The first reviews are in for Big Little Lies' second season — and critics say it's a winner.
The show, which was initially meant to conclude with its award-winning first season in 2017, returns next Monday on SoHo and Neon for a seven-episode sequel.
Critics were sent the first three episodes to review — and they're praising the show's "even richer" performances, particularly with the addition of Hollywood legend Meryl Streep.
Vulture's Jen Chaney says Big Little Lies 2 is "worth the wait".
"BLL season two offers tons of surface pleasures: more beautiful houses with ocean-front views; gorgeously dreamy cinematography," she says.
"Season two ... also tackles fundamental questions about honesty, grief, marriage and how to raise children who are aware of the wider world without being crippled by anxiety because of that awareness."
Vanity Fair's Sonia Soraiya predicts Meryl Streep's performance as Mary Louise Wright - the mother of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), who died at the end of season one - "is going to win her an Emmy".
"She's mesmerising as the grieving Mary Louise ... Watching Streep go toe-to-toe with Witherspoon — who, with catty, self-deluded Maddie, is doing some of her career-best work — is Olympic-level barb-trading, the most satisfying meanness in the show," she says.
NPR's John Powers says the sequel is "worth seeing for its ensemble of leading ladies — maybe the greatest in TV history — who bring invention and life to every scene".
He particularly praised Witherspoon's performance: "[She] never got as much praise as she deserved for her smart, funny performance as Madeline, a woman with so many bees in her bonnet she might as well wear a hive."
The AV Club's Danette Chavez praised the performances across the board. "Kidman remains a gorgeous font of sadness and anger as Celeste, while Witherspoon's whirling dervish of a character continues to confront (or soothe) everyone that comes into her path."
IndieWire's Ben Travers called season two "very different and very good".
"Arnold's intimate direction, Kelley's efficient scripts, and the personal investment the audience has already made with these characters prove instrumental to building a compelling human drama."
Big Little Lies 2 premieres Monday on SoHo and Neon.