Little Fires Everywhere S1E1 with R. Eric Thomas, Abbe Wright, and Emma Shafer


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Today on The Adaptables, Abbe and Emma dive right in with episode one of the Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng’s bestselling novel, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE. They’re joined by R. Eric Thomas, author of HERE FOR IT: OR, HOW TO SAVE YOUR SOUL IN AMERICA, and Senior Staff Writer of

Abbe, Emma, and Eric discuss complicated mother/daughter relationships, race, their favorite '90s moments in the show, Joshua Jackson’s epic underwear moment, and more.

Discussion breakdown:

  • Recap of TV episode (2:30–4:30)
  • Izzy lighting her hair on fire (“Your hair’s your best feature!” Is Izzy doing this on purpose?) (4:30–5:15)
  • The complicated relationship between Izzy and Mia / Mia and Pearl (5:15–9:30)
  • Bill as Joshua Jackson vs. his depiction in the book (9:30–11:05)
  • Elena’s “discreet wine” (11:05–12:00)
  • A better recap! (12:00–17:00)
  • Quote from Celeste Ng “The TV show does dramatize the events more. You need something that makes the reader come back and watch the next episode. That’s the nature of a TV series.” (17:00–17:40)
  • Favorite Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon moments (17:40–20:50)
  • Race conversation (Mia and Pearl as black characters) (20:50–21:19)
  • Quote from Celeste Ng about race, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo (12:19–23:20)
  • Eric on being black in white spaces, class differences, ‘90s wokeness, “who has the right to raise a child?” (23:20–26:40)
  • Pearl as the well-read one (26:40–27:50)
  • Modern touches of show (27:50–28:30)
  • Favorite ‘90s moments: soundtrack, nicotine patch, Janet Reno, Oklahoma City Bomber, ankle weights, Reeboks, Shasta, “Puka shell necklaces are how you know a white man is hot.” (28:30–31:30)
  • Quote from Celeste Ng on the ‘90s touches of the show “They did a lot that the viewers may not notice to make the world feel like it was authentically of the time.” (31:30–32:05)
  • More ‘90s talk (32:05–33:10)
  • Quote from Celeste Ng on Izzy’s rebellion at concert “Not your puppet” (33:10–34:00)
  • Emma and Eric on orchestra moment (34:00–35:20)
  • Exposition, how show adapts to tell story through TV, how we learn about characters (35:20–37:00)
  • Not in book: Pearl’s poetry as exposition (37:00)
  • Emma’s dope hideaway, Abbe’s inflatable chair (38:30–39:10)
  • Joshua Jackson’s package (“There was definition.” “I gasped audibly.”) (39:10–40:00)
  • Quote from Celeste Ng on Joshua Jackson in Tighty Whities (40:00–40:15)
  • Elena’s character and worldview and her relationship with Bill, sex (40:15–41:30)
  • Sex on TV vs. sex in print (41:30–44:30)
  • Episode 1 setting up some great things (44:30–47:00)
  • Eric, Emma, and Abbe’s favorite adaptations (47:00–48:30)
  • What are we reading now? (48:30–50:00)

TV show recap:

  • Someone has burned down the house. Was it Izzy?
  • Mia and Pearl arrive in town, are sleeping in car
  • Mia and Elena meet, Elena shows Mia the apartment
  • Izzy and Pearl become friends, Pearl is introduced to Richardson household
  • Lexie, Tripp, Moody, and Izzy are introduced
  • We meet Linda (Rosemary DeWitt)
  • Mia and Elena talk about Mia being the house manager
  • Moody and Pearl bond
  • Izzy’s violin recital, writing “Not your puppet” across forehead and refusing to play
  • Fights between Izzy/Elena, Mia/Pearl
  • Mia giving a peace offering to Pearl
  • Two cliffhangers: Elena talks to reference and he’s never heard of Mia Warren. Mia is developing picture of Elena


  1. 🔥 House on fire
  2. 🔥 Credits and title card (everything on fire)
  3. 🔥 Izzy’s hair on fire
  4. 🔥 Izzy with her candles and lighter

The Adaptables is a podcast from Read it Forward and Penguin Random House that dives into your favorite book-to-screen adaptations. This season, we’re watching the Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng's LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE. Join hosts Abbe Wright and Emma Shafer as we interview authors, insiders and Celeste Ng, herself, about what makes an adaptable great, why watching and reading are important self-care rituals, and the many other books and shows we are binging and loving right now. Because at The Adaptables, we love to watch what we read. (Warning: there will be little spoilers everywhere.)

Send us an email or voice recording to What did you think of the episode? Are you watching the show? Is Hulu’s LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE a successful adaptation of the book?

Follow @ReadItForward on Twitter and Instagram, follow Eric on Twitter and Instagram at @oureric, tweet your thoughts on Episode 1 and other adaptations you love. Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

NEXT UP: We’ll recap episode two with Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of, most recently, DAISY JONES & THE SIX.

22 episodes