I was first attracted to Hulu's newest miniseries "Little Fires Everywhere" after reading the 2017 novel in which the show is based on. Admittedly, I picked up the book because I found the cover aesthetically pleasing (so much for judging a book by its cover, right?), but that ultimately led me to a wild journey through the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights.
"Little Fires Everywhere" takes place in this cookie-cutter suburb sometime in the mid-90s, which reminds me of, for those of you in Chicago, like Naperville or Barrington: perfectly-trimmed lawns, winding roads lined with huge homes and--as this show amplifies--a racially homogenous population. In front of this backdrop we meet Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon), a mother of four who cultivates an extremely rocky and at times problematic relationship with her apartment's new tenant, starving artist and nomad Mia Warren (Kerry Washington).
Elena and Mia's lives become increasingly enmeshed, both because Elena becomes progressively invasive by digging into Mia's past life and because their children to a point trade mothers. Mia's daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood) tries to fit in with Elena's children Moody (Gavin Lewis), Trip (Jordan Elsass) and Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn), while Elena's rebellious daughter Izzy (Megan Stott) sees an artistic inspiration in Mia.
From the very beginning, "Little Fires Everywhere" breaks the illusion of white suburbia with its colorful storylines and themes that dominate each episode's airtime. Whether it be Elena, a white woman, hiring Mia, a black woman, to be her housekeeper while she's at work, or Mia helping her co-worker at a Chinese restaurant regain custody of her daughter that she abandoned, Celeste Ng's novel and series directly shatter notions of the white savior complex and the illusion of a "post-racial" society.
But with this show comes its flaws. While "Little Fires Everywhere" accomplishes this task of unpacking these racial disparities, it falls behind on delivering these messages in a timely manner. The constant cuts between each subplot leave out precious time for audiences to stay in the loop, which while I understand is to build suspense, there were times where I felt it the speed of a scene could've been faster.
"Little Fires Everywhere" is a definite recommendation on my part for its thematic elements of race, its remarkable cast and ability to not butcher a book that is just as good as itself. It's definitely one to watch while you're in quarantine, and maybe one that you can put on your list for remote watch-partying.
New episodes of "Little Fires Everywhere" premiere Wednesdays on Hulu.