I need you all to leave Renata Klein, patron saint of motherhood and self-made energy, alone.
In Season 1 of Big Little Lies, it's obvious that the audience was meant to dislike Renata Klein. She brought the main characters together in mutual distaste by talking incessantly about how great she is in the boardroom and how busy she is with that whole career thing of hers, while also actively bullying a first grader. Why did we hate her though? What crime had she committed? She was a woman who had literally busted her ass to get to this point in her life, a woman who felt like everyone was judging her because she's a mom with a career, and a woman with a 6-year-old daughter, Amabella, who was being violently bullied at school. Respect the way she enunciated "Amabella" (so airy, but so pointed!) in accusing the other moms of not doing enough.
I have felt a level of protectiveness over Renata Klein since the very first episode of the series. Amabella (I cannot not love that she created her own portmanteau of Amelie and Annabel and Isabella — this is a woman who understands a PERSONAL BRAND) points out Ziggy Chapman in a crowded group of students and says he's the one that choked her. She was wrong, we later find out, and terrified to reveal the truth, but what would a mother do in that situation? Exactly what Renata did. You believe your kid, and you fight like hell to make sure she's safe.
But Renata isn't the only fierce mother on the show. Big Little Lies has taken every stereotype of a mother — the one obsessed with her children to the point of driving them away, the one who wants to raise a peaceful and sensitive child despite her own parents' experiences, the one who is fighting her own trauma directly related to her child, the one who stays for her children, and the one with a career — and flips them around. Although the show first presents as a "mommy wars" storyline, we soon see the Monterey Five are much more interesting and more dimensional than that. They cheat on their husbands (Madeline), they ignore warning signs in their kids (Celeste), they isolate their lonely families from the world (Jane). You are able to relate to each one, in full knowledge of their mix of good and bad. So why does everyone yell about Renata being "the worst" and a terrible person?
Season 2 so far has seen Laura Dern's character used for comic relief, her iconic lines instantly becoming memes. "I will not not be rich!" she snarls at her husband Gordon through the phone at the visitation booth of the jail he's being held in, but when you take the actual context of the line — the fact that she's worked her entire life to give Amabella and her family the life she didn't have as a child — it sounds less like a spoiled rich white woman and more like... all of us? Every person I've ever known? Every mom with the most minuscule amount of maternal blood in her body?
She is unapologetic, and the mother we should all inspire to be.
In a study conducted by Zero to Three, researchers found that 90 percent of moms (NINETY PERCENT) feel judged, and 46 percent of moms feel judged "all the time or nearly all the time." And what happens when parents are feeling judged? The website reported that parents often then change their own parenting style to fit what someone has suggested, leading to confused feelings for both their child and themselves. It's a common piece of advice — do what feels best for your child — and it's backed by research. TIME reported that researched published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that when parents adjust their parenting based on their child's needs and temperament, their child becomes well adjusted and are half as likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety as their peers.
But Renata Klein is one of the only moms in Big Little Lies that follows that advice. She parents Amabella how she sees fit, and she's unapologetic about it.
Season 2, Episode 4 shows Renata doing more of her "villainous" work. After their actual bankruptcy hearing, Gordon and Renata go back home to throw the literal party of the year in Monterrey for Amabella's 8th birthday. It's a disco-themed party, full of epic costumes, goody bags, and '70s bands on stage. There are dazzling lights, and frou-frou snacks, and an open bar for the Monterey Five to frequent as they speak in hushed voices about the lie.
It's over-the-top and full of drama and, of course, crazy expensive. It seems so dumb and privileged of Renata to throw this kind of party just moments after a bankruptcy hearing where she had to literally hand over her diamond-encrusted wedding ring, but I can't hate on it. I just can't. Renata's whole life has been perfectly curated to make sure her daughter Amabella is safe and loved. If a disco party that would rival the likes Elton John's infamous Oscar party is how Renata wants to do it, then girl. Go on with your bad self.
If keeping her daughter safe at school means getting in the face of the new teacher? OK! If shouting at the principal after her daughter is literally admitted to the hospital because of a panic attack in her second-grade classroom is what she needs to do, then go for it! Do all of it! Wave your arms and get angry! Make a scene!
She looks like a villain, but Renata Klein is not a bad person. She is unapologetic, and the mother we should all aspire to be. Does she make bad decisions? Sure. Will she probably feel the effects of some of those decisions later this season? Most likely. But she's a human being, and one who doesn't take any sh*t lying down. She reacts how we all want to react, and honestly, it's the mood I want to be in 24/7. Forget Madeline whose ego is going to cost her everything, or Celeste who can't see the forest for the trees, or Bonnie or Jane or anyone else in Monterey at this point.
Renata Klein could easily rule the world — and she does it all with her daughter in mind. That's the big, general energy I want to take into my role as a mother. And I also want that gold disco suit.