Tiny Beautiful Things Season 1 Review – Emotional coming of age story is authentic to a fault

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4/5


Hulu’s Tiny Beautiful Things is not solely based on the collection of advice columns written by Cheryl Strayed. The entire past timeline is taken from her book Wild, which was also made into a movie starring Witherspoon as Strayed. Kathryn Hahn stars as the adult Clare, while Sarah Pidgeon stars as the younger version. The two timelines run simultaneously as Clare uses her life experiences to answer the letter posted to her in the column, Dear Sugar.

The letters from people seek advice on various topics, ranging from relationships and family to grief and identity. Clare’s responses are personal and insightful, drawing on her own experiences and perspectives.

Due to the nature of the subject matter, Tiny Beautiful Things does not have an edge-of-the-seat kind of action unfolding. Instead, the pacing is derived from how Clare’s present tries to resolve the complexities of the past that have haunted her to date. The narrative potential of Tiny Beautiful Things lies in its ability to tell compelling stories about human connection, struggle, and growth. As a collection of letters and Clare’s past life, the series offers a diverse array of perspectives and experiences that are intertwined.

Tiny Beautiful Things is not completely accurate with respect to Cheryl Strayed’s real-life background. Certain changes are made for the dramatization of the story but these are very petty in their form. Interestingly, Witherspoon played Cheryl in Wild and uses some of her own learnings to characterize Clare. The representation of Clare is quite bold and the presence of women like Laura Dern and Witherspoon at the helm as executive producers amplify the attempt not to paint the younger version of Clare as perfect.

Her flaws are severe and capable of making you feel distanced from the character, as she feels from herself at times. But that is also one of the key ways how we see her coming-of-age journey. Through her own personal anecdotes and reflections, Clare banks on the weight of her struggles with addiction, infidelity, and the loss of her mother. These stories demonstrate how she has grown and changed over time, and how she has learned to take responsibility for her actions.

One of the strengths of Tiny Beautiful Things is its raw honesty. The show does not shy away from difficult or uncomfortable topics and approaches each tangent of Clare’s life with compassion and empathy. Even though the show’s writing is not always wholly accessible, filled with vivid metaphors and imagery, it is still relatable and engaging, and readers can easily connect with Clare’s experiences.

Each episode is bookended with Cheryl’s response. The letters are special because they are raw and honest accounts of people’s lives and experiences. The writers of the letters are often grappling with difficult or complex problems, and their vulnerability and openness make their stories compelling and relatable. Sugar’s guidance makes them feel less alone and softens the distraught state they find themselves in. The show proves that there is value in vulnerability and opening up about your insecurities is the best way to come up with a solution for them.

There is always strength inside one’s character that they are afraid to search for. Along with resilience, there is also an emphasis on forgiveness – for oneself and for others. Interspersing the past and present timelines of Clare’s life creates a sense of dramatic tension and emotional resonance, as it allows viewers to see the character’s personal growth and change over time. By creating parallels between past and present events, viewers can gauge how Clare has changed over time.

Clare’s fiercely protective stance for Frankie stems from her own grief of losing her mother. It is a consuming parallel that is complexly written, making it a double-edged sword. In retrospect, Frankie’s birth here is more of a turning point in her life than anything else.

In addition to her own stories, Clare also offers guidance and support to others, showing how her own struggles have equipped her to help others on their own journeys. She often speaks from a place of hard-won wisdom, offering insights and advice that can only come from lived experience.

One of the key themes in the series is the importance of vulnerability and openness. Clare encourages her readers to be honest about their struggles and to seek help when they need it. The tone is not preachy and the letters are the best bits of the episodes. Clare has the benefit of hindsight and she dips into her well of trauma and struggles to get perspective on her own equation with her daughter Frankie Rae and to help other people.

Overall, Tiny Beautiful Things can be seen as a powerful coming-of-age story, not just for the people who write to Clare, but for Clare herself. Through her own personal anecdotes, reflections, and guidance to others, she demonstrates how she has grown and changed over time, and how she has learned to take responsibility for her own life. By embracing vulnerability and openness, Clare models the behaviour she hopes to inspire in others, and in doing so, creates a space for healing and growth.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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