I cannot make any other posts before I make this very important post. There has been a recent work of art sweeping across the nation like wildfire, sparking up conversation and gathering praise. First a book and now a Hulu original short series, this story is absolutely incredible, and brings to light many taboo topics such as gentrification, racism, familial rights, and so much more. As you may have already guessed, this work of art is Little Fires Everywhere.
WARNING: spoilers ahead.
Author Celeste Ng boldly exposes toxic socioeconomic and racial dynamics created by orientalism, westernization, and nativism in the United States. The story, as you may know, focuses on three main groups of people: Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl Warren, the Richardsons, and the McCulloughs in antagonizing competition with Bebe Chow for custody of Bebe’s biological daughter.
Alright folks, let’s talk tea. So my initial reaction to the book was love love love. Extremely well written, captivating, and exposing. In regards to the show, I felt the same way. Reese Witherspoon killed it, and I really enjoyed Lexi Underwood’s portrayal of Pearl. My biggest complaint is in the show, Elena was portrayed as a little too nice and likeable, mainly due to the fact that Reese Witherspoon played her. Reese Witherspoon is one of my all time favorite actresses, and I absolutely stan. In the book, I seriously wanted to punch Elena Richardson in the face. In the show, Reese made her a bit too likeable in my own personal, unprofessional opinion. But, at the same time, it was so iconic that they cast Reese as Elena and I couldn’t see anyone else playing the role with such passion and pizzazz, so I am caught between a rock and a hard place here. Near the very end of the show, Reese did kick it into high gear and slay the archetype of b*tchy, rich, angry, vindictive, white mom, so it was in fact incredible to see her develop the character over the series.
Things I did not like about the show: The show took many creative freedoms, some that paid off and some that threw me for a loop. To be completely and utterly transparent, I was not that enthralled with Kerry Washington’s portrayal of Mia Warren. I felt as though she played the character in too much of an unlikeable way, which was not a great reflection of who Mia was in the book. I felt as though Mia was portrayed as colder than she was supposed to be, especially in the abortion situation with Lexie. For me personally, Mia in the show was an extremely hard to like character, which was not exactly how it was in the book at all. In the book, I thought Mia was the perfect mix of standoffish but strong, firm but loving, and independent but invested. In the show, Mia was a little too disdainful which made her into more of a villain than she should have been. Also the first time Pearl and Trip hooked up??? What was that??? I did not like that scene and it put a weird twist on their relationship that was not there in the book.
Things I did not like about the book: The book in the beginning was a bit slow. Once I reached around the halfway point I couldn’t put it down, but up until then I spent segments of time reading it. That is really my only complaint, so other than that I really enjoyed reading this.
Things I did like about the show: Two words: Luke Bracey. Baby, oh baby! Luke Bracey is a gift from above. Not only do I love the addition of Luke Bracey, but everything his character brought to the show was absolutely fantastic. Almost the entire situation between his character, Jamie Caplan, and Elena Richardson was not in the book. But let me tell you, that addition added value folks. The scandal between the two was not only riveting, but added another dimension to the tension between Elena and Bill, as well as the complexity of Elena’s relationship with Izzy. The most important thing to note here is the ending to the show. The show took a turn and tweaked the ending a little and it sure did pay off. In the book, Izzy is the only one that single handedly burns down the house and turns against everyone. In the show, all the siblings band together to demonstrate to their mother the consequences of her actions and use physical reactions to make a statement. When Elena Richardson tells the fire chief that she is the one who set the fires in the end, it shows how she finally starts to understand the pain and torment she caused her family due to her envious actions and malicious pursuits. This is the final character development that the book was missing for Elena Richardson.
Things I did like about the book: Everything? No, I am just playing, but I actually really did love everything about this book. The relationship between Trip and Pearl really took me by surprise, but I loved it. Pearl pursued Trip, so shout out to all the powerful women in the crowd, thank you for being you, bold queens. I also loved the intertwining connections of motherhood and the unconventional examples of motherhood. Mia became almost like a mother to Bebe Chow, when Bebe was alone and had no one to lean on. Elena became like a mother to Pearl when Pearl wanted to escape the oppression she thought her mother was projecting on her. Mia became like a mother to Lexie when she had her abortion. All these moments where motherhood took center stage revealed to the audience that to mother, you don’t have to be the same race and you don’t have to be in the same family. Sometimes being a mother means showing kindness and supporting someone else when they need it the most. This book highlighted the complexity and ambiguity of motherhood, while still stressing the importance of it and the significance of the absence of it.
Alright, this was a really long post so I will cut it off here, even though I could probably write half a book about this. I truly did love both the book and the TV series so I am going to have to give them a tie (I know, lame). These thoughts and reactions simply scraped the surface of my opinions and hot takes from the series and the book, but I hope you enjoyed it!
If you haven’t read the book or seen the series…..go. Do it. Right now.