Why Amabella Lied About Her Bully In Big Little Lies (& Who It Really Was)

Content Warning: This article contains descriptions of domestic abuse.

Years after its first season premiered, a lingering question on Big Little Lies is why Amabella (Ivy George) lies about Ziggy (Iain Armitage) bullying her. Set within an affluent California community, the show teases a murder mystery in its opening moments, suggesting this world is not as perfect as it seems on the surface. However, most of the drama in Big Little Lies season 1 comes from Amabella’s storyline, as it’s revealed she’s being harmed by someone, and she accuses one of her classmates. Along with creating tension within the community, the truth behind Amabella’s bully on Big Little Lies links to one of the show’s darker storylines.

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While there were plenty more questions to be answered by the end of Big Little Lies season 2, the first season storyline with Amabella was both relatable and disturbing for featuring such a young child. Amabella is shown to be a quiet and sensitive girl, looked over by her protective mother, Renata (Laura Dern). Like most of the families in this community, Amabella comes from wealth and privilege yet is clearly affected when she begins being bullied at school. Her young age mixed with the fear and anxiety of the situation, as well as the aggressive way Renata responds, makes it understandable when Amabella lies about her bully.

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Amabella Falsely Blames Ziggy To Avoid A Dark Truth

Ziggy sitting in the backseat of a car in Big Little Lies

The drama begins quickly in Big Little Lies season 1 when the kids are getting picked up from school and Renata notices injuries on her daughter, Amabella. In a questionable moment, the girl’s teacher encourages Amabella to point out which of her fellow students is responsible. Pressured at the moment, Amabella points to Ziggy, the new kid in school. Young Sheldon actor Iain Armitage does a great job of selling Ziggy’s insistence that he’s innocent, making it plausible that Amabella has falsely blamed Ziggy to hide the true identity of her bully.

When it is later revealed that Ziggy is innocent, it becomes clear that Amabella lied simply to escape the moment she was in. Choosing the new kid in school seems like the easiest way to pass the blame and hide the truth she is afraid to share. It also speaks to another theme in the show as Ziggy and his mother Jane are far less wealthy than other families in their new community. Like fellow HBO series Succession, Big Little Lies explores how affluent people can be detached from regular people, which makes it easier for Renata and others to see Ziggy as the culprit.

While the storyline largely focuses on the adult’s reaction to the situation, including the mistakes and assumptions they make, the children at the center of it have their own complexities. Amabella might falsely accuse Ziggy as her bully but the show wisely avoids showing her at any fault. Ziggy even admits he and Amabelle are friendly following the accusation. However, the reason behind why she lied adds to the disturbing nature of the storyline as she was threatened to keep silent. Even at a young and innocent age, Amabella clearly understands to threat and chooses to name Ziggy perhaps knowing that he is a kind friend who would retaliate in the way she fears.

Max Wright Was Amabella’s Bully

The Wright twins stare at their mother on Big Little Lies

After admitting he has known the truth all along, Ziggy tells his mother that Max Wright (Nicholas Crovetti) has been the one hurting Amabella. Despite being blamed, Ziggy kept the secret as a promise to Amabella who was afraid of what Max would do to her if she said anything. Unfortunately, the reason behind Max’s bullying is even more heartbreaking as it is something he has learned from his own home life. Hearing the domestic abuse his own mother Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is subjected to from his violent father, Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), Max develops a warped take on that type of violence and mimics his father in becoming Amabella’s bully.

The revelation that Max learned this behavior by watching how his farther abused his mother adds another disturbing element. It also further explains why Amabella lied about who was hurting her. Celeste and Perry had a seemingly perfect marriage on the outside with the abuse being hidden from the world. It is likely that Perry made such threats to Celeste about keeping the truth hidden and that Max mimicked those threats against Amabella as well.

Season 3 of Big Little Lies may never happen, but storylines like this prove why the show’s first season was such a smash hit with fans and critics. Amabella’s bully, the accusation of Ziggy, and the ties to Celeste’s abuse connected in a brilliant way to highlight the themes of the show and set the stage for the climactic murder in the final episode of season 1. The fact that there are still questions as to why Amabella lied about her bully also shows how Big Little Lies remains with people after so many years.

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