Tiny Beautiful Things
A mini-series needs to capture its audience pretty fast. There’s a lot of intrigue legwork to do in a short amount of time when there’s only 30-minute episodes to work with, particularly in this age, where high-budget, saga-length instalments are more or less the norm. Tiny Beautiful Things, which is to be released on Disney+ in the UK and is based on the book of the same title by Cheryl Strayed, has some success in this regard. It’s simple TV, really: entertaining enough to keep the viewer on board, but it doesn’t exactly stray into groundbreaking territory.
The dual narrative of Clare (Kathryn Hahn and Sarah Pidgeon), begrudgingly taking on the role of an agony aunt as her life falls apart around her in the present day, and going through the death of her mother and an unexpected pregnancy 20 years previously, is alternated at quite a rate. Stark filters assist the viewer to keep track of this while the characters aren’t yet familiar and, as a result, it’s only a little bit tricky to follow. Lots is left to the audience to piece together between the two eras, some of which is quite emotive. There’s a genuine sense of a life lived with Clare’s character, brought about not least by a pair of strong performances from Hahn and Pidgeon.
The script is amusing but unconvincing at points. The writers’ approach to teenagers is extremely on the nose, for example, and other characters, such as Clare’s nonchalant bartender friend Amy or her daughter’s entitled millennial classmate Montana, struggle to muster up more than a single dimension.
Short episodes are quite handy for the busy TV consumer, and although there’s a challenge to pull such a project off without it becoming too fractured, Tiny Beautiful Things accomplishes this. It doesn’t smack of freshness and reinvention, but this little series has its charms and should be on the shortlist for those who aren’t accustomed to having a whole lot of spare time to play with.
Tiny Beautiful Things is released on Disney+ on 7th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Tiny Beautiful Things here: