Big Little Lies Is a Runaway Hit, but It’s Definitely For a Mature Audience That May Not Include Your Teen

Big Little Lies is a stunning and intense drama series based on the book of the same name by bestselling author Liane Moriarty, and while it's entertaining and stylistically beautiful, it's a show for a mature audience that may not include your teen. The show's surface themes, like adult friendship and parenting, give way to deeper and darker themes: deceit, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and more.

The show's first season, which aired in 2017 and is still available on HBO, tells the story of five mothers with varying personalities living in affluent Monterey, CA, with their kids, and in four out of five cases, their husbands. We know from the beginning that by the last episode of season one, which centers around an elementary school fundraiser, someone is dead. But that's just a small piece of the dramatic, mysterious, and darkly comedic story, which is now in its second season.

You know your teen and what they can handle best, and if you feel this show could be a good way to discuss heavy but important topics with you child, more power to you. But if you're still not sure, we'd recommend teens are at least 16 or 17 before sitting down to devour Big Little Lies. Whether you've seen the first season and know what to look out for or have yet to dive in, here's what you should consider about the series before allowing your teens to watch.

Warning: spoilers for Big Little Lies ahead.

  • The show prominently features domestic abuse and sexual assault. One of the characters is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband. Several scenes between the pair feature graphic physical abuse and sexual acts, which are not always consensual.
  • A rape is alluded to and discussed. One of the characters experiences frequent flashbacks to being raped, and though the actual act isn't shown on screen, it's impossible not to feel the heavy emotional weight of what the character went through.
  • Graphic sexual acts are shown. Aside from the domestic abuse plot, there are plenty of other instances of characters using sexual language, and there are several acts shown on screen.
  • A murder is committed and the body is shown, though it's fleeting. Before we even know who's been murdered, we know that they got their skull smashed in, among other fatal wounds. Then, once it's revealed which character has died (and we watch exactly how it happens), the camera pans to the body. It's a dark scene (literally and figuratively) lit by blue and red police lights, but it's clear what's being shown.
  • There's plenty of adult language. We don't have to pretend that most teens aren't familiar with swear words, but it's worth noting that since Big Little Lies is an HBO series, none of the curses are bleeped out. And pretty much every character, especially Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) — and once, her 6-year-old daughter (oops!) — let them fly often.