What You Need To Remember About Madeline's Affair From Big Little Lies Season 1

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Even perfect people make mistakes — like Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) on Big Little Lies. She has a perfect little Monterey County life, with perfect kids and a perfect house and a seemingly perfect husband (this is all from the outside looking in, of course), and yet, somehow, Madeline seemed to make a big mess of things because Madeline had an affair on Big Little Lies season 1.
The co-adulterer was Joseph (Santiago Cabrera), her married collaborator and the director in the local theater production of Avenue Q. And as we've seen from the first episode of season 2 of Big Little Lies, this is one little subplot that's going to have some serious consequences throughout these next few episodes. Here's the 411 about who Madeline cheated with and a few other bits you should probably pop back into your mind grapes.
The Production Of Avenue Q
It's is a raunchy play about puppets and people living in New York City — it has songs like “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)” — so needless to say, the NIMBYs of Monterrey were absolutely incensed that an “adult” musical would be the choice for the local production. Flash forward to a fight with the city and the mayor, with Madeline and Joseph at the forefront, and then flash back to a year prior, when Madeline and Joseph were involved in an affair. It ended quickly after it began, but it all it took is one kiss in the present day of season 1 to reignite that flame.
Joseph Was Playing For Keeps
Turns out that Joseph was in love with Madeline and he wanted to be with her for real. Madeline was already over this because she actually loves her husband Ed (Adam Scott), or at least her cozy life. For her, the affair was nothing but a release because her life was spinning out of control and she needed to control something, anything, to make herself feel better.
But Then Joseph & Madeline Crashed That Car
Cut to: Joseph and Madeline arguing and driving and Joseph crashing the car. Madeline is OK, but Joseph needs to go to the hospital, and it’s there that Joseph’s wife, Tori (Tori Boob Job in season 2), is skeptical about Madeline and Joseph’s need to be in a car together late at night (she's wise, that one). Ed, Madeline’s husband, is none the wiser — at the time.
But! Madeline Tells Someone About The Affair
At the end of the season, Joseph threatened to air out all their dirty laundry and as a result, Madeline confessed her folly to Jane (Shailene Woodley) and her daughter, Abigail (Kathryn Newton). One person who doesn't know, as of season 2, episode 1, is Ed.
And because we've been asked to remember the affair in episode 1, and we've got a whole second season ahead of us, it's only a matter of time before Ed is no longer in the dark. There's the wild card of Abigail knowing that her mother is a cheater — she is a sullen teenager who could absolutely tell Ed out of spite, or pure flippancy. Controlling the narrative is something Madeline is great at, but in this case, it’s hard to say which way it will go once the information is out.

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