Little Fires Everywhere Series Premiere Review: Hulu's Hot New Show is Worth the Watch

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What do you get when you mix bold storytelling, uncomfortable truths, and vital life lessons with equal parts Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon? Magic. Pure magic.

Little Fires Everywhere, an original Hulu series based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Celeste Ng, explores the complex relationship between mothers and daughters through a series of unforeseen events.

The show's liberal use of flashbacks as puzzle pieces adds to the overall sense of mystery and allure. 

Isabelle Stare Down - Little Fires Everywhere

The natural chemistry between the cast members in the show was apparent off the bat, though, the show's fresh, young, up-and-coming talent made the biggest waves.

Pearl (played by Lexi Underwood) and Isabelle (played by Megan Stott) made excellent first impressions with powerful, emotionally charged and memorable scenes. 

Elena: She’s very attractive. African American
Isabelle: What does that matter?

Little Firest Everywhere takes place in the affluent town of Shaker in the late 1990s.

As a 90's baby, I appreciated the not-so-subtle references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Real World, and Slimfast, and the inclusion of one of my favorite characters from Dason's Creek -- Pacey (played by Joshua Jackson)!

Little Fires Ng

On Little Fires Everywhere Season 1 Episode 1, the show makes it apparent that it will highlight issues of race and class.

Although the show took place more than two decades ago, the social commentary the show provides is both timely and necessary, 

Reese Witherspoon's high safety character on the show is a hybrid of the journalist she plays on YouTube Tv's Little Fires Everywhere and the overly involved socialite mother she plays on HBO's Big Little Lies.

Do you even care about what I want? Because most moms do. They actually put their kids first. That’s what Mrs. Richardson does. She puts all of her kids first.


There were moments when I forgot what show I was watching altogether. Although the roles blur together, Witherspoon's performance as Elena was nonetheless convincing.

Kerry Washington's role as Mia was also uniquely fitting. 

Elena and Mia Together - Little Fires Everywhere

There were several times when Wahsington's facial expressions delivered all of the emotion in a particular scene (like when Mia discovered the background check ordered by Elena on Little Fires Everywhere Season 1 Episode 2).

Elena has all the characteristics of a white savior who does lots of right things for wrong, prideful reasons.

From the very beginning, she treats Mia like her inferior and uses her seemingly good deeds to mask her pride and prejudices.

At times, the uncomfortable tension between Elena and Mia was almost unbearable. I closed my eyes in embarrassment when Elena asked Mia to be her housekeeper not long after meeting her.

The thing about portraits - you need to show people how they want to be seen. I prefer to show people as they really are.


Moody and Pearl go for a Walk - Little Fires Everywhere

Watching Pearl's face as her black mother cooked dinner for the very white Richardson family also triggered a host of uncomfortable feelings.

On the one hand, it was empowering to watch a black woman humble her self to provide for her child by any means necessary. 

On the other hand, the shame that Pearl likely felt in that moment was a heavy emotion to carry. 

Growing up as a poor black girl at a predominately white private elementary school, I know first hand what it feels like to be in situations where you're made to feel inferior to your white counterparts. 

Elena and Mia long - Little Fires Everywhere

The writers also did a great job highlighting the high-tension relationship that often exists between police officers and black people in America.

Mia's reaction to the neighborhood watch officers who caught Pearl and Moody trespassing was far more intense than Elena's lackadaisical response.

Although Elena and Mia are different from one another in many different ways, they're more alike than they care to admit.

Reese Witherspoon on LFE - Little Fires Everywhere

Both women are passionate and fiercely determined to defend what they believe at all costs.

Both women are also often blinded by their selfish desires, and keep painful secrets in fear of hurting people they care about.

A mother is a mother and you will always be hers.


I was particularly fascinated by the reoccurring theme that mothers own their daughters juxtaposed against the idea presented at the Vagina Monologues book club meeting that women are their own people.

The ideological inconsistency made the female characters feel refreshingly human.

So many of our beliefs and values get challenged in the face of difficult circumstances. 

Isabelle Painting Long - Little Fires Everywhere

In addtion to exposing the fears associated with motherhood, Little Fires Everythwere exposed the fear and axniety many priveleged youth face over getting into college.

Lexie's stolen Yale application essay addressed the often neglected issue of white entitlement as it relates to cultural appropriation and drew attention to the controversial affirmative action debate. 

How can we see ourselves when we’re afraid to look at who we really are?


While I commend the writers for attempting to make a case for affirmative action, they failed to address the underlying reason for affirmative action -- to ensure that universities are made up of people from diverse backgrounds.

Affirmative action is not just for black people. Although white women actually benefit the most from affirmatie action, they are some of its feircest opponents.

Lexie is Not Having It - Little Fires Everywhere

By the end of Little Fires Everywhere Season 1 Episode 3, it became evident that the plot is gearing up to shift from the woes of every-day motherhood to a battle over who should be considered baby Mei Ling's true mother.

Although Bebe is Mei Ling's birth mother, Linda has raised Mei Ling for the majority of her life.

Both women will likely make excellent mothers, but only one will win custody of the baby.

Overall, the story arc of the show is easy to follow despite the multitude of side stories and backstories.

Random Thoughts: Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon look like they haven't aged at all over the last decade. Also, Lexi Underwood has an uncanny resemblance to Amandla Stenberg. 

As with every review I want to hear from you!

Who is your favorite chracter?

Do you think baby Mei Ling will end up with Linda or Bebe?

If you haven't yet caught up, you can watch Little Fires Everywhere online.

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Kiara Imani is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Little Fires Everywhere Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Elena: She’s very attractive. African American
Isabelle: What does that matter?

Elena: It’s not Wednesday or Saturday.
Bill: You know we are allowed to have sex on other days
Elena: But it’s so much more fun when you plan it.