The latest TV Drama to hit Amazon Prime centres around the picture-perfect lives of the Richardson family, and the mother and daughter who come into it, only to change everything. Here’s why you should watch it.
Set in the 90’s, the show follows two polar-opposite mothers as they end up in each other’s lives. Mia and Pearl Warren arrive in Shaker Heights after living out of their car, and as an act of charity, Elena Richardson offers the duo to rent her family’s spare house. If things didn’t feel strained enough, Mia meets someone in desperate need of her help.
There’s no doubt about it, the series is a mesmerising watch. Reminiscent of Big Little Lies, it gives us the idyllic setting and tears it down over the course of each episode, leaving you wanting more every time. The conflicts and secrets gradually bubble under the surface to offer a blazing climax.
It’s based on a bestseller
Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestselling novel of the same name is the reason the show’s here. Though fictional, the setting of the book takes place in the author’s hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio, which we think always makes for an interesting foundation when it comes to drawing up the little details of the town. The show takes the source material and runs with it, even putting its stamp on some of the book’s key moments to keep it fresh for viewers who already know the story. We do love a great book-to-screen adaptation, and this one is definitely on the list of worthy stories to be both read and watched.
The casting couldn’t be better
Reese Witherspoon puts on her Stepford-wives attire and gives a stellar performance as Elena Richardson. Though Elena may initially come across as sweet and naïve, we soon learn that she’s a dangerous woman defined by her privilege, and desire to keep up her perfect appearance. Witherspoon is fixating as Elena; she’s sharp, uncomfortably funny at times, but above all, just too good at emitting callousness. Watch out for her glass-shattering scene in the finale, as she somehow reaches a pitch we didn’t know was humanly possible – remarkable.
Fans of Scandal rejoice! Kerry Washington is back and she’s fiercer than ever. Starring as Mia Warren, the enigmatic matriarch and free-spirited artist, she delivers a raw and moving performance. Sometimes leaving us with nothing more than an aggressive facial expression or look, it’s remarkable how Washington is able to convey her character’s pain and aggressions without saying a single world. Mia is a force to be reckoned with, and Washington lets that be known.
Whilst the series main premise is the battle of the two matriarchs, it also does a fantastic job with casting the Richardson children and Pearl Warren. Young actress Lexi Underwood plays Mia’s daughter, Pearl, and gives us a powerful and sensitive performance in her breakout role.
When it comes to Elena’s kids, the entertaining performances don’t stop there either. Her eldest, Lexie, is portrayed by Jade Pettyjohn and we’re still pretty convinced that she’s a mini Witherspoon, giving her on-screen mum a real run for her money in the end. Megan Stott is Izzy, the black sheep of the family, and brings a lot of emotion to her complex character. As for the boys, Gavin Lewis and Jordan Elsass elegantly bring teenage problems to the forefront as Moody and Trip.
It wrestles with real issues
What’s admirable about Little Fires is its ability to delicately tackle real life issues, but also challenge them. From race and class, to privilege, sex, motherhood and family, there’s enough in there to make it relatable and thought-provoking as to how society is today. Though the number of different issues raised are a tad ambitious to completely land in just 8 episodes, the show does a great job at getting you thinking. You’ll end up deliberating on if a character’s actions are wrong or right, but you’ll also see how defining wrong and right can be considerably different depending on each individual’s circumstances. It’s a show asking you to look beyond the picket fence.
It looks good
Perfectly put together, Little Fires is meticulous for its attention to detail. With the all American houses painted in pastel colours or designed to look quite Church-esque, Shaker Heights looks dreamy and serene. Inside the Richardson’s house, it eludes riches and grandeur; large in size and pristinely decorated according to the time period. Contrastingly, the Warren’s new home is still nice but much smaller and unmade, though ever warmer in tone.
The costumes and props are also nostalgic of the era. Elena may rock her pretty uptight clad and don her wealth of pearls throughout the show, but it’s the flashbacks to the car phones, mom-jeans and flares, Doc Martens and chokers which makes for great viewing appreciation.
It’s got a banging soundtrack
The sound of Little Fires offers us some great tracks to indulge in. From soul to hip-hop, and classics to fresh covers, we still can’t stop listening to it on repeat. Some of our favourites include Judith Hill’s ‘In the Air Tonight’ and Ruby Amanfu’s ‘Bitch’, mixed in with a little bit of ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC and The Cardigans ‘Lovefool’.
You’ll whiz through it
The great thing about limited series is the fact that you don’t have to wait 5 or so years for the ultimate conclusion. At only 8 episodes long, we’ll place our bets that you’ll finish this over a weekend.