‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ review: Kathryn Hahn brings ‘Dear Sugar’ advice column to life

‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ review: Kathryn Hahn brings ‘Dear Sugar’ advice column to life

Hulu’s Tiny Attractive Points life up to its title, revealing beauty in every little thing from a purple balloon on a bus to glow-in-the-dim stars caught to a bedroom ceiling. But by far the most beautiful issue about the sequence is Kathryn Hahn’s primary overall performance, which provides a touching seem at how we work via life’s messes, huge and smaller.

Hahn plays Clare Pierce, a lady whose daily life is mere inches absent from rock base. Her spouse, Danny (Quentin Plair), and daughter, Rae (Tanzyn Crawford), have kicked her out and want practically nothing to do with her, and she’s on skinny ice at her retirement home work. She also continues to grieve the loss of her mom, Frankie (Merritt Wever), who handed absent through Clare’s senior yr of school. (In flashbacks, Sarah Pidgeon plays younger Clare.)

A prospect to strengthen her situation comes from the most surprising of locations: information column “Pricey Sugar.” No, Clare doesn’t get any daily life-shifting information from Sugar. She truly requires in excess of crafting the column for an previous friend. Turns out that listening and responding to other people’s have struggles might be just what Clare needs to get started to mend.


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Small Attractive Items adapts Cheryl Strayed’s ebook of essays of the identical identify.

A woman holds her daughter's chin while the two sit in a car.

Kathryn Hahn and Tanzyn Crawford in “Small Wonderful Points.”
Credit history: Jassica Brooks / Hulu

You may possibly know creator Cheryl Strayed from her memoir Wild, about her experience climbing the Pacific Crest Path. She also wrote the assistance column “Dear Sugar” for on-line literary magazine The Rumpus from 2010 to 2012. Her “Expensive Sugar” essays ended up then printed as a ebook, on which Tiny Beautiful Items is centered — somewhat.

Small Stunning Issues won’t endeavor to adapt the essays by themselves. As a substitute, the clearly show weaves its substance by means of a fictionalized model of Strayed’s lifetime. Some features of Clare’s working experience line up with Strayed’s, this kind of as her rural upbringing and the loss of life of her mother. On the other hand, the clearly show in no way functions as a biography of Strayed.

As Sugar, Clare gets letters inquiring how to handle marital difficulties, sharing worries about youngsters, and additional — all of which are difficulties plaguing Clare herself. The role of Sugar lets Clare to do the job by means of her personal activities and empathize with other people, a approach which Very small Lovely Issues externalizes by means of copious voiceovers of the letters to Sugar as nicely as Clare’s responses. These are lifted just about word for word from the initial “Expensive Sugar” columns, so each episode offers a new dose of deeply individual, moving producing.

There are periods when the voiceovers veer into extremely sweet, common daily life-suggestions territory, though dialogue throughout tends from time to time toward the melodramatic. Nevertheless, Little Stunning Things class corrects with some devastatingly funny moments, including a rant about Chick-fil-A courtesy of Clare and a later send-up of creating retreats.

Kathryn Hahn and Merritt Wever shine in Small Wonderful Points.

A woman in a bathrobe and her daughter in pajamas celebrate in a living room decorated with Christmas lights.

Merritt Wever and Sarah Pidgeon in “Little Wonderful Matters.”
Credit rating: Elizabeth Morris / Hulu

Very small Stunning Things‘ mix of humor and poignancy would not be probable without Hahn at the helm. She plays the messiness of Clare’s life with staggering clarity, building her an open up guide we are unable to tear our eyes from — even when she’s executing something that tends to make us cringe, like an ill-recommended hookup or a sweaty breakdown in front of her daughter’s mate.

Pidgeon does wonderful do the job as young Clare, also, with a performance that mirrors Hahn’s and sets up the important psychological connection concerning Clare and her mom. As Frankie, Wever is the photo of kindness and tolerance — virtually to the place of remaining far too idealized, in some episodes. Continue to, some of the show’s most tragic times come about in sparkles of emotion across her encounter, these as when Clare will not like a coat Frankie bought her for Christmas. In the present, moments like these tear Clare apart, reflecting in her scenes with Rae. It is really very clear she won’t want her daughter to repeat her mistakes, but supplied their strained partnership, how can Clare make amends?

Mother-daughter relationships, those people involving Frankie, Clare, and Rae, make for the coronary heart of Little Stunning Issues. Episodes often draw parallels concerning these pairings as a result of flashbacks. These flashbacks can occasionally be irritating, as we really don’t always get a business plan of wherever in the previous we are. Having said that, specified Small Lovely Issues‘ focus on recollection, this lack of a temporal anchor helps make sense. Memory isn’t really linear: It truly is messy and heartbreaking, but it can also be cathartic. “Pricey Sugar” offers Clare some a great deal-desired catharsis, and by its conclusion, Very small Gorgeous Things, with its have dogged exploration of grief and like, finishes up accomplishing a related impact.

All episodes of Small Beautiful Issues are streaming on Hulu Apr. 7.(Opens in a new tab)