While HBO’s star-studded drama, Big Little Lies, is full of cattiness, treachery, and even murder (which I guess we'll see at some point), it also showcases an aspirational friendship in Madeline Mackenzie and Celeste Wright, played respectively by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Theirs is the sort of unconditional adult female friendship the likes of which has been tragically absent from primetime since the network’s other female-led hit, Sex and the City.
Sure, much of the glossy Monterey County lifestyle depicted in the series is pure (and glorious) façade, but Madeline and Celeste’s friendship is deeply real, full of compliments, personal revelations, unmitigated laughter and even occasional gift-bestowing. For these reasons, rumors that the two actresses, longtime friends off the set, are feuding IRL are especially upsetting. According to The Daily Mail, Witherspoon is “furious” with Kidman for failing to throw the weight of her star power behind the show, which Witherspoon executive produces, leading up to its premiere. The tabloid further alleges that Kidman asked that her co-star be kept away from her at the Oscars.
Here’s hoping that this reported conflict is nothing more than false, Monterey-esque gossip. In fact, we’ve compiled all of the times Madeline and Celeste were the pinnacle of #FriendshipGoals. May this mini-retrospective help Witherspoon and Kidman bury the hatchet.
The time Madeline straight-up introduced Celeste as her best friend.
Granted, a label does not a true friendship make. Still, it’s adorable to hear a grown woman call another grown woman her “best friend,” particularly when said women are depicted by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
The time Madeline wore the dress Celeste bought her to the first day of school.
The first time we see these two interact is when they’re dropping their little ones off for their first day at the most ridiculous elementary school on the West Coast. They embrace warmly—Celeste had been off traveling somewhere and forgotten to call Madeline when she got in the night before (of course they are each other's first call soon as they re-enter the well-manicured limits of Monterey). Even more charming is when Celeste notes that her Madeline is wearing the pricey-looking dress she bought her. We like to think it wasn’t to mark an occasion, but rather a spontaneous gift of friendship.
The time Celeste gave Madeline a foot rub.
Well, maybe not exactly a foot rub, but the PDF (public displays of friendship) exhibited between these women is notable. For the entirety of this scene, Madeline has her high-heeled foot in Celeste’s lap as she absentmindedly strokes a bare ankle. And just feel the love in Madeline's gaze. Get yourself a friend that looks at you the way Madeline looks at Celeste.
The time Celeste had Madeline’s back in her feud with Renata.
We’re here to celebrate friendship, not gossip about catfights, so we’ll spare you the details of Madeline’s beef with the neighborhood's career-driven supermom, Renata Klein (Laura Dern). While the women were always frenemies at best, things really come to a head in Episode 2, when they have a public blowout over Renata’s daughter’s upcoming birthday party. The look of amused embarrassment on Celeste's face suggests that she thinks the fight is silly (and that it isn't the first time she’s heard Madeline call someone the c-word in public). Still, she goes along with Madeline’s plot to sabotage the child’s party. What are best friends for?
The many, many times Madeline told Celeste how beautiful she is.
From their first scene together, Madeline is never not finding new ways to tell Celeste how beautiful she is. Our favorite compliment was doled out after Madeline sees Celeste in her lawyer outfit for the very first time. “Are you wearing a cape under there?” she remarks. “Would you stop it?” Celeste giggles. Are these two cute or what? However, it’s this line at the end, laid out with pitch-perfect innuendo, that really takes the chocolate-covered pastry.
The time Celeste came out of retirement to save Madeline’s play.
Celeste proved that she truly is Madeline’s wing-woman when she saved the day… er, play in Episode 4. When Madeline’s production of Avenue Q came under fire for its explicit content, Celeste came out of lawyer retirement to plead Madeline's case in a meeting with the mayor. Naturally, she killed it.
The time they shared deeply personal admissions.
This friendship isn’t all praise and foot rubs. After Celeste proves her prowess as a lawyer, she tearfully admits to Madeline that she isn’t satisfied by motherhood alone. Madeline responds by revealing that a similar dissatisfaction prompted her to take on the play. Then, in what may be the best “Celadeline” moment, they lean on the car horn in catharsis, while screaming, “I want more!”
All of this is to say, we want more heartwarming Madeline and Celeste moments. And we bet if one of these women is the one behind the mysterious murder teased in Episode 1, the other is surely an accomplice. Madeline and Celeste are ride-or-die.
Watch Nicole Kidman's W screen test: