It's a rare feat for any adaptation to deviate from the source material and come out better for it, but Amazon Prime Video's new mini-series, Little Fires Everywhere, has managed it.
Created for APV by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington's production companies Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street, the series takes on Celeste Ng's novel with some pivotal changes which allows it to reach a wider, more diverse and more current audience.
Starring Witherspoon and Washington (who also served as executive producers alongside Ng), the story follows two American mums as they try to navigate motherhood as well as their own dreams, plans, secrets and shortcomings.
There's Elena, a wealthy, white, privileged mother of four with major control issues and a need for perfection. And there's Mia, a free-spirited, black, solo mother running from her past and trying to make ends meet for her teenage daughter Pearl, while still feeding her own passion.
By delving into each woman's history, family and darkest secrets, the show examines racial and economic divides, white privilege, financial wealth vs emotional wealth and, through Elena and Mia's children, the idea - or rather, the lie - that the grass is greener on the other side.
The series is superbly cast, with Washington portraying awe-inspiring tension and restraint as Mia, and Witherspoon who, rather than fancying herself as Hollywood's stereotypical "white saviour", leans into her own white privilege as Elena to show - rather than tell - its insidious nature.
In the book, Mia's race was never explicitly stated and certainly, the focus on her and her daughter's black identities was not part of the story because Ng, a Chinese-American woman, felt ill-equipped to speak on the African-American experience (someone have Ng teach a course in representation to Hollywood, please and thank you).
The series' showrunner, Liz Tigelaar, faced a similar setback but remedied it by gathering a writer's room of almost all women who could speak to experiences of black women, being adopted and more, allowing the series to delve into issues the book never could. It asked the right people the right questions and listened to their answers to make that happen - again, an area in which Hollywood has been falling woefully short in its bid to diversify.
Is Little Fires perfect? Not quite. I don't know if they needed to make Mia and Izzy (Elena's youngest daughter) gay where, in the book, Izzy's sexuality is never raised and Mia appears to be asexual. It's always cool to have representation but I also can't help but feel they made Izzy gay to give an "obvious" reason for her to be such an outcast. Besides, I'm sure the asexual community would've been stoked for some representation too because that is not a queer identity that ever makes mainstream media - unless it's for comedic value (looking at you Big Bang Theory).
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Then there's the ending which will likely be controversial, as the answer to "whodunit?" is not the same here as it is in the book but I honestly don't know which is better - or should I say worse?
The book's ending is a bit cliched and obvious, while the show's ending is far too neatly wrapped and its messaging almost condescendingly on the nose.
In fact, a lot of the show's messaging is; right down to Mia setting the scene for an arson by talking about life growing anew from scorched earth, to her daughter Pearl literally writing the moral of the story in the final episode.
Some of the storylines feel like unnecessary plot devices for example, Pearl's love triangle feels like an excuse to comment on men's entitlement to and perceived ownership of women, and Lexi's relationship with Brian feels like an excuse to explain to the audience why being "colour blind" is problematic.
Other storylines feel neglected; the main conflict of a Chinese woman trying to get her baby back from a powerful white family feels like a footnote in Mia's story and a feather in Elena's cap. And Elena herself could've used some more fleshing out, particularly regarding her relationship with her mother and the reasoning behind her neurosis, rather than her simply serving as a villain because she didn't get her way.
However, in the grand scheme of things, these are negligible issues. What Little Fires does right, eclipses the things it could've done better and if Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington - and their ever-growing network of female production powerhouses - continue on this track, they could be a massive part of changing the Hollywood landscape forever.