Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET on July 22, 2019.
This article contains spoilers through Season 2, Episode 6 of Big Little Lies.
“You are out here surrounded by people who don’t get you. They don’t look like you. I haven’t even seen one other black person since I’ve been out here.”
This statement from the character Elizabeth Howard (Crystal Fox) to her daughter Bonnie Carlson, on Episode 2 of Big Little Lies’ second season, seemed to be the show’s tacit acknowledgment of its glaring, first-season blind spot. The series’ failure to introduce any story lines confronting Bonnie’s experience as a young black woman in a high-strung, predominantly white environment was as pronounced as the show’s commitment to a lush display of California seascapes. Zoë Kravitz, who plays Bonnie, shared her frustration, saying to Rolling Stone, “I tried to get a little more … [race] put into Big Little Lies … but people are scared to go there. If we’re making art and trying to dissect the human condition, let’s really do that.”
Big Little Lies introduces Bonnie as the second wife of Madeline’s (Reese Witherspoon) ex-husband. Bonnie’s youth and contemporary flair are an easy target for Madeline, and though Bonnie is a fellow mother at Otter Bay Elementary School, she is fairly distant from the banalities that consume the parenting community of Monterey. Her appearances during Season 1 mainly come into relevance via her profession as a yoga teacher, which serves to characterize her as a paragon of contemporary progressive ideals. As the Vulture critic Angelica Jade Bastién pointed out: Despite a strong performance from Kravitz, absent any real grounding to her story, Bonnie is relegated to the Carefree Black Girl archetype that merely serves as a foil to the other women.