Lessons in Chemistry season 1 review: Heartfelt drama lacks novelty

Lessons in Chemistry follows a woman, Elizabeth Zott, who wishes to be a scientist in the 1950s, a time when patriarchal society made it extremely difficult for women to reject rigid gender roles. All episodes are now streaming on Apple TV+.


Elizabeth Zott is a lab assistant at Hastings. She is a chemist, and she is smarter than most of the scientists there, but because she is a woman, she has to work under them and tolerate sexism.

As Elizabeth wishes to be a scientist, she makes use of the lab and the equipment after hours to work on her research. One day, she breaks into the lab of a renowned scientist, Calvin Evans, to steal the material that she needs for her research.

Calvin is just as odd as Elizabeth, but he is also a genius who has made a name for himself. Once he realizes how smart Elizabeth is, he starts working with her. Soon after, Calvin and Elizabeth fall in love and start dating.

Elizabeth and Calvin think that their work is groundbreaking. However, seven years later, Elizabeth becomes a TV show host, not a scientist. What happened to Elizabeth that made her change her career plans?


Brie Larson plays Elizabeth with such dedication and earnestness that the audience will be convinced that Larson is not playing a part because she is Elizabeth. Larson makes the audience feel for Elizabeth and is able to hold their attention.

Lewis Pullman comes across as the perfect partner for Elizabeth. He is charming in his own way, which makes it very easy to become attached to his character in the first two episodes.

Aja Naomi King, who plays Harriet, is powerful, confident, and likable. The actor exudes certainty, and that makes one want to pay attention to her words, which carry a lot of weight. 

Then there is Alice Halsey, who leaves no opportunity to showcase her talents as an actor. Halsey’s Madeline is amusing as well as wise beyond her years. The actor’s portrayal will make the audience crack a smile.


The show focuses on the hurdles that Elizabeth has to overcome in order to realize her dream. It is the story of an ambitious woman’s fight against a society that has no place for her. Elizabeth’s authentic and moving struggle makes the audience root for her. 

Elizabeth and Harriet’s conversations often call attention to important topics like intersectional feminism. The scene that sees the two women discuss how maternal love is not instinctual also marks the beginning of a meaningful friendship that will get the audience interested.

Through Harriet’s subplot, the show seeks to highlight the different ways in which racial discrimination is practiced. Harriet’s story does not have a happy ending, which further emphasizes how difficult it is to fight discrimination that is deeply rooted in society.

Some scenes make Lessons in Chemistry an inspiring show. One cannot help but admire the protagonist whenever she refuses to go against her beliefs or whenever she encourages other women to rise above their condition.

The show’s sets and costumes capture the spirit of the 1950s. Additionally, thanks to the makeup and costumes, there is a noticeable difference in the actors’ appearances whenever there is a time jump. 


The show tries to paint a realistic picture of the 1950s, but it does not succeed entirely due to a lack of gray characters. All the characters, including Elizabeth, are either too good or too bad, which makes them seem fictitious.

The story is not told in a linear fashion. By the time Elizabeth and Calvin’s backstories are shown, the characters have already moved on in their lives. Due to this, their backstories do not have the impact that they would have had if they had been shown sooner.

Furthermore, the show lacks vitality, as it fails to offer anything unique. The audience keeps waiting for something that will make the show stand out, but that never happens. Perhaps that is why the last episode leaves them with a sense of unfulfillment.  


Lessons in Chemistry is a heartfelt journey of a woman who refuses to be held back because of her gender. With great performances, the show will keep the audience invested, but it is not without its flaws. 

Lessons in Chemistry season 1
Lessons in Chemistry season 1 review: Heartfelt drama lacks novelty 1

Director: Sarah Adina Smith, Bert & Bertie, Millicent Shelton, and Tara Miele

Date Created: 2023-11-22 17:36

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: Lessons in Chemistry season 1 finale recap, review & ending explained

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