Lessons in Chemistry – Episode 1 “Little Miss Hastings” Recap & Review

Little Miss Hastings

In Lessons in Chemistry Episode 1, we see Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson) as the host of a popular cooking show, Supper at Six. One of the reasons the show is so popular, we can gather, is that Elizabeth treats what is traditionally ascribed as “women’s work” with the utmost respect and importance. But she wasn’t always a TV host.

Jumping back seven years to the year 1951, we see Elizabeth as a lab technician at Hastings. She wants to focus on her research and hopes to get a PhD (she only has her Masters due to sex discrimination), but it seems everyone at Hastings only sees her for her gender, and often mistakes her for a secretary. Her coworkers think it’s more important for her to join the Little Miss Hastings pageant than for her to do the work she’s there to do.

Refusing to join the pageant, Elizabeth focuses on her research. Staying late when she’s not supposed to, she sneaks into the lab of the well-respected Dr. Calvin Evans to take some of his ribose for her own experiments. Unfortunately, head secretary Fran catches her and reports her to Dr. Donatti, who then pressures Elizabeth into joining the pageant, not caring to listen to her proposal for an important grant.

Elizabeth and Calvin get off to a rocky start when he discovers her theft (he too mistakes her for a secretary), but he’s certainly intrigued by Elizabeth when he learns she’s a chemist. He decides to attend the Little Miss Hastings pageant to return the ribose to her. There, his allergies act up, and Elizabeth ends up taking the sick man home.

After this encounter, Calvin starts eating with Elizabeth at the cafeteria (or rather, starts eating off her plate). He’s amazed by her cooking skills and scientific intelligence, and how the two mesh.

When he learns that Elizabeth has faced discrimination for her gender, he’s baffled. Apparently, the man has never given a thought to why there are so few women scientists, but now that he’s thinking about it, he doesn’t like it. So he comes up with a plan for Elizabeth to become his lab tech. She can do her own research, and if they publish any research together, he’ll list her as the lead scientist.

Elizabeth feels unsure about his optimism, but it’s the best option she has, so she accepts. Working together is a learning curve, but they seem to be strong partners. They also might be starting to fall for each other.

But Calvin ruins it when he bursts into the office one day and closes the door, something that’s against Elizabeth’s rules. He’s so preoccupied with a revelation he’s had that he doesn’t notice Elizabeth panicking. She’s had an incident before where someone closed a door to keep them alone, and she hasn’t recovered from whatever happened.

When Elizabeth runs out of the lab, Calvin asks her what’s wrong. She tells him that this arrangement isn’t going to work.

The episode ends with another flash forward. On her cooking show, Elizabeth pulls out a burned lasagna from the oven.

The Episode Review

The first thing that stands out to me about Apple TV’s Lessons in Chemistry is its perfectly cast leads. Brie Larson embodies her role as the shrewd, neurodivergent, lovable chemist. And I fully believe Lewis Pullman as the charming but often oblivious, and absolutely lovestruck Calvin.

I loved this premiere; it fully captured me to Elizabeth’s side, and I’m now fully worried about what will happen with her and Calvin’s research, if it continues at all. I worry that even a well-meaning man such as Calvin may not understand the extent of acclaim he’s willing to give up. Or that, even if he is fully supportive, something else is going to threaten Elizabeth’s happiness and success. I suppose we wouldn’t have this story if that weren’t the case.

I am very much looking forward to her journey to becoming a cooking show host. It looks like it will be an interesting and difficult path.


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