Telling Big Little Lies: Writing the Female Gothic as extended metaphor in Complex Television

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Mcveigh, Margaret
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2020
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Abstract

This article investigates the writing of the Female Gothic as extended metaphor in the Complex TV series Big Little Lies (2017). It builds on my earlier work, ‘Theme and complex narrative structure in HBO’s Big Little Lies 2017’ (2019), wherein I applied Porter et al.’s (2002) structuralist narrative tool, the ‘Scene Function Model’, to investigate the way narrative and theme is progressed in complex interweaving stories via the writing of core or ‘kernel’ narrative scenes. Herein, I further investigate storytelling in series TV by proposing the ‘satellite’ narrative scene as a means by which the screenwriter may conceptualize and deploy metaphor to create viewer engagement. First, I consider David E. Kelley’s series screenplay, Big Little Lies, as a blueprint for HBO’s televised series. Specifically, I apply theories of Complex TV, Gothic Television and Domestic Noir to consider how Kelley deploys the Female Gothic as extended metaphor to inform formal narrative elements including the pre-titles sequences and flashbacks repeated across episodes.

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Journal of Screenwriting
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11
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1
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© 2020 Intellect Ltd. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
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Screen and digital media
Creative and professional writing
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McVeigh, M, Telling Big Little Lies: Writing the Female Gothic as extended metaphor in Complex Television, Journal of Screenwriting, 2020, 11 (1), pp. 63-80
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