Don’t be misled by the pastel tones of the above picture – Little Birds is anything but a gentle, whimsical watch. It is in fact utterly anarchic and mad, and it’s brilliant.
Anaïs Nin’s erotic short stories have been reimagined in this six part series. We follow the glassy eyed debutante, Lucy Savage, as she flees her dysfunctional family in search of peace…but instead finds an equally dysfunctional marriage. We’ve got a husband grappling with his hidden sexuality, a splash of political tension and a blossoming female friendship. Mix this with a side dish of transgressive sexual desires, and a wine pairing of outfits Vilanelle would be envious of, and you’ve got quite a delicious show.
And whilst it may be wonderfully weird and just a tiny bit camp, it handles complex themes such as psychological manipulation, colonialism and identity, with real skill.
Ellie Harrison in the Independent puts it perfectly when she says: ‘If Wes Anderson and E L James had a love child, and that baby had a trippy, lucid dream, it would probably look and sound a lot like Sky Atlantic’s Little Birds.’ Is that supposed to be a good thing? She’s unsure. ‘It’s unclear exactly which characters to focus on and what their motives are, and tonally the show is confused.’ She concludes by saying maybe, ‘Wes Anderson and E L James each keep to their own sides of the bed.’ Wow, cold.
In the Guardian, Lucy Mangan also calls attention to the ‘slightly stagey, effortful-Wes-Anderson vibe,’ and says that ‘it packs a lot in.’ In reference to the original short stories, Mangan says that the show ‘honours them and their spirit, adding even more to them and making them resonate anew.’ Susannah Goldsbrough of the Telegraph doesn’t have such a glowing report, however, and says that the show ‘does not live up to either its promise, nor its source material.’ She goes on to say, ‘it’s hard to work out what the point of it all is.’ But does good TV really need a point? We’ll leave that question with you.
Summarised, the show is a hectic, pretty to look at, eccentric whirlwind, and well… we quite like it.
First shown August 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.