“Little Voice” premieres Friday, July 10 on Apple TV Plus. She’s undeniably talented but after an unfortunate performance, she needs time to regain her confidence and allow her original songs to be heard by more than her super well-behaved – and adorable – dog. Bess is kind and anxious, a combination that often results in her taking on too many of everyone else’s problems. Any of her scenes with the great Cooper, a Tony winner for The Life, have added authenticity, and she has beats of real sweetness with Valdez, an autistic actor whose frequently effective presence here shows that Nelson has learned some things since I Am Sam. And then there’s Ethan… Ethan (Sean Teale) also works out of a storage unit and is artistically inclined. Most every moment, in fact, comes with a musical accompaniment, whether through one of Bess’ songs or one of the many musicians dotting what sometimes seems like every New York City. As she explains in the first episode of “Little Voice” with a half-apologetic shrug, her music is “very…earnest.” At another point, forced to put herself in terms the music industry might understand, she describes her work — written for the show by co-creator Sara Bareilles — as “Alessia Cara meets Carole King.” And yet, it’s the “earnest” note that sticks, defining her and “Little Voice” both. 6:45 AM PDT 7/7/2020 by Daniel Fienberg ... Little Voice is a good New York show… In the first of nine half-hour episodes, our songbird heroine ponders, "Compared to what everybody's listening to, I think my stuff seems, I dunno, earnest?". The title track sounds like it was an outtake from a Sara Bareilles album. They say write what you know. Little Voice features existing songs Sara Bareilles wrote over the past few decades as well as new songs penned expressly for the series (including the gorgeous and mesmerizing “Ghost Light.”) The titular song was actually written when Bareilles was in her 20s and, in a fortuitous twist of fate, did not make it onto her first album as she had intended but instead fit snugly here. Bareilles co-created the series with her Waitress collaborator Jessie Nelson and her songs drive the narrative of this New York-based story that’s appeal reaches far beyond existing Bareilles fans. Terms of Use | Variety and the Flying V logos are trademarks of Variety Media, LLC. For a World-Class City, New York Is Shockingly Dirty. Bess is kind and anxious, a combination that often results in her taking on too many of everyone else’s problems. The Hollywood Reporter, LLC is a subsidiary of Prometheus Global Media, LLC. © Copyright 2020 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. The scenes with Louie and his transitional home group of neurodiverse friends blend comedy and sentiment and, like everything else here, the manipulation factor is high. Venice Film Festival What to Watch Now Movie Reviews TV Reviews Roundtables Podcasts 'Little Voice': TV Review. Budding songwriter Bess is brimming over with talent and feelings she can only truly express in song. And in the role of Bess’ best friend and roommate, Prisha, Shalini Bathina makes the most of her character’s journey to self-acceptance that, while unresolved by season’s end, has more than enough pathos in it to hold over to a second season. It's very, very earnest and sometimes very, very clunky. I only sometimes did. Privacy | It's here that I point to seemingly unlikely Little Voice executive producer J.J. Abrams, whose Felicity work shows a more balanced blend of mawkish and mocking, plus a love triangle that justifiably had people invested. FACEBOOK In between scribbling lyrics on whatever scrap of paper she can get, she’s too busy running around the city tending to the needs of her musician father (Chuck Cooper), Broadway obsessive brother (Kevin Valdez) and handful of scattered odd jobs. It's easy! Together, Ethan and Samuel combine to be barely one-dimensional, and the show seems only limitedly conscious of the fact that one comes across as an utter cad and the other as a creepy stalker. And here we are,” recalled Bareilles in an interview with Variety. Cast: Brittany O'Grady, Sean Teale, Colton Ryan, Shalini Bathina, Kevin Valdez, Phillip Johnson Richardson and Chuck Cooper, Creators: Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson. Your tears may vary. I remembered this song and sent it to her to see if there was anything that resonated about our show. Little Voice centers around Bess (Brittany O’Grady), a struggling singer-songwriter who’s set up shop in a storage unit away from prying eyes and eavesdropping ears. Music doesn’t pay the bills and so she tends bar and works as a dog-walker to make ends meet. Sitemap | Ask questions and download or stream the entire soundtrack on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, & Amazon. All rights reserved. Samuel (Colton Ryan) is a new member of Team Bess, a handsome and talented guitar player who challenges Bess and urges her to trust in herself. Little Voice is sweet, genuine, and hopeful. But with nine episodes running a half-hour each, the show is generally smart about how much it leans into its sentimentality, which ultimately befits its unabashedly enthusiastic characters. It isn't as natural and thrilling an evocation of pre-COVID NYC as HBO's Betty, but it has resonance. Bess has a Broadway-obsessed brother (Kevin Valdez) who's on the autism spectrum and requires her constant care; an alcoholic father (Chuck Cooper); and a roommate (Shalini Bathina) chafing under pressure from her Indian parents to find a husband. O’Grady also has terrific chemistry with all members of Team Bess, but in particular with Sean Teale as Bess and Ethan gauge each other’s worth. is, somewhat paradoxically, a modern update of a throwback, hearkening to a time when TV was rife with earnest dramedies about talented young women trying to protect their bleeding hearts (see:  executive producer J.J. Abrams’ “Felicity,” for one). Pandemic Shifts the Map During College Football’s Roller Coaster Season: Data Viz, Add Privacy and a New Design Element To Your Space With a Barn Door Kit. Samuel’s decent, earnest, and a good match musically. That Bess is genuinely talented takes a huge burden of proof off the show. About Our Ads So even if you accept that Little Voice is Bess' story and her romantic interests are near-parodies of the kind of paper-thin roles women have been shunted into for centuries, buying this as a love story may be beyond your capacity. Episodes premiere Fridays on Apple TV+ starting July 10. © 2020 The Hollywood Reporter I also can't deny that the show left me humming several tunes and that, in at least one moment, it induced blubbering. Those caught up in its earnestness will forgive the clunkiness. So much of “Little Voice” depends on people falling for Bess (at least three men do over the course of the first season), or at the very least, believing in her so much that they drop just about everything to help her achieve her dreams. TV 'Little Voice' Stars on the Finale, State of the Love Triangle and Season 2 (Exclusive) ... "It's so hard as a musician to show someone your soul and it's a very delicate balance. Take Our Poll If … A struggling filmmaker in a relationship that’s on its last legs, Ethan ignites a passion in Bess that helps restore her self-confidence. It's much easier to accept the musicality of Little Voice because, with Bareilles as co-creator and writer of its many songs, Bess is wholly convincing as a commercial artist in the Bareilles vein, making it confusing when various A&R people don't know how to describe her sound.