Most of us who have an Apple TV+ subscription got it because during the pandemic, we thought we’d beat the blues with a bit of retail therapy and treat ourselves to a new phone or laptop, and then the overlords at Apple chucked in a year’s free access to their streaming service. However, most of us hardly use it, because whilst they might have the slickest phones and computers, they’ve got a long way to go to beat the bigger, shinier streamers. But maybe it’s time to blow the dust off and load up Apple TV+, because it turns out there’s a hidden gem hiding out there: Little America.
It’s an anthology series telling the stories of immigrants who have moved to America. Told in eight instalments, each episode is a drama based on a real story of life in a new country, and each one is completely captivating in its own way.
We start off with The Manager, which follows a young boy named Kabir who is left to run the family motel on his own when his parents leave for India after fear of being deported. Having a love for words, Kabir enters the National Spelling Bee, hearing that the finalists get to meet Laura Bush – he decides he will do his best to get there, and have her hear him on the situation with his parents, and ask for help. He gets there, but help doesn’t come, and as viewers we are left in the emotional murkiness that follows the crash after the excitement of hope. And these complex emotions are a continuing theme throughout the series, as we explore class, poverty, culture and the realities of the undocumented existence.
This being an anthology, each story is entirely different, with different characters and actors, and with immigrants from different countries, and each episode is just half an hour long, meaning that you can pick up and put down the series as and when you feel ready for another story. But you’d be forgiven for binge watching the lot – whilst they don’t comment directly on the state of American politics and their fallout, this series humanises the 26% of the United States’ population, who are labelled as immigrants.
The series has now been nominated for the BAFTA for best international series, and has been praised widely by the critics. The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan calls it “truly radical TV” that showcases “a set of small, intimate endeavours that feature no star names and that privilege storytelling above all else.” Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk praises the series for “its refusal to bow to the simplicity of short truisms about its subjects. They are “hard work pays off stories,” and they are “immigration is hard” stories, yes. But each of them is also much more lovely and painful and complicated than those easy summations.” And Caroline Framke in Variety says, that as a result, the writers of Little America “wrote an anthology that speaks not only to the breadth of immigrant experience, but to the bittersweet thread of loss that unites them all.”
First shown January 2020. You can watch the trailer here: