*****SPOILER ALERT***** If the amazing actresses in this tv mini-series don’t grab your attention, the plot will. A story of different motherhoods unfolds in the new Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere. Between Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington’s brilliant acting, you get caught in between the tangled stories that reveal the layers underneath each character's experience as a mother.
It seems as though Witherspoon was meant for roles like this. This show reminds me of Big Little Lies, another hit series that Witherspoon stars in. Similar to Scandal, Kerry’s emotional acting causes the audience to attach to her character and long for more information from her past. Unfortunately, I was not able to read the book by Celeste Ng, which is what the series is based on, but I think an unbiased opinion could do us some good.
You are first introduced to Witherspoon’s character, Elena Richardson, who is a rich, uptight mother with a prestigious journalist career. Through her story, you are introduced to her four kids; Trip, Lexie, Izzy, and Moody. The oldest two, like their mother, live an naive lifestyle oblivious to the world outside of their social circle. The youngest two, Moody and Trip, are more down to earth, experiencing typical teenage problems of love and sexuality.
The family dynamic is interesting, but not as intriguing as their overly exaggerated conversations of Black people and Black history. You see in the first two episodes that the family tries extremely hard to be accepting of African-Americans, minus Moody and Izzy, who seem more grounded about the topic than the rest. I thought that the conversations about Black people were to make Pearl feel more comfortable, but that theory soon changed when we are introduced to Lexie's boyfriend, Brian. When Brian enters the show, the ignorance of the Richardson family really jumps out, especially in Lexie's character.
Lexie seems as though she doesn't see race, but in reality, her ignorance is what is blinding her. Brian and Lexie's situation seems complicated. As the episodes continue, we see that Brian is tired of Lexie's privileged life and wants her to be more understanding of the world around her. Especially since they are an interracial couple. In the third episode, you see Brian become uncomfortable with Lexie's lack of knowledge or care for black people and their daily obstacles. Lexie's behavior isn't surprising because she is learning from the best, her mother. Throughout the first three episodes, Elena talks about helping Mia as if she is one of her many charity projects. A conversation between Elena and Bill show that Elena does have a good heart, but other reasons why Elena involves herself in helping Mia are evident. The toying of racism and discrimination is interesting, and I am not so sure if it is necessary for the plot. Without the overemphasized conversations of black people, the family's ignorance is still pretty prevalent.
But the oblivion doesn't stop there. Surprisingly Kerry Washington character's daughter, Pearl, is blinded by the platter of racism and discrimination that is served to her during dinner at Elena's house. The sly racist remarks from the Richardson family don't seem to phase her, but ironically the same discrimination from the school guidance counselor does. It is less noticeable at first until Brian shows up to dinner one night. He tries to joke with Pearl about the exaggerated performance and black acceptance from the family, to which she seems unaware of.
Pearl's reaction to Brian's joke really isn't surprising. We learn that Pearl has never had a stable childhood, moving from different homes and schools months at a time because of her mother's artistic career. We also see that Mia is very overprotective of Pearl, which can also be the reason why Pearl is unaware of Elena and her family's ignorance.
Mia is an interesting character, and her relationship with Pearl shows there is something from her past that she is trying to protect herself and Pearl from. Whatever is chasing her causes Mia to be cold and on high alert at all times. Most people notice her distant personality, especially Elena's husband, Bill, who gives a warning to Elena after she allows Mia and Pearl to rent her vacant property. You definitely see the trauma that Mia's past has put on her. Almost every time she talks, she is on the break of tears, especially when we see her and Pearl's first fight. She is a multilayered character, and I am excited to see how she develops throughout the series.
I have to say in some parts, Mia is a little cringe-worthy. It's almost like she's trying hard to let everyone know she has a past but won't speak to anyone about it. Not even her daughter. When Pearl and Lexie go shopping for a prom dress, Lexie drills into Pearl's head that she should talk to her mother more about her father. When Pearl returns from the outing, she asks Mia personal questions about her past. Mia reveals that her secret life is nothing to be shared and excuses herself from the room, leaving the audience in limbo about Mia's parents and Pearl's father.
Through recurring flashbacks, we learn that Mia has been a single mom living in her car for a very long time. One flashback showed Mia engaging in car sex before baby Pearl starts crying in the backseat. Pearl hints at Mia's sex life during a conversation with Moody, saying that she sleeps with whoever she wants when she wants. Mia has a lot of layers that are going to be peeled throughout the episodes, one of those layers include helping other mothers. Mia learns that her co-worker, Bebe, unable to give her the proper care, left her daughter, May Ling, at a fire station last year.
Interestingly enough, Mia learns through conversation with Elena that May Ling was adopted by one of Elena's close friends. Elena tells Mia that she is throwing May Ling, a birthday party, to honor her friend, who has been struggling to conceive. After learning this, Mia offers to attend the party as a photographer to see if the baby is, in fact, Bebe's lost daughter.
Although a lot of strange things have happened through the first three episodes, this scene takes the cake. As Mia is attending the baby shower, she is looking for ways to head upstairs to see if it really is May Ling. She is finally able to get upstairs and look at the baby, where she discovers that the baby is Bebe's daughter.
This leads to a world of commotion after Mia leaves the party to find Bebe and tell her that she has found May Ling. In shock, Bebe immediately asks Mia for the car keys and the address, which Mia stupidly gives her, and heads over to the birthday party. Bebe barges in and begins screaming once she gets sight of May Ling. She is then dragged out of the house where the last episode ends.
The next episode comes out on Wednesday, and it looks as though things begin to get heated between Elena and Mia. I am excited to see how each character story unfolds. So far, I would rate this show a 7/10! If you are a Hulu member, you can join in every Wednesday!