Who’s the Saddest, Richest, Whitest Lady on Big Little Lies?

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Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture and Photo by HBO

If there’s one lesson you can take away from HBO’s Big Little Lies, it’s that rich, white women have problems, too. Not even their stunning backyard vistas nor their children’s precocious taste in music can mask the well of sadness hidden deep beneath their knitwear. So even as these women seemingly have the picture-perfect life (okay, except for Jane who is the town’s outsider), we learn in soft, oceanic tones that all the money in the world can’t protect you from the crush of patriarchy. So which real housewife of Monterey is the saddest, richest, and whitest of them all? We’ve consulted our Betty Draper calculator and crunched the numbers:

Madeline Martha Mackenzie
Played by:
Reese Witherspoon
Sadness: Part of what makes Reese Witherspoon’s performance so remarkable is the undertow of sadness beneath that stressed out, type-A helicopter mom exterior. Her husband, Adam Scott (who is the lone sad man of the show) hits upon her inner sadness when he notes that she has felt abandoned constantly in her life: by her father, her ex-husband Nathan, and now her eldest daughter. 4/5
Richness: Well, they are rich, but on the scale of 1 percent rich to .01 percent rich, Reese and her family almost seem middle class. So, we have to adjust the scale a tad. 3.5/5
Whiteness: Her name is Madeline Martha Mackenzie. 5/5

Jane Chapman
Played by:
Shailene Woodley
Sadness: Jane is plagued with PTSD after her rape by Ziggy’s father, and it has created a barely suppressed mixture of anxiety, fear, and loneliness that she only seems to let out during intense cardio sessions. While her emotional state is fragile, she’s more powered by rage, fear, and suspicion. 3/5
Richness: Jane is the “poor one” of the group, which is sort of the equivalent of your college roommate who went to Choate saying they were “sooo broke” after partying that weekend. No, she doesn’t have a fancy glass house with a panoramic view of the Pacific on her back patio, but she does have the means to live in the area — at least enough to send her kid to the public school that’s basically a private school — with a job as a part-time bookkeeper. Plus, she’s a single mom. That money has got to come from somewhere! 2/5
Whiteness: Jane “no middle name” Chapman actually thinks that Martha Mackenzie is “nice.” 5/5

Celeste Wright
Played by:
Nicole Kidman
Sadness: Nicole Kidman’s Celeste Wright is the equivalent of crying tears into a bone china teacup and then drinking them. She is devastatingly, almost alluringly sad. She’s so sad that it almost makes sense that her accent is basically a whisper. 5/5
Richness: Celeste dropped $4,095 on a cute new suit for her meeting to help defend Avenue Q. Celeste has mad money. 5/5
Whiteness: Lol. 5/5

Bonnie Carlson
Played by:
Zoë Kravitz
Sadness: You know, Bonnie seems fairly well adjusted considering the fact that the only other person of color in a 50-mile radius is a vaguely annoying Asian-American woman. 0/5
Richness: She has a comfortable living as a fitness instructor. We assume her husband is raking it in though. 3/5
Whiteness: Zoë Kravitz is black, but her character is really into yoga, which is kind of white. 0.5/5

Renata Klein
Played by:
Laura Dern
Sadness: Renata. Has. So. Much. Rage. But it’s clear that underneath that rage is a well of guilt and insecurity about her professional ambitions getting in the way of her parenting abilities. 4/5
Richness: Since the summer, Renata joined yet another board (PayPal). She is loaded enough to offer to buy a group of kids and their parents a weekend trip to Disneyland as a bargaining tactic. This woman is magnificently, stupidly rich. 5/5
Whiteness: The biggest shakeup in Renata’s life recently was office sex. 5/5

Who wins? Celeste Wright, you have barely edged out Renata Klein as the ultimate sad, rich, white lady on Big Little Lies. Congratulations! The Grey Gardens await you.

Who’s the Saddest, Richest, Whitest Lady on Big Little Lies?