Eight episodes and as many fragments of the United States through portraits of immigrants: the series “Little America” returns to Apple TV+ on Friday for its second season with the desire to question the “American dream”, explains to AFP one of its creators and producers, Sian Heder.
From the Song family and their hat shop workshop in Detroit to Jibril, a Somali chef from Minneapolis – inspired by chef Jamal Hashi – and his delicious camel meat skewers, this “American dream” and his ideal fantasy of success on the job and perseverance still appear in the slices of life that each episode unfolds in less than 40 minutes.
But the price to be paid in terms of upheaval, material difficulties, family pressure to succeed and sometimes the simple disappointment of finding New York artificial and vain emerges over the episodes, inspired by true stories. Like the one where Zahir, an Afghan pianist who arrived in New York to escape the Taliban, ends up enrolling in the conservatory, but far from his mother, who stayed in the country.
“One of the themes that we really wanted to explore was + what happens when the American dream doesn’t work out as expected? +”, explains Sian Heder, one of the creators of the series, in which the Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani especially player.
– “Pressure” –
For the director of “CODA”, the American version of “The Aries Family”, which won the Oscars in 2022, it is a matter of showing that “the very idea of America, which consists of saying + smoke sleeves up + , capitalism, and + it’s up to you to make it work + it puts incredible pressure on people”.
“It’s the land of opportunity, but there aren’t many safety nets in this country to catch you if you don’t make it,” she adds.
After a first season released in early 2020, during Donald Trump’s tenure, where “we felt we had to be very optimistic and positive”, this time there is “probably more freedom to explore the nuances and (complexities) of this , what does the American dream mean?
The series is adapted from portraits of immigrants outlined by Epic Magazine. Some don’t lack humor or lightness, like this episode in which a Sri Lankan immigrant to Texas participates in a “car kissing contest” where whoever is glued to the body the longest wins the car. Other episodes are rejected in a podcast.
“What we look for in our profession, (these) are, in a way, very ordinary people,” sums up Sian Heder.
Neither heroes nor victims, all the characters do not meet the same success, but manage to create a place for themselves and add their stones to the diversity of the United States, “such a melting pot”.
This cultural mosaic is found in the actors’ dialogues, often in the original language, and in certain details such as the dishes on the dining table. Each episode ends with an epilogue where we discover the real character that inspired the story.
“I think through our commitment to trying to represent their real experience, you get a much more accurate portrayal of what it’s like to live here,” adds Sian Heder.