#ReleaseTheArnoldCut Has Gone Viral. Here’s What That Means For HBO’s Big Little Lies

15 July 2019
HBO, Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley
Image: HBO

One of HBO’s most popular series might well have been enjoying a successful season 2, but has director Andrea Arnold been cut from the edit?

So, you know Big Little Lies, right? It’s the show you probably watch with your wife, occasionally putting up a little faux protest about, but are actually really into.

While the show, starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley, is used to making noise for all the right reasons, the last few days has seen the rise of the hashtag #ReleaseTheArnoldCut and the Internet is not happy.

First appearing over the weekend, the hashtag has been used to highlight another potential gender inequality issue in Hollywood that has seen season 2 director, Andrea Arnold, have her work re-edited and cut differently. News that comes in stark contrast to the idea that Arnold was to be given free reign over season 2.

Sources state that the award-winning show’s creator David Kelley and Jean-Marc Vallée, executive producer and director of the first season, failed to communicate the exact requirements for the shooting style and seized creative control from Arnold during the post-production process – as well as ordering additional shooting to supposedly retain uniformity in the feel of the show. The editing was done in the absence of Arnold.

While the show has remained wildly popular – ratings have actually enjoyed a slight bump – viewers had been quick to notice changes with regards episode length. Turns out this was because of heavy cuts and changes made in post-production.

The show, which has become associated with female empowerment in mainstream television both in front of the camera and behind it, is now at a crossroads, with some people calling out executive producers Kidman and Witherspoon for allowing this to happen on their watch.

Despite the social media frenzy, HBO still released the penultimate episode of the season yesterday. Interestingly enough, the episode was the standard 55 minutes as opposed to the other, shorter, season 2 cuts. There’s no comment on whether this released version is heavily edited or not.

Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. For most part, the furore has been met with silence. No comments from executive producers Witherspoon and Kidman – who previously said that they loved working with Arnold – and HBO’s only response has been a statement that reads: “There wouldn’t be a Season 2 of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold. 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.” Arnold, meanwhile, has remained silent.

So, while we might well be waiting on the final episode of season 2, there’s a chance that more intrigue can be found on the cutting room floor this year than in Monterey, California.

Big Little Lies indeed.