Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 3 Amabella Anxiety Attack Climate Change

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Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 3 Amabella Anxiety Attack Climate Change

Amabella is the worst character on Big Little Lies. Amabella is also the best character on Big Little Lies. She is the sheltered daughter of a fancy white lady with far too much money for her own good. She is a second grader with no other claim to fame other than accusing Young Sheldon of choking her. She is the Alpha and the Omega of Otter Bay Elementary School because no one has the power to divide a community like she does. And in the third episode of Season Two of Big Little Lies, Amabella has had a panic attack over the state of climate change. Dammit if it didn’t speak to my soul.

As Big Little Lies attempts to sort out the light complications of telling the truth about murder, there’s been a departure from Season One’s aesthetic. There is too much murder mystery, and not enough upper middle class antics. But ten minutes into Episode Three it happened: the return of Amabella.

The whole scenario starts out pretty innocuous—just one Otter Bay Elementary teacher connecting the story of Charlotte’s Web to global consumption of meat and water use. You know, the liberal agenda. The kids are going around listing off how much water it takes to maintain stock yards and what that equates to in regards to human water use (yes, seriously), but Amabella is nowhere to be found.

Then, like a codependent phoenix rising from the ashes, Amabella is spotted by her teacher (who has already been low key threatened by her mother, Renata). He sees her little metallic boots sticking out of the classroom closet. At some point, Amabella has retreated to the closet mid-climate change discussion and fully passed out. Though it seems a bit unnecessary, an ambulance is called and ships Amabella off to the hospital for observation.

Naturally, I laughed at the concept of this seven-year-old succumbing to the existential dread of our planet’s inevitable demise. But the laughter is partly self-aware because isn’t that what we all want to do? Amabella is a metaphor for living in 2019 because I want to crawl into a closet some days and stick my tiny metallic boots out of the closet in hopes that someone notices.

Since Big Little Lies started, I’ve loathed Amabella, but this episode finally revealed why I harbor hatred for a child. I believe it was Meryl Streep, or some other wise philosopher, who once said, “We hate in others what we hate in ourselves.” Seeing the existential dread in this inconsequential character makes me address my own anxiety. As Renata and her husband rush to Amabella’s side at the hospital, they only exacerbate the issue by literally arguing over her. I noticed Amabella’s eyes, dead from exhaustion, and I was triggered. The internet and the economy and all the dying polar bears are bearing down on our heads every day.

We try to remedy our anxiety in our own ways. For the Klein family, they bring in a therapist who cosplays as Bo Peep and organizes Amabella’s stuffed animals. I typically turn to red wine. But as Bo Peep explains to Renata and Gordon, she’s only able to figure out what’s going on with Amabella, she can’t fix it.

The eventual answer comes as the school’s parents are brought in for an assembly to address the gravity of discussing climate change with children. It’s at that point that Madeline, a one-time Amabella-hater, breaks down in front of the crowd explaining that there’s not a lot of happy endings and we’re not prepared for that. We say, “we’re going to be fine,” and we’re not. At that point, she also goes off on a tangent about “The Rainbow Connection,” but that’s not the point. The point is that Madeline’s tangent about never being ready for life is perhaps the most honest that Big Little Lies has ever been.

Even speaking as someone who’s well past the acceptable age to hide somewhere and panic, I still think Amabella has a point. If you’re able, sometimes it’s fine to just crash a bit, whether you’re in the classroom supply closet or the auditorium stage or the small conference room in the office. Find the place in your world where you can have a nervous breakdown and relish in it.

Everyone’s a little bit broken, and in the course of one episode of Big Little Lies, you might be rooting for Celeste or Madeline or even Mary Louise, but you’re an Amabella. We’re all Amabella. And whether you’re nursing that harsh reality by organizing your stuffed animals or throwing back some wine, just know that you’re not dreading it alone.

Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment.

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