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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: Lessons in Chemistry - Limited Series

Set in the early 1960s, Elizabeth Zott's dream of being a chemist is put on hold when she finds herself pregnant, alone, and fired from her lab.


Brie Larson, Aja Naomi King, Lewis Pullman & Kevin Sussman.


"Lessons in Chemistry," the TV adaptation of Bonnie Garmus's novel, introduces Brie Larson in a role that showcases her talent but at times feels inconsistent. Larson's performance can be a rollercoaster, with moments of brilliance followed by sudden shifts in her character that leave the audience questioning her performative motivations. It's as if her character has a split personality, making for some strange and abrupt moments in the narrative.


However, the show starts off on a strong note with its first two episodes. The production design is visually engaging, immersing viewers in the world of 1960s chemistry. The chemistry between Brie Larson and Lewis Pullman is undeniable and contributes significantly to the show's appeal. The pacing is well-executed, keeping the energy levels high and drawing viewers into the story.


In terms of storytelling, "Lessons in Chemistry" opts for a relatively simple narrative that doesn't attempt to revolutionize the genre. While it may not break new ground, the story remains consistently enjoyable, offering a straightforward yet engaging plot.

Where the series truly shines is in its fearless exploration of gender inequality, politics, and sexism. It boldly tackles these themes head-on, sparking important conversations about the challenges faced by women in male-dominated fields. For viewers, especially women, this portrayal can be empowering.


Visually, the show boasts good cinematography, though it doesn't introduce any groundbreaking techniques. There are, however, some controversial decisions made throughout the series. These moments may leave viewers with a sour taste and disrupt the overall pacing and flow of the story. Some choices come across as left-field and awkwardly placed, introducing elements that don't seem to fit within the established narrative framework.


Nevertheless, "Lessons in Chemistry" manages to recover in the latter half of the season, getting back on track after a somewhat choppy middle section. The character dynamics between Brie Larson and Lewis Pullman, continue to impress, and Aja Naomi King's portrayal of Harriet Sloan is nothing short of fantastic.


In terms of dialogue, the show delivers a consistent performance, though there are moments when certain lines fall flat. However, there are also instances of sharp and witty dialogue that provide comic relief and contribute to the well developed character development.


In summary, "Lessons in Chemistry" is a series that presents a mix of highs and lows. While it may not be flawless, it manages to provide an engaging narrative, strong performances from its cast, and a valuable exploration of important themes like gender inequality and politics. Despite occasional missteps, it's a show that sparks conversation and leaves a lasting impact.


3.5 / 5

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