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Strings catch flame in Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

| Thursday, March 26, 2020

Cristina Interiano | The Observer

Liz Tigelaar’s television adaptation of Celeste Ng’s book “Little Fires Everywhere” really runs the gambit of hard-hitting topics. It’s easy to see why sparks light all these flammable areas in this story, which plays out very well on the screen on Hulu.

The book caught fire through Reese Witherspoon’s book club and Hello Sunshine, and through the collaboration of Ng, Tigelaar and Witherspoon, it has ignited into a roaring blaze with the release of the first three — and now four — episodes.

One of the five shamrocks that I’m giving the show goes fully to its intro. Random objects are shown in rapid succession catching on fire. As the episodes build on one another, viewers come to recognize that these objects symbolize plot points in the story. The song ratchets up in tempo as the intro plays out, and the shrill violin notes that crescendo against the background of a burning violin really solidify the suspense of the show. Slow piano notes echo the theme song throughout transitions in each episode.

The second shamrock goes to the cast. Witherspoon does a great job, although I feel like her character is almost exactly the same as the role of Madeline Martha McKenzie who she plays in “Big Little Lies.” Kerry Washington is the stronger half of the volatile relationship between Elena Richardson, helicopter housewife (Witherspoon), and Mia Warren, angry artist (Washington), that builds the backbone of the story.

The four Richardson children are cast very well, too. Jade Pettyjohn plays the perfect mini-version of Witherspoon. At first glance, I thought that she was Witherspoon’s daughter in real life. Lexie Richardson is just as annoyingly perfect as her mother until she goes too far in exchange for her dream college. Jordan Elsass pairs well with Pettyjohn in his portrayal of the junior jock in the family, Trip Richardson. The division in the children starts with Moody (Gavin Lewis) who beats to his own drum and steals the hearts of many in his genuine personality. Izzy (Megan Stott) follows Moody’s lead, though with a little bit more outward resistance to her mother’s wishes.

The beautiful Lexi Underwood executes a flawless and aloof Pearl Warren.

Richardson is a part-time journalist alongside her calling to be a mother of four. She first notices the Warrens when their light blue Chevy hatchback catches her eye, parked in a lot with bags on top of it. The second time she sees this vehicle, Mia has just called as a potential renter at Elena’s parents’ old property in Shaker, Ohio.

Tensions increase as the mothers’ clashing personalities contribute to conflicts over race, raising children and other opinions. Moody befriends Pearl, but sort of abandons him for his socially cooler older siblings. A fellow employee of Mia’s at The Lucky Palace also becomes involved in the mix through one of Elena’s friends that we meet at Book Club.

Episode 4 is fittingly named “The Spider Web” because the plot just gets thicker and thicker as the show goes on. If you’re in for a heated and mystery-filled story, get on Hulu and watch “Little Fires Everywhere.”

 

Created by: Liz Tigelaar

Where to Watch: Hulu

Favorite Episode: “The Spider Web”

If You Like: “Big Little Lies,” “Scandal”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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