Little Fires Everywhere, a Hulu Original, released episodes 1-3 this week. The remaining 5 episodes of the mini-series will become available on 5 coming Wednesdays.
Little Fires Everywhere is material women picked and produced for themselves. This means the story is layered and complex and the women are deep and fascinating.
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington lead the cast as two mothers who become entangled in a story about mothering, class, race, sexuality, secrets, and lies.
Witherspoon is Elena, a wealthy wife with four children. Her husband Bill (Joshua Jackson) gets sex only when it’s scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Her four children are Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn), Trip (Jordan Elsass), Moody (Gavin Lewis), and Izzy (Megan Stott).
Washington is Mia, a vagabond artist with no money. Pearl (Lexi Underwood) is her daughter.
Mia rents an apartment from Elena. Moody and Pearl become friends. Pearl is fascinated by the rich people in Moody’s family. Mia starts working part time for them. Mia understands the problematic Izzy better than her mother does. Elena understands the aspirational Pearl better than her mother does.
Soon we realize there are secrets and character backgrounds we want to unpack. The acting by Witherspoon and Washington is SO GOOD. They are both outstanding. The open, unguarded conversation they have late at night over glasses of wine in episode 2 is Emmy worthy from both of them.
In episode 3 there’s a story turn that will affect the remainder of the season. Elena’s good friend Linda (Rosemarie DeWitt) is adopting a Chinese baby left at a fire station. Mia realizes she knows the grieving mother, Bebe (Lu Huang).
Episode 3, called “Seventy Cents” illustrates but one aspect of the racism that threads through this American story. Bebe’s infant wouldn’t nurse. She was starving. Bebe went to the store but was 70 cents short of the price of a container of formula. The store owner chased the desperate mother away. Rather than let the baby starve, Bebe left her at a fire station.
Izzy went to Homecoming with a boy, but was heading home alone on the bus. She was 70 cents short of proper bus fare. The driver told the well-dressed white girl not to worry and to sit down.
I could give you 10 other powerful examples of the same kind of inequality from the first 3 episodes of Little Fires Everywhere.
The series was created by Liz Tigelaar based on a novel by Celeste Ng, who also wrote for the TV series. The first episodes were directed by Lynn Shelton and Michael Weaver.
If you have Hulu, I strongly recommend you give this series a look. I’m extra eager to see the next episodes. I suspect this will be one of the best series of the year.