If You Liked Big Little Lies, You’ll Love Big Sky


David E. Kelley’s most recent claim to fame is the HBO award-winning Big Little Lies. With season 3 of that show on indefinite hiatus due to the busy schedules of the all-star cast, this is the perfect time to check out Big Sky, Kelley’s latest crime drama thriller on ABC/Hulu. Based on The Highway book series by C.J. Box, this complicated thriller stars Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury. It’s the perfect storm of compelling characters and gut-wrenching suspense that’s impossible to miss.


While it doesn’t have the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Ally McBeal or even the star-studded appeal of Big Little Lies, the complicated-estranged relationship between Private Investigator Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) and his wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), launches us into a bar brawl with Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury). The crisis in their crumbling personal lives is then quickly set aside as they frantically search for road-tripping teen sisters who’ve disappeared somewhere along the remote Montana highways.  

In a virtual promotional event, Kelley explained, “There’s a lot of dark secrets and ugliness that goes on. So, one moment you’ll be leaning in, the next moment not so much.” It’s true, but the dark secrets and ugliness have taken the series to places that it’s quite possible that even the show’s creators never envisioned. It’s moved beyond the thrill ride, and into the realm of something more twisted

By turns, the series feels like a wanna-be slasher flick, where Danielle Sullivan (Natalie Alyn Lind) and her sister, Grace (Jade Pettyjohn), make all the worst possible choices in the wake of quirky-bizarre sex traffickers/killers. Lind is known for her roles as Dana Caldwell in The Goldbergs and the all-powerful Lauren Strucker in The Gifted. Here, the sisters offer a surprisingly complex performance as they join forces with Jerrie Kennedy (Jesse James Keitel), a transfeminine nonbinary artist and sex worker, in their struggle to survive.

The disturbing ease with which Montana Highway Patrol Officer Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) and his partner, Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty) can kidnap and traffic young women sheds a spotlight on the realities of sex trafficking in America. However, the show’s portrayal of sex trafficking is a source of controversy, as critics claim it’s an example of whitewashing and cultural insensitivity

Despite the controversies and mixed reviews, Big Sky was still ABC’s #1 New Series in the 18-49 demographic. Now, with one more episode left in this first season, Big Sky has already been renewed for season 2, but there will be a few changes. Elwood Reid, who has been Executive Producer for the first season of the show, will take over as showrunner from Kelley for the next season, with Kelley staying on as Executive Producer.  

The latest episodes delving far afield into family secrets, environmental justice, and continued police corruption, but the partnership and friendship between Cassie and Jenny have continued to evolve. I’m curious, still waiting, and hoping that the next few episodes will deliver more answers and perhaps even a cliff-hanger that will carry us all into an even more compelling and twisted season 2. 


Have you been waiting for more TV shows from David E. Kelley? Or perhaps you’ve already been watching the Big Sky series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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