gets another season, wouldn't it be a television show? And, in that case, it would need to enter the "Best Television Series, Drama" category, where it would compete against shows like Stranger Things and The Crown.
The category has always been a little amorphous, unfortunately. This year, Fargo, Feud: Bette and Joan, Top of the Lake: China Girl, and The Sinner are also nominated as "limited series." Fargo is in its third season. Top of the Lake: China Girl is technically a second season, and Feud is expected to have another season. The Sinner, like Big Little Lies, is based on a book, so there isn't much room for another season. But Jessica Biel told Variety that it's a distinct possibility that the show will continue.
Most of the shows nominated in the "limited series" category follow an anthology format. Fargo follows different characters with each season, and Feud will take on the rivalry between Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, in its next iteration. Top of the Lake: China Girl followed the same detective (played by Elisabeth Moss) in the second season, but in a different location with a different case.
Big Little Lies season 2, based on the little we know, will follow the same characters we met in the first season. This makes it more of a television show than Fargo or Feud.
Still, the show is unprecedented, both in its depiction of women and the way it has handled the renewal process. Big Little Lies was never supposed to have a second season. When it swept the Emmys, it was still just a limited series. Maybe next year, after we see season 2, it will run as a true television series.
Refinery29 has reached out to the Hollywood Foreign Press for comment.
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