Candid Cinema

‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Our lives are made up of one decision after another, and almost all of them are difficult to make. Being indecisive isn’t necessarily bad, but when it comes to life-altering moments in your life, it’s so important to take a minute to think. The new series Tiny Beautiful Things is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. She was once an advice columnist under the pseudonym “Dear Sugar.” After going through her hardships in life, Strayed took on this journey of anonymity to help others see a different perspective. Many people had written letters to Strayed, and she would write them essays in return. She would share tiny moments that affected her and changed how she looked at life as she got older. 

The book is structured differently than the series, and the story unravels differently from Strayed’s experiences. It is loosely adapted from the book because many letters were sent to Sugar. First, we meet Clare Pierce (Kathryn Hahn), who is at a standstill in her life. She has been kicked out of her home because of “financial infidelity” involving money given to her estranged brother without discussing that with her husband, Danny (Quentin Plair). This triggers past emotional trauma that Clare experienced when her mother died of cancer when she was in college. The flashbacks were integrated quite well because it was important to show young Clare (Sarah Pidgeon) going through those tiny moments that affected her later in life. 

The series does dip into a melodrama at times because there were too many terrible things that happened to Clare and her family at once. However, the abundance of familial issues does give viewers a full scope of many life experiences that one can relate to. The letters that Clare receives from people put her life into perspective as she begins to psychoanalyze her position in everyone’s life and how detached she has been. At times the stories from the letters didn’t mesh well with what was presently happening to Clare until she explained the thread of her thoughts. It shows how human connection can be built over the smallest situations or under certain conditions. Not only is Clare trying to understand her life, but she also sees a lot of herself in her daughter, who is going through massive life changes. 

Tiny Beautiful Things is a heavy emotional series that feels cathartic. Even if you don’t connect with Clare and what she has been through, some stories will. Clare’s advice, or rather Strayed’s, is highly effective, and her words will stick with you long after you’ve watched it. It’s more so what’s being said and how it’s shown episodically within the fragments of Clare’s memory than a structured, well-rounded television series. Kathryn Hahn gives another incredible performance. And carries all eight episodes on her shoulders. There is one overarching thread, but the series breaks down that life doesn’t have one main story but tiny, beautiful things that can make up one’s life story. All eight episodes will begin streaming on Hulu Friday, April 7th. 

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