Oscar winner Meryl Streep is either the best or the worst thing that happened to Big Little Lies for Season 2. Her character, Mary Louise, is named for the person who is playing her but that seems to be about all that Streep has in common with the hideous woman who appears every week on the HBO show.
From the first episode on, Streep has shattered the nerves of nearly everyone who has been in contact with her on the hit television program. Not long after spending time with Mary Louise following the death of her son, she makes noise in a way never before heard on the small screen.
While talking about her darling boy, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), Mary Louise sits at the dinner table with his wife, Celeste (Nicole Kidman), and her twin grandsons. She brings up how she is feeling about losing her child, and then admits she just wants to scream. But this horrid woman does not just talk about screaming, she actually does scream.
What comes out of her mouth is nothing less than terrifying, sowing the seeds of her new character who goes on to share her spite during all Monterey encounters. The essence of this seminal scene is captured by Vulture.
“[The scream] quickly descends into the filthy depths of hell, climbing back up again to form a sort of combo-pack scream, both tinny and sepulchral at the same time. Briefly, the scream takes shape, forming words — ‘Oh, oh, oh’ — before Meryl begins ramming her fist, hard, against her own chest. By the end… she’s wrenching with sobs — and then suddenly, she’s laughing. ‘What, my grief is too loud for you?’ she giggles at Celeste.”
Actually, Mary Louise doesn’t even need to open her mouth to make viewers realize she is up to no good. Definitely not your typical little old lady, this character’s sickening being is perceived just by looking at her. Armed with balky false teeth, she constantly wears a scowl while peering through the person in front of her by way of thick, wire-rim glasses.
Besides that, Perry’s mother’s matronly hairstyle leaves much to be desired, described by the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Datebook to perfection.
“Mary Louise’s formidable, gray curled-under bob is in complete opposition to Celeste’s outwardly flipped ends. It isn’t so much a hairdo as a helmet for Mary Louise’s upcoming battle(s) against Celeste.”
This bit about her looks only begins to describe Meryl Streep’s latest character who, if nothing else, is memorable. Actually, she’s memorable beyond belief. Yet, the storied actress captures complete attention while also giving everyone around her the creeps.
She does this by speaking her mind in response to what someone has said and by speaking her mind when nobody cares to hear from her.
And boy does she have a mind of her own. Mary Louise is always in command of her nasty comebacks and back-handed compliments, like when she is on the receiving end of a very hard whack across the face from her long-suffering daughter-in-law.
“What should we call that, foreplay?” Meryl’s character says with a straight face, referring to the dynamics Celeste suffered during her marriage to her son.
Celeste is apparently the person Mary Louise likes to torture the most. Not long after arriving in town to allegedly help return things to normal, she tells Nicole Kidman’s grieving character, “I do look at you as an enigma. That’s how Perry first described you to me. Did you know that?”
Apparently, that takedown was rhetorical as are a lot of questions she asks. With regard to the death of her son, she addresses Celeste’s friend Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), saying, “I want to know what happened that night. I’m very tempted to ask you, but I doubt I would get the truth. Would I?”
For the real truth, watch Meryl Streep play poisonous Big Little Lie‘s Mary Louise on Sundays on HBO.