In the newest AppleTV+ venture, the titular little voice belongs to Bess King (Brittany O’Grady), a singer-songwriter whose self-described earnestness and lack of stage presence make it difficult for her music career to take off… until it does.
Sounds a little cute? What if I told you that to make ends meet Bess steeps herself thoroughly in the gig life? Because what’s cuter than a 20-something who walks dogs and sings standards to the elderly?
Need another push? Her “music studio” is a tricked-out storage unit complete with a boho flair of tapestry and string lights. Oh, and in said storage unit she meet-cutes an amateur videographer (director? Cinematographer? Who cares, he’s adorable.) and you better believe he already has a girlfriend. Don’t worry, there’s also a dreamy guitarist with whom Bess connects beautifully. Mmm… conflict!
Yes, Little Voice has many trappings of a romcom of 90s days gone by and finds much success leaning into them, but don’t mistake its sweetness for saccharine; it’s careful not to get too precious. Bess is very likeable with perhaps too few faults – save for some unhealthy coping mechanisms and a mildly annoying stubborn streak – but the show frequently cuts its cute with real feelings of self-doubt, self-destruction, and general hopelessness. Bess has found herself as the backbone of a splintered family, and she often struggles to balance that emotional labor while actively seeking her dream. Her little wins like winning real studio time in a songwriting contest or playing to a tiny room without making a fool out of herself feel like major triumphs. It’s a show that doesn’t need to earn your empathy. You’re ready to give it away.
Little Voice is so confident in its execution that it will charm the cynical right out of your sensibilities. Its editing is whimsical and airy. Its inclusivity is effortless. It even dares to get a little postmodern with its moving and conceptual seventh episode. And why not? Why not root for the young woman trying to take New York City by storm, back when that was possible? Little Voice is likely one of the last major projects to have filmed in the city prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and all the people and action and movement might break your heart a little. If there’s ever a time to give in to cuteness, it’s now. Little Voice is the sweet, hopeful antidote to our current moment.