Reese Witherspoon, star and exec producer of HBO’s Big Little Lies, told a TCA audience today that she’s sick of seeing “women with talent playing wives and girlfriends.” Little wonder, then, that the darkly comic novel written Liane Moriarty had such appeal: The book’s women certainly star in their own lives, even when things go very, very bad.

Said costar and fellow EP Nicole Kidman, “This piece for me was the story of women that I know, and it was a way which we could go to other women with five great roles that were complicated and deserve to be told. It’s very rare to find five roles in one piece that we’d all jump at a chance to play.”

The darkly comic drama Big Little Lives follows a group of California women – mothers of first-graders at the same school – who become linked to a murder.

Said Witherspoon, “It’s a unique privilege to be able to come to other women with a piece of material that I feel deeply proud of and excited for. These are the kinds of things that shift consciousness.”

David E. Kelley, who adapted the book for TV, called the process “both easy and challenging.”

“The easy part was that I could stay faithful to the story,” Kelley said. “I loved the book and the characters. The architecture was there and the character development was there, the world was there. What was challenging was living up to the book and the complications of some of those characters.”

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, Big Little Lies also stars Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz, James Tupper and Kathryn Newton.

The seven-episode drama debuts February 19 on HBO.