Episode 1 of Little America season 2 starts with an introduction to Luke, a small boy who works with his mother in her accessory shop, Mr Song’s. According to Luke, who heads outside and begins playing his cello, this is the one-stop shop for all your hats and accessory needs. Luke encourages Martha Jean the Queen, the local radio host, to head in and check out the different hats they have. She’s pretty impressed too, although we learn that business isn’t so good at the moment.
The family are all hard working, with Luke’s father about to head off to New York for business. Luke asks to go with him that night but he’s unfortunately shot down from that idea. However, the family get a big break when Martha calls out Mr Song’s on the radio, suggesting it’s just the place they need for all their accessory needs. And the next day, the shop is super busy and full of people looking for their own personal hats.
Luke works hard with his mother, who’s super grateful to Martha for helping them out. She’s quick to point out that she doesn’t want to get paid for her advertising of the shop, and she just wanted to spread the word.
Time passes and Luke heads off to school, studying to be a doctor. Although his professor is quick to point out that he has a real future in this, his passions lie with the arts. When Luke returns home, Martha is there to offer a helping hand and an encouraging word, pointing out that only he can shape his own future.
Of course, Luke’s future has already been preordained by his family but that night, Luke speaks up and decides he’s going to drop out. Despite there only being one more semester left, Luke wants to go to art school and follow his passions. Luke’s father is not happy, pointing out that he’s sacrificed everything to give his own son a bright future. But it’s not the future Luke wants, as we so clearly can see.
Luke applies for college all the same and he gets in too. He’s been accepted with honors and tells his father that day. Luke though, stands up to his dad and tells him he’s good at this. He applied for eight different art schools and was accepted to every single one. He’s going to follow his passion no matter what.
Things don’t go according to plan though, especially when he realizes art school is nothing like he expected. They don’t have a syllabus and he’s not a fan of conceptual art, which is how they’re teaching everything. Luke just wants people to be moved by his art. So naturally, Luke heads back home and gives up.
However, Luke keeps that same work ethic and works super hard to produce a custom-made hat for Martha-Jean. Luke’s mother sees the hard work her son is putting in, but Luke chimes in, pointing out that she’s an artist and he’s always been inspired by her.
When Luke and his mum take the plunge and head to church with Martha Jean, they allow a smile to cross their faces as they get up and start clapping along to the music.
So what happened to Mr Song’s? Well, apparently it became the most famous hat shop in Detroit and in fact, Luke made Aretha Franklin’s famous bow hat for the Obama inauguration too! As for Martha Jean and Luke, the pair remained close friends for life. Martha was eventually buried with her Nefertiti hat.
The Episode Review
Little America returns with a heartwarming first chapter, one that does a great job introducing the Song family with the thematic idea of following your dreams and doing everything you can to try and succeed in this world.
Stepping away from the crowd and doing something completely different to the norm is always difficult and there will always be naysayers. Luke finally finds his calling in making hats, using his artistic skills to great use.
There’s also a nice dig at art school and how pretentious the whole thing can feel, especially when it comes to “modern” art and what really constitutes as artwork. As a side note here, I think many of us will agree we’d rather go to a gallery full of drawings and paintings like Luke’s!