“Expats’ show critique: Lulu Wang’s beautiful drama sometimes misinterpreted in translation”

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A Closer Look at the Series ‘Expats’

Building up her reputation as the queen of high-quality television dramas, Nicole Kidman stars in the series ‘Expats’. Kidman’s history of starring in blockbuster TV series such as ‘Big Little Lies’, ‘The Undoing’, and ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ has set her apart in the category of lavish adaptations where she portrays privileged women involved in captivating mysteries. The newest addition to her filmography is based on information from the source of Reader Wall.

The Plot of ‘Expats’

In ‘Expats’, Kidman takes on the role of Margaret, a woman caught in the middle of a sudden and tragic event in Hong Kong. The disappearance of her child results in shockwaves that significantly disrupts the lives of three American women and their families living in the city. The series follows their struggle to cope with life after the incident.

Behind The Scenes of ‘Expats’

‘Expats’, consisting of six episodes, was directed by ‘The Farewell’ filmmaker Lulu Wang. The series skillfully switches between various timelines that detail the lives, love affairs, and deceit of American expats living in Hong Kong in 2014. The narrative navigates through cultural clashes in the backdrop of political unrest during the Umbrella Movement protests.

Kidman’s character Margaret, along with her husband Clark, portrayed by Brian Tee, relocated to Hong Kong due to Clark’s high-income job. They now inhabit a luxurious apartment humorously named The Peak. Despite longing for her homeland, Margaret enjoys the luxuries of their lifestyle as an expatriate, which includes the employment of a full-time nanny to assist with the children.

A Glimpse at Other Key Characters

  • Margaret’s youngest son Gus goes missing, leading to a dreadful chain of events that cause Margaret to spiral out of control and her family to struggle to hold it all together.
  • Mercy, a recent Columbia graduate navigating life in Hong Kong, is caught in the web of the tragedy. Presented by Ji-young Yoo in her first significant role, Mercy is portrayed as a young woman grappling with her internal struggles amidst a series of self-destructive decisions.
  • Secondary character Sarayu Blue shines as the Indian-American Hilary. Trapped in a failing marriage and facing the societal pressure of becoming a mother, Hilary attempts to suppress her mid-life crisis with extravagant purchases and social gatherings. This does nothing to mend her damaged relationship with Margaret after Gus’s disappearance.
  • Based on the novel by Janice Y.K. Lee, ‘Expats’ follows these interconnected narratives, offering a rich exploration of themes revolving around social class, race, and grief. Applauded for her approach, director Lulu Wang guides audiences through the complex journeys of these characters as they strive to make sense of their harsh realities.

    Critical Aspect of the Series

    While Kidman’s leading role brings a familiar sense of gravitas to the story, a sense of repetition occasionally disrupts the narrative flow. The intertwined storylines often deviate from the primary plot, leading to a semi-convoluted resolution that probably would not satisfy every viewer. The issue of sluggish pacing, although purposeful on the director’s part, too, misses the mark at times.

    Nevertheless, ‘Expats’ occasionally elicits captivating viewing moments, particularly in the fifth episode of the series directed by Wang. The narrative shifts focus from the expatriates to examine the lives of their domestic helpers. Amid the backdrop of political unrest and torrential rains in Hong Kong, viewers gain insight into their ambitions, fears, and contentment.

    The series offers an exquisite and at times riveting portrayal of these different lives adrift from their homeland. ‘Expats’ is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime.


    Sonny, a prolific Bollywood author, weaves enchanting tales that mirror the vibrant tapestry of Indian cinema. With an innate ability to capture the essence of Bollywood glamour and drama, Sonny's literary creations transport readers into the heart of the film industry. Immerse yourself in the magic of Bollywood through Sonny's evocative storytelling on ReaderWall.