Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Lessons in Chemistry: Brie Larson’s Magnum Opus?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

Lessons in Chemistry could pan out to be a highlight of Larson’s career.

As her face isn’t revealed until the end of the minute-long continuous shot to begin the series, Brie Larson’s Elizabeth Zott commands the studio and keeps her eccentricity and poise at the forefront of her character. Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name, Lessons in Chemistry explores Zott’s career as a science-turned-talk show host during the 1950s. 

Brie Larson, known for her role as Captain Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and her Oscar-winning performance in 2015’s Room, has been subject to a whirlwind of misogynistic criticism via the web. Her 2019 film, Captain Marvel, was review-bombed on Rotten Tomatoes upon its release in 2019. After calling for more diversity in film criticism, Larson was called ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ for saying that individuals who aren’t white men should be given places at the table. An X post from 2020 reads, “Since this hot garbage [Captain Marvel ad] showed up on my feed featuring Brie Larson, sexist racist bigot queen of Social Justice Warriors, I’ll just leave this [deleted YouTube video] here.” This post is just one of thousands of that exact nature.

Elizabeth Zott’s very nature is to be the foil of online incels. When I read Bonnie Garmus’s novel in the fall of 2022, I fancasted Brie Larson in this role because it suited her well. I’ve been a fan of Larson since around 2018, right when she entered the Marvel universe, and I saw these things happen to her in real-time. To its very core, Lessons in Chemistry has ‘Brie Larson’ written all over it.

Gender discrimination, grief, and love are major themes of the novel and will presumably be carried over into the Apple TV+ miniseries. Larson, supported by Lewis Pullman’s character Calvin Evans, perfectly conveys the feeling of slowly falling in love in the first episode I was able to watch. Larson’s nuance as a socially awkward yet passionate genius makes her relationship with Pullman’s Calvin all the more believable and heart-swelling. There were plenty of moments in this episode where I laughed out loud, cooed at the blossoming romance, and worried at what’s to come.

The series switches from flashback to present without being too disruptive or jarring. The episode’s bookends are sequences taking place in 1958 that fit perfectly with the midsection, set in 1951. The fashion featured is stunning and something that I would wear myself. The clothing demonstrates Elizabeth’s transformation into her own confident woman perfectly; for example, in 1951, she primarily wears muted skirts and dresses with minimal makeup, and in 1958, she switches to bright-colored pants and makeup. Her confidence is palpable in the flash-forward sections, which makes the end of the episode all the more impactful (no spoilers!).

I would recommend Lessons in Chemistry to almost all audiences; it has appeal for everyone. Scientists who get the jokes, women who don’t, but love the message, and men who are willing to learn. This series is Brie Larson’s answer to the hate she has gotten, and she answers it with grace, poise, and assertiveness. Brie Larson is a force to be reckoned with.

The first two episodes of Lessons in Chemistry are available on Apple TV+, with new episodes weekly.

Jessika Landon is a third-year Emerson College student pursuing a major in Media Arts Production and a minor in Marketing Communication. She loves talking and writing about the media she loves and is a major advocate for self-love, mental health, and more.