Many of the changes Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere made from the 2017 novel are pretty subtle, but one character stands out as by far the most different from her book version: Mia Warren. The most visible change to Mia's character is her race, which added a whole new, complex layer to her contentious relationship with Elena, but the show also made a very important change to her love life as well. Mia's sexuality in Little Fires Everywhere added a complicated new element to her backstory.
It was apparent from very early on in the Hulu series that the miniseries' version of Mia would be different from the book's version. In the book, Mia's race as well as the race of her daughter Pearl is left undefined, but Mia, who is black in the show, often points out how her race complicates her life in Shaker Heights — challenging Elena's offer of a maid job and urging Pearl to be extra careful around cops, for example.
Putting Mia's race front and center is only one of the major changes to her character in the series, though. The other big one is Mia's sexuality. In an early episode, Pearl described her mother's carefree attitude towards sex, telling Moody that Mia sleeps with "whoever she wants, whenever she wants." And Episode 6 reveals Mia had an epic love story in her past. Spoiler alert: The rest of this post contains spoilers from Little Fires Everywhere Episode 6, "The Uncanny." In the flashback episode, a young Mia began a romantic relationship with her photography professor Pauline Hawthorne.
Unlike in the show, Pauline served as a platonic mentor to Mia in the book. She actually had a wife named Mal (who was written out of the show); they became like parents to Mia during her time in New York.
In the book, Mia's sexuality is not commented on, but it's implied she's asexual. One passage revealed Mia had never felt romantic love for anyone her whole life, and the only man she'd ever seen naked was her brother when they were kids.
Mia is not the only character whose sexuality changed between the book and the Hulu show — a spotlight was also placed on Izzy Richardson's sexuality. which was never mentioned in the novel. The series implies Izzy's sexuality is one of the reasons she is ostracized, but in the book, it's is never mentioned at all.
Of course, TV adaptations are known for turning up the heat for their characters, so it makes sense the show would dive into sex and romance even when these themes addressed the same way in the book. Plus, the changes add completely new wrinkles to Mia and Izzy that readers were not expecting, and it's certainly keeping viewers thinking.
New episodes of Little Fires Everywhere drop Wednesdays on Hulu.