Little fires eventually cause a huge one (spoilers)

By: Ruth Kehinde Digital Editor

This promotional poster for “Little Fires Everywhere,” Hulu’s new miniseries based on a bestselling book by Celeste Ng, shows the two main characters, (L-R) Elena and Mia. Photo courtesy of

The Hulu miniseries, “Little Fires Everywhere,” is based on the New York Times Bestseller by Celeste Ng. It was released on March 18, with a new episode released weekly. This season introduces the viewer to an upper-class family called the Richardsons while they live in the town, Shaker Heights, Ohio, which is displayed as a suburban utopia. Although this family plays a huge part, Shaker is mainly where the highlight is. The show shifts throughout the eight episodes, having Shaker be affected when introduced to Mia Warren (Kerry Washington), a bohemian, free-spirited artist, and her daughter, Pearl (Lexi Underwood) when they move into the Richardson’s family rental home.

As Mia and Pearl finally call a place home after always being on the move, Pearl becomes acquainted with the Richardson family. With Mia being a single mother, co-parent Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) decides to do her duty as a rule follower to sniff into Warren’s past, causing trouble in her family resulting in Elena’s investigative journalist behavior bringing karma onto her.

Elena’s character is portrayed in her usage of microaggressions against ethnicities that aren’t her own, showing her ignorance. This ignorance was passed down to one of Elena’s daughters, Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn) when she got pregnant as a result of unprotected sex and wanted an abortion. With becoming Pearl’s friend, Lexie asked Pearl to support and take care of her but then repaid Pearl by using Pearl’s name at the clinic. Lexie’s reasoning was that her reputation was at risk. This implies that if this were to get out, the only reputation that’ll be down the drain would be Pearl’s. This action exposed the toxic one-sided friendship where Lexie was looking for no one’s best intentions but her own. This portrayed the white privilege that Lexie has, using individuals underneath that category to get her way.

Within the mix of it all, a Chinese birth mother, Bebe Chow (Huang Lu), fights for  custody of her child, that she had given away for a better life, against a white couple, the McCulloughs. Within this custody battle, the primary focus is on if it’ll be better for the Chinese child to be in a household filled with wealth and privilege or within their own culture. When the judge ruled in favor of the McCulloughs, it goes into what Elena’s husband stated in episode seven, “people like Bebe Chow don’t win.” With him saying “people like,” it’s specifying that Chow’s background of her overall being isn’t satisfactory to make it in this world.

“Little Fires Everywhere” is a befitting name because Shaker Heights is displayed in a type of black and white world with different shades of grey. As the characters begin to wake up and see what shackles the world has been putting on their thinking, they slowly grow out of their

stereotypical shells. Not only are the characters going through this transition but the viewer may also have an analysis shift of their own while watching. 

“Little Fires Everywhere” shows how the world is within acts of racism and how it functions in the human race with slapping labels on themselves; having those factors be the little fires that will surely burn equality away. The goal of this show was to depict the message that’s so true to life in a work of fiction, emphasizing the true meaning of motherhood.


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