Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Little Fires Everywhere goes out in a blaze, plus an Earth Day chat with the Jane Goodall

Kerry Washington, Jane Goodall
Kerry Washington, Jane Goodall
Photo: Hulu, Michael Haertlein (National Geographic)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, April 22. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu, 3:01 a.m, series finale): At a certain point in the finale for this complicated, compelling series, an opportunity will present itself, and we strongly encourage you to take full advantage. You will have the chance, should you dare, to lean over to the person you’re watching with (or forward toward the video of the person you’re Zooming with) and whisper these little words: “Those are the little fires everywhere.”

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Here’s Saloni Gajjar on the tense penultimate episode:

The episode ends without any verdict on the May Ling/Mirabelle case but Bill assures a panicked Elena that someone like Bebe—a poor, marginalized undocumented immigrant—doesn’t stand a chance against a rich white family like the McCulloughs especially in a town like Shaker Heights. Even I could have told her that. Bebe and her lawyer put up a hard fight but it’s hard to imagine a victory for her when her only source of support in the court is another poor, marginalized woman of color.

Little Fires Everywhere is surprisingly adept at raising questions about what the society values as a good upbringing, shedding light on this subject in various ways through its characters. It hasn’t been a perfect journey, or even a perfect adaptation of its source material, but the show sure has tightened up its rough edges as it nears the end. Next week’s finale is sure to be a dramatic tumbling of all the dominoes it has laid out over seven episodes.

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Look for her finale review—and at least one or two more unbearably tense moments—later this morning, along with Gwen Ihnat’s postmortem interview with showrunner Liz Tigelaar.

Can you binge it? Yes, as of today the complete miniseries is available on Hulu.

Regular coverage

Mrs. America (FX On Hulu, 3:01 a.m.)
What We Do In The Shadows (FX, 10:00 p.m.)

Wild card

Jane Goodall: The Hope (simulcasting on National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD and Nat Geo MUNDO, 9 p.m. ET)

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An unofficial follow-up to Brett Morgen’s Jane, this National Geographic special is replete with archival footage and images, testimonials from colleagues, and Dame Jane Goodall’s message of optimism. The A.V. Club spoke with Dr. Goodall about how we can celebrate Earth Day while sheltering in place, and keep our conservation efforts going even after.

The A.V. Club: Earth Day is typically celebrated with outdoor events, but since we’re all sheltering in place, how would you recommend that people observe the holiday?

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Jane Goodall: Well, it depends who you are and where you are. Some people can do something in their gardens. Even in a city, you can look out and see animals. But I think the most important thing is to think about why this lockdown situation has occurred. Is it because of our disrespect for the natural world, or disrespect of animals that’s led to animals coming together who shouldn’t be together? When you look at the conditions—animals are put in closer contact with humans, viruses spilling over from them into people. The horrible trafficking, the cruel conditions in the markets where they sold wild animals for food or pets from Asia. But it’s also Africa with the bush meat. There’s hold over America, too, with people having close contact with wild animals. I think there should be a day of reflection and perhaps learning as much as you can about the natural world.

AVC: You recently wrote a piece for Slate about how this over-reliance on meat in certain economies and countries, as you just stated, may have played a factor. But you also touched on how your organization is trying to help people find alternate means, try to help them cultivate a different livelihood. Can you talk a bit more about those efforts?

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JG: In 1960, I flew over Gombe, which had been part of a forest stretching across Equatorial Africa. By 1990, it was a tiny island of forest surrounded completely by hills. There were people, more than the land could support, struggling to survive, cutting down the last trees because they were desperate to grow more food to feed their family. And that’s when I realized we can’t hope to save the chimps unless we can help these people find ways of living without destroying their environment, upon which they depend as well as wildlife. So there are options like a microcredit program. There are environmentally sustainable projects, like buying a few chickens, then selling the eggs. Starting a tree nursery and using a patch of land to grow shade-grown coffee—all these kinds of things. Now that people have become our partners, they’re looking after their forests knowing it’s their own future.

AVC: You focus a lot on individual impact. At a time when it seems like our institutions are failing us or struggling to provide us with real leadership, is it more necessary than ever to focus on the small actions we can take as individuals?

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JG: Yes, I think as long as we realize that every single day we live, we’re making a difference. Those of us who aren’t living in poverty have to work to alleviate poverty. But we also have to make ethical choices. What do we buy? What do we wear? What do we eat? Did it harm the environment? Was it cruel to animals, like the intensive farms? Is it cheap because of child slave laborers or sweatshops? If billions of people start making ethical choices, ones that will do something about the unsustainable standards of living that we have. Children can and do grow up and influence their parents and their grandparents.

AVC: Since you won’t be out and about for Earth Day, will you be taking it easy?

JG: [Laughs.] I have never been as busy in my life as I am now. I’m doing video messages, Skypes, podcasts, Zooms, reading books for children. I’m starting on reading books for adults who are isolated and sometimes lonely. Hundreds and hundreds of emails, phone calls. I’ve never ever been as busy as I am now.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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