Stars, bestselling source material power 'Big Little Lies': How HBO, FX are remaking miniseries

'Big Little Lies,' which is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty and stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, debuts on HBO on Feb. 19.

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO
'Big Little Lies' stars Shailene Woodley (l.) Reese Witherspoon (center), and Nicole Kidman (r.).

A new miniseries from HBO, “Big Little Lies,” debuts on the network as content creators such as HBO and FX have continued to keep miniseries an acclaimed entertainment option. 

HBO’s “Big,” which is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley as three women whose children attend the same school and who become friends. 

Miniseries have been popular for decades, with the 1977 production of “Roots” becoming one of the most popular entertaiment properties of all time. Ensuing decades saw productions including 1985’s “North and South” and the 1989 show “Lonesome Dove” finding their way to TV. 

HBO’s early-2000s productions “Band of Brothers” and “Angels in America” found critical acclaim, with both winning multiple Emmy Awards.

The network has had similar success in the past few years, with the 2014 production “Olive Kitteridge” and the 2016 show “The Night Of" receiving awards season attention. HBO is planning miniseries based on Karen Joy Fowler's novel "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" and the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, among other projects.

FX has also made miniseries part of its bread and butter, showing the ubiquity of the TV format. FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” which aired in 2016, became one of the most acclaimed TV properties to be released that year, dominating that year’s Emmy Awards. 

The success of recent miniseries seemed to come full circle when the History Channel released a well-received remake of “Roots” in 2016. 

“Big” seems poised to be the latest miniseries success for HBO, as it’s based on a bestselling book and features many well-known actors, including not only Ms. Witherspoon, Ms. Kidman, and Ms. Woodley but Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgard, and Laura Dern. 

FX won't be far behind – it will debut “Feud,” which will depict the careers of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and stars Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange, in March.

[Editor's note: The original version of this article misidentified the subjects of the TV series "Feud."

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