Little Fires Everywhere feels like the third season of "Big Little Lies" everyone wants because Reese Witherspoon is literally playing the same character. A juicy adaptation of Celeste Ng's bestselling novel, the Hulu limited series sets up an excellent premise of a mystery against the backdrops of race and class in a small town in the US.
Reese Witherspoon plays Elena Richardson, an upper-middle-class mom living in the 'burbs, one so tightly wound that she and her husband (Joshua Jackson) have a regular sex schedule from which she refuses to deviate while imprinting her hopes and expectations on her four teenage children. She meets Mia Warren (Kerry Washington), the single mother who moves in nearby with her high-achieving daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood). Although Mia begins doing some work for Elena, she maintains her distance, despite a few unguarded moments. Elena wants to raise perfect kids, while Mia is hiding terrible secrets from her past which are the main cause of her PTSD. Set in the late 1990s, the show also offers a knowing glimpse at a time when casual racism and classism were bandied about a bit more overtly, but really rear their ugly heads in moments of tension or crisis. In this case, that involves a third-party dispute over an adopted baby that draws both Elena and Mia into the fray.
"Little Fires Everywhere" is one of those rare multi-generational dramas where the arcs involving the kids are every bit as good as the adults, as the conflicts gradually build. Indeed, while Witherspoon and Washington understandably have some of the showiest moments (both are producers on the project), the series has the feel of a true ensemble piece in all the best ways. The calibre of performers and the strength of the source material makes me optimistic. But in a series about the collision, not getting to see what happens when everything collides makes it hard to feel like you've seen it at all.
Even though Hulu has released just 3 episodes, they are filled with intense moments and set up an excellent premise for a mystery drama. Reese and Kerry, both are phenomenal in the first three episodes and Lexi Underwood is seen in a knockout performance. The coming weeks will reveal more about the lives of Mia and Elene as they navigate through life and do whatever it takes to keep their children away from trouble.
Rating- 4.5/5 Stars