The season 2 finale of HBO’s critically-acclaimed drama, Big Little Lies, drew in record-high viewership for the series with just under 2 million total viewers during its linear broadcast. The initial 1.98 million figure is the highest viewership for the HBO series to date. When HBO’s other platforms (HBO GO and HBO NOW) are taken into account, the season 2 finale of Big Little Lies scored a record of 3.1 million viewers overall.
By comparison, the first season nabbed 1.8 million total viewers in linear viewing and 2.5 million across all platforms. The season 2 finale saw a 19% increase in viewership over the season 1 ender. According to HBO, season 2 was viewed by an average of 12 million viewers per episode, while season 1 was viewed by an average of 8.5 million viewers per episode.
The finale episode aired on July 21 and ended with a courtroom reckoning, as Celeste (Nicole Kidman) cross-examines her mother-in-law Mary-Louise (Meryl Streep) during the custody battle for her sons. While there was drama on-screen, there was also drama behind the scenes this season after an IndieWire article claimed that creative control was pulled away from Andrea Arnold in favor of executive producer and season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallee.
In response to the controversy, HBO said in a statement: “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.”
Despite the controversy, Big Little Lies season 2 pulled in record viewership that could potentially pave the way for a season 3. With no reports of a third season, fans may have to accept season 2 as the last chapter of Big Little Lies. At the season 2 premiere, show creator David E. Kelley said: “Everybody has now lectured me to never say never, so I’m not saying never. But my idea is that this is the end.”
In 2017, Big Little Lies took home eight Emmy awards, scoring the award for best limited series and acting wins for Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Alexander Skarsgård. Big Little Lies season 2 did not receive any Emmy nominations this year.