The Atlantic

The Problem With That Big Little Lies Courtroom Scene

The show once known for its subtle depictions of trauma is now taking refuge in melodrama.
Source: Jennifer Clasen / HBO

This article contains spoilers through Season 2, Episode 6 of Big Little Lies.

“The trauma-related experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”

That was Christine Blasey Ford, the research psychologist, testifying to Congress last year about an attack she said she had endured decades before—and offering, in the process, a national lesson on how trauma affects the human brain. Julie K. Brown, the journalist who both broke and sustained reporting about the alleged abuses of Jeffrey Epstein, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with WNYC earlier this year: “Actually,” Brown said of trauma victims, “you should expect that their memories are not going to be consistent.” Barbara Bradley Hagerty echoes the insight this week in The Atlantic. “To police officers who haven’t been trained to spot signs of trauma,” Hagerty writes, explaining why so many sexual assailants have evaded justice, “many rape victims appear to be lying.”

So it was jolting when, in an early scene in, Celeste (Nicole Kidman)—in a flashback to an interview she gave to detectives following the death of her husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgård)—uttered the following, halting line: “I just feel like … I don’t have a proper … memory of everything. So that’s why it’s a little inconsistent.”

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