HBO's Statement On 'Big Little Lies' & Andrea Arnold's Involvement In Season 2 Insists "Final Product Speaks For Itself"
Season 2 of Big Little Lies had a lot to live up to — after all, the first installment won multiple Emmys and tons of critical acclaim — but it seems as if some behind-the-scenes drama may be casting an even bigger shadow over the new episodes. Shortly after IndieWire published a report that the network had reportedly taken control away from director Andrea Arnold, HBO released a statement about Arnold's Big Little Lies Season 2 contributions that said the director's work "speaks for itself." "There wouldn’t be a Season 2 of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold," the network said in a statement to Bustle on Saturday, July 13.
"We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work. As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself," the statement continued. Bustle also reached out to representatives for Kelley, Arnold, & Vallée, but has not yet received a response.
According to IndieWire's report, HBO reportedly approached the American Honey director to helm the second season of the show, giving her full control over the direction, pre-production and post-production of every episode of Season 2. However, the IndieWire report claims that creator David E. Kelly and the network reportedly handed the reigns over to Jean-Marc Vallée — who directed Season 1 and Sharp Objects — in order to "unify" the two installments of Big Little Lies. Control of post-production was reportedly given over to Vallée, who edited Arnold's episodes to match the tone of Season 1.
While those reports are still unconfirmed — HBO's statement didn't mention what role, if any, Vallée played in the making of Season 2 — it is worth noting that Vallée is credited as an editor in the Season 2 episodes that have aired so far. A Vox article on the Big Little Lies controversy noted that Season 1 of the show credited five editors, while the new episodes list a whopping eleven editors, including Vallée. And looking at the difference between the credits of Season 1, Episode 3 and Season 2, Episode 4 , there are more than twice as many editors credited with working on the latter episode.
In June, Vallée told IndieWire that he advocated for Arnold to take over the reigns on Season 2, once his work on Sharp Objects made it clear that he wouldn't be able to sit in the director's chair once again. "It was a good decision, based on Fish Tank and Red Road, if she was ready to play in the sandbox like I did, to come from the feature film world," Vallée said, referencing two of Arnold's early films. "She was on her own; she didn’t need any advice. ... We have similar ways of shooting, when you look at it. She shot hand-held, available light. She aims for performances, like I do in Season 1. She is who she is, but the spirit of the other is there."
However, the same article noted that Valleé was in the editing room, working on Season 2, with the director explaining to IndieWire, "They needed some help. Since I know the series, these characters, the music and the cutting, I’m here working with the editors checking their stuff."
While the reported conflict between Arnold and HBO may still be mostly rumors, it's clear that Vallée did play a big role in shaping Season 2 of Big Little Lies. Unfortunately, it seems as if the drama behind the scenes might be starting to overshadow the drama on the hit show itself.