Binge Break: Witherspoon and Washington are the gold standard in Little Fires Everywhere

The twisty drama, based off the book by Celeste Ng, is your newest Hulu obsession.

Kayli Reese, Managing Editor


Little Fires Everywhere is the type of show you know will be nominated for various accolades during award season. Sometimes, this knowledge takes the fun out of a movie or show for me before I see it.

However, this idea was not the case for this show, which dropped the first three episodes on Hulu on March 17.

I consumed them all in a three-hour binge over my long spring break, and the capital-d Drama and fantastic acting was the perfect distraction from the news going on outside. When Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are leading the charge, all we can do as viewers is faithfully follow their path.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, Little Fires Everywhere starts with, as one might assume, a fire, which in this case is the house fire of Elena Richardson (Witherspoon). We won’t know who purposely set her house ablaze until the last episode — Hulu is releasing the rest of the season an episode at a time until the finale in mid-April — but the constant questions surrounding the lives of the two central women are more than enough to keep viewers on edge until then.

Witherspoon’s character is the type of person that is aggressive in how much she wants you to like her, usually to the opposite effect. She needs everything completely neat and planned, thank you very much, including her Abercrombie and Fitch-model children. A ginormous color-coded calendar dictates every moment of the Richardson family’s lives (I know we’re supposed to find the calendar to be too much, but frankly I respect the hell out of it).

But for the most part, all I can see is Witherspoon, and I find her impossible to dislike. She allows Elena’s tender moments to shine through and keep the character from being completely odious.

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It’s Washington’s single mom Mia Warren that is far more interesting, however. She rolls into Richardson’s town wrapped in strange circumstances and nightmares, trying to build a life for her daughter. We likely won’t know all the details about Mia until the final episode, but it’s a journey I’m so ready to go on.

It’s Mia’s reaction to the “picturesque” town she finds herself in that really makes Washington own the screen. Each time Elena does something that is more hurtful than helpful — offering Mia a job as a housekeeper, which has all sorts of racial implications — Washington is able to convey a lifetime of prejudice in a fake smile. Washington deserves every single ounce of praise that’s been heaped upon her since her Scandal days.

Washington and Witherspoon play off their tension perfectly, both repelled by the other’s lifestyle and attracted to a different way of life and motherhood. All of the actors playing their children are wonderful, as well, intersecting in all sorts of new ways when entering each other’s lives. I especially love the dynamic between Mia’s daughter and Elena’s younger son, one lovelorn and one just happy to be included.

I’ll sit in anticipation for the following episodes, which I’m sure will include just as much master acting and mystery as the first three. The consequences of the third episode are sure to create more drama, as the Parasite-esque scene left me desperately wishing for more.

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