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Reese Witherspoon Breaks Down Smurfette Syndrome (Only Woman on Set) While Discussing HBO’s Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies tells the story of three different women with children in kindergarten whose seemingly perfect lives start to unravel when someone is murdered. The HBO mini series is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty and features a lineup of well-known actors including Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz and Adam Scott. Even without seeing the first episode, it’s obvious that the project will attempt to present the complex female characters we have long been demanding from Hollywood. It’s why Witherspoon, who also acts as an executive producer, added her name to it.

“For 25 years, I’ve been the only woman on set,” she said. “They call it Smurfette Syndrome, [as in] she’s the only woman around—who gave birth to all those Smurfs anyway?—so I had no one to talk to… We have to start seeing women how they actually are on film—we need to see real women’s experience—whether that involves domestic violence, sexual assault, romance, infidelity or divorce. We as human beings learn from art.”

Per The Hollywood Reporter, she went on to say that she has “had enough” of seeing talented women “playing wives and girlfriends in thankless roles,” also noting that she is now at a place in her career where she has the “unique privilege” to work with other women on projects like Big Little Lies. I’m glad that she’s putting her privilege to good use by amplifying women’s voices. I just hope she extends that to more marginalized people, specifically Asian women, who remain one of the least represented demographics in Hollywood, in the future.

Big Little Lies premieres on February 19. Will you watch?

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image via screencap)

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