Watching “Tiny Beautiful Things” just makes us think that grief therapy should compulsorily be taught in schools all over the world. Clare never grew up emotionally after her mother’s death, and at 49 years old, she is facing the repercussions of that. Additionally, we are sure there has been some glitch in the timeline. Clare is 49, and her daughter is in high school; therefore, she must be around 15 or 16 years old. This means that Clare had her when she was around 33–34 years old. However, when watching the series, we got the impression that Clare had Rae in her early twenties or so. But this wasn’t the greatest flaw of the series. It was the portrayal of the “grieving woman.”
For some reason, Hollywood’s idea of a sad woman or man is someone who doesn’t brush their hair, wears faded clothes and doesn’t answer reasonable questions asked of them because they are consumed by grief and anger. We don’t disagree that grief and depression can manifest this way, but this representation of a “messy life” is becoming borderline meme material by its repetitiveness. We find it hard to believe that a person can act the way Clare does without an iota of self-preservation. In the final episode of “Tiny Beautiful Things,” it is painful to watch how Clare dangerously swerves the car off the road without being bothered to wait a second for her daughter to do it. Additionally, when Rae keeps asking her what is going on, Clare doesn’t say a word and is in a deranged state, just not looking beyond what she wants to do. Grief is one thing, but Clare acts without any iota of awareness of her surroundings, and it would be tragic if it were not so irritating and a cliche on screen. We need to find better and more grounded representations of grief.
“Life and Beth” from recent times come to mind, but that is it. Additionally, moving on from the mother, what do writers think teenagers are like? “Angry, emotionally immature, yet woke” seems to be the template. We would have preferred “Tiny Beautiful Things” to just be boring instead of serving us characters that irritate us beyond comprehension. And after all this, the ending remains ambiguous. We will try to make as much sense of it as we can right now, but this has still been tiresome.
Frankie, a single mother, is living with her children, Clare and Lucas while trying to make ends meet on a waitress’ salary. But that is not the worst of their troubles. To be honest, it is a regular household where Clare is a bratty teenager but is still more believable than her daughter will be many years later. There are small incidents littered throughout, which we are going to try and place in a chronological order. Frankie gets her daughter a coat, but Clare says she would prefer one in another color. This is something an adult Clare desperately regrets because it is now that she has the sensitivity to realize that her mother had saved up all summer to buy her that coat. The family is separated from their father, and though Clare doesn’t seem to care very much, Lucas craves his presence.
Eventually, Clare gets married to a boy, Jess, whom she has been seeing for three months. Her mother mentions how it might be too soon and that she doesn’t want Clare to repeat her mistakes, but Clare is flippant and claims that she is different from her mother. On the day of the wedding, however, Clare is scared that she might be making a mistake, and her mother reassures her that she can walk out if she wants to, but Clare goes ahead with the wedding.
Later, when Clare gets accepted into college, they come to know that the student’s parents can enroll in classes for free, and Frankie decides to go since she never got to graduate. Though Clare is initially embarrassed, she eventually becomes supportive of her mother. But it isn’t long before they realize that her mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Clare is devastated, and she pours her all into trying to save her mother. When her mother is in the hospital, the doctor tells Clare that these might be her final days. Clare decides to bring back her brother, who has been avoiding the hospital. She finds him, and both of them go to the hospital the next day, but it is already too late. Their mother has passed away, and she was alone when that happened. Clare is heartbroken, and she tells Lucas that she will never forgive him for this.
On the day of their mother’s open casket service, there are some hiccups, but Clare ends up sleeping with one of the organizers. In college, Clare continues to struggle with her mother’s death, and she sleeps with a person she knew from junior high, Joel. Clare eventually drops out of college when she is not able to complete an essay on Nikolai Gogol. But her mother had completed college, and she was awarded her degree posthumously.
Years later, Clare is divorced from her husband when she meets Danny. Clare gets pregnant, but she tells Danny to not worry about it and just live his life as he wants it. Clare delivers her baby, whom she names after her mother, and Danny comes back, saying that he wants to build a life with them. Clare’s past continues to play a role in her present after she finds her life uprooted once again due to a few reckless actions.
In the present day, Clare has been evicted from her house by her husband because she gave her brother $15,000 out of their daughter’s college fund without consulting the family. Lucas needed the money to save their childhood home, and according to Clare, family always comes through for family. They are going to a couple’s therapist, Mel, and as their issues get resolved, it becomes more and more apparent that Clare’s past is greatly influencing her actions in the present. She regularly follows an online advice column headed by someone named Sugar. But when she discovers that Sugar is her old friend Sam, who has been fabricating a life to appeal more to the readers, Clare has trouble making sense of it. But Sam tells her that the life he has been fabricating would fit her perfectly, and he wants her to take over the mantle of Sugar. The job does not pay, and neither would she get credit since Sugar is an anonymous agony aunt, but Sam believed that Clare’s life and powerful writing were a good fit for the job. Though initially reluctant, Clare agrees to the job as Sam wears her down with the fan letters that Clare can’t help but connect to her own life.
In the meantime, Clare has unsuccessfully tried to sleep with an Uber driver after a very unhelpful session with her therapist. But that is not the worst of it. She has also been suspended from her job. Clare used to sleep in one of her patient’s rooms to keep her company and for herself, if she was being honest. But when some scratches were discovered on the patient’s legs, Clare was blamed for them. Actually, Clare was helping the patient take off her undergarments when this happened. When Danny asks her about it, Clare breaks down, saying how it’s all so unfair that she can’t live in her own house, and watching her, Danny asks her to come back.
Meanwhile, things aren’t good between Rae and Clare either. Rae is Clare’s daughter’s middle name, and she prefers to go by it. Also, Clare had caught her daughter almost trying to have a threesome, and she has been furious at her since. Clare even goes as far as to blame her daughter’s friend, Montana, whom she thinks is responsible for Rae’s actions. But Clare’s confrontation backfires, and her video is uploaded on Tik Tok, making Rae’s life even more difficult. Rae is furious and claims that she hates her mother and does not want to go to school. Though Clare and Danny initially resist her rebellion, Clare eventually tells Rae that she doesn’t have to go if she doesn’t want to. Clare tells her that she wants a lot for her daughter, but she can’t force her to want the same for herself. Hearing this, Rae sees some sense and decides to go to school. But this is not the last of the family’s conflicts.
When Clare finds out that Danny’s family knows about her meddling with the college fund, she is furious at him. She tells him that they have always given money to Danny’s family, as gifts nonetheless, but they have, and she should be able to give her brother money if she wants. We can see where Clare is coming from, but the point remains, as pointed out by Danny, that she did it without consulting him. Another subplot is regarding the couple’s problems with intimacy, which they eventually get through. But by the end of it, when they are going home, they meet the same cab driver Clare had been with a few months ago. Though nobody says anything, Danny suspects what could have happened.
There is also an arc about Clare going to a writer’s retreat with her best friend, Amy. When she gets over there, Clare realizes that she has not made any efforts to move ahead in her life, and she has blamed everyone except herself for it. She wants to stop doing that. But when she goes back home, Danny has already decided that he wants a divorce from her. He has read Sugar’s column, and though she was talking about moving on from things, he applied it to his own life and asked her for the divorce he has long wanted.
‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ Ending Explained: Does Clare Repair Her Relationship With Danny, Lucas, And Rae?
By this time, Rae has cut ties with Montana after realizing that she never treated her properly. As for the other developments, someone claiming to be Lucas’ friend had dropped off the $15,000 he owed Clare and Danny. Rae had been the only one in the house then, but she tells Clare and Danny later that it was Clare’s dad and not a friend of Lucas. Clare loses her mind, and she wants to meet her dad and Lucas instantly. She asks Rae to drive her even though she doesn’t have a license.
The mother-daughter duo set off, and Clare kept asking Rae what else the man had said to her. Rae says that he had said something along the lines of “family takes care of family.” Hearing this, Clare is horrified, and she takes a detour to the store to buy a shovel. Remember our criticism of Clare’s behavior in the introduction of this article? All that is happening here.
Once she gets the shovel, Rae and Clare go to their house and Clare starts digging up her mother’s ashes. That’s when her father and Lucas come out. We come to know that their father had protected their house from being foreclosed, and it now belongs to him. Clare is furious because the man has constantly abused Frankie. She remembers the details, though Lucas doesn’t. He has craved his father’s love all his life, and the semblance of it that he is getting now seems to be enough for him. He believes that their dad has changed and that his initial mistakes can be forgiven because their mother wasn’t “perfect” either. Honestly, only a man could think like this. Lucas says that it was Clare’s choice to look for him, and it isn’t right that she blames him for not being there by her mother’s side when she passed. We can agree with this part, but overall, we need a better picture of the family’s problems.
Clare leaves with her daughter, which is when Rae breaks down and admits that she had told Lucas about her college fund, which prompted him to ask for the loan. Rae had blamed herself for everything that had followed, and that was why she had been so distant. Clare assures her that it is not her fault and takes her to an open field, the same one her mother had taken her to when she was young. She witnesses the horses with her daughter, and this moment right here is the first step for them to mend their broken relationship. Not just that but Clare sees a vision of her mother on her hospital bed, as she had been all those years ago. The goodbye she couldn’t say then, she takes the chance to say now. After all these years, Clare is able to let go of her mother.
What Doesn’t Work For ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’?
To summarize the series, the plot moves fast and has irritating characters. We have criticized Clare and Rae enough, but we can’t ignore that Danny, Mel (the therapist), and Lucas are equally awful. Danny got really petty and evicted his own wife from a house she primarily paid the bills for. Mel was a bad therapist, and Lucas never learned to take care of himself. The one good part about “Tiny Beautiful Things” was Sugar’s essays. It is true that poetry can romanticize even the worst of people and situations. Sugar’s writings are truly stunning, but if not for them, we would advise you to skip this series for the sake of your own sanity.