In 'Little Fires Everywhere,' Is Izzy Behind the House Fire?

The first three episodes just dropped on Hulu.

The character Izzy from 'Little Fires Everywhere'
(Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

This week, Hulu dropped the first three episodes of its highly anticipated miniseries Little Fires Everywhere, the Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington-helmed drama that's based on the bestselling book by Celeste Ng. The remaining five episodes will come out each Wednesday for the next five weeks: March 25, April 1, April 8, April 15, and April 22. If you've already binged the first three episodes and am clamoring for more, you probably have some big questions on your mind. Like: Are Pearl and Moody a thing, or no? And who set that colossal house fire that we saw in the beginning of episode one—the one that, presumably, the title of the book comes from?

We know it's arson; that much is made clear within the first five minutes of the show. "Little fires everywhere" had been set within the Richardson's house, the fire chief (I assume?) explains to Elena, a.k.a. Reese Witherspoon. Which means that, according to the aforementioned fire chief, the Richardsons' house was burned down on purpose. With—and this is an important detail—Elena was inside. Which sets up to central premise of the show: Who hated Elena so much that they'd try to burn them alive?

The fire chief, for one, thinks it's Izzy—and so you, the viewer, assume it must be as well, all without knowing anything about Izzy (remember, we're still in the first five minutes here). Izzy is introduced shortly thereafter as a 14-year-old rebel, a depressed and isolated adolescent with a penchant for candles and hair-burning (these hints aren't subtle) with a love-hate relationship with her family. All pretty normal for a 14-year-old—except for the part where Izzy goes on to potentially burn down her family home. With her mom in it.

A scene from 'Little Fires Everywhere'

(Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

We don't have to speculate, however; Little Fires Everywhere is based on Celeste Ng's book of the same name, meaning viewers who can't bear to wait don't have to. (Ng also helped produce the show, so we can assume it likely stayed true to her vision.) In the book, Izzy, who becomes attached to Pearl (the daughter of Kerry Washington's Mia), watches as Pearl is betrayed by both Izzy's brothers, Moody and Trip, as well as Lexie. In retaliation, Izzy, lonely and depressed, sets her siblings' beds on fire. At the time, Izzy thinks that Elena is out of the house (which, obviously, is not true), but Elena manages to escape. After the fire, Izzy runs away, vowing to never return.

It's an interesting variation on the "bad sheep" trope: Because her siblings and her mother immediately assume Izzy has set the fire, the viewer moves through the episodes waiting to be proven wrong. It's a compelling twist that Izzy is not, in fact, not the arsonist, but that the show—like the book before it—humanizes her to the point where the character's actions make sense.

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