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Set in an idyllic seaside California town, the series tells the tale of three mothers of first graders, whose apparently perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. Stress leads to anger and anger turns to danger.
The great thing about Big Little Lies is: The murder is almost beside the point. The vicious battle for power and status waged between the Monterey moms is gripping enough, and serves as a showcase for some fantastic female performances.
The basic structure is compelling enough -- viewers don't even know who the identity of the murder victim is through much of the series, and the layered performances keep us in flux over who we'd like to kill off, and who we wish would do the killing.
The genius of Big Little Lies is that it is not -- primarily, at least -- a satire. Nor is it really a crime thriller. Instead it uses the apparatus of these forms to deliver something far more personal.