“Expats” TV with Nicole Kidman: womanhood, classism and grief

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New series with Nicole Kidman paints a story of tragic chid loss played out in an elite community of Western expats in Hong Kong.

“Expats”, now streaming on Amazon Prime, draws inspiration from the novel ‘The Expatriates’ by Janice Y.K. Lee. Led by Chinese-born American director Lulu Wang, ‘Expats’ captures the essence of expatriate life through Margaret’s (Nicole Kidman) story. A former landscape architect, she swapped her career for a posh and comfortable life, with maid and personal chauffeur, when her husband got a transfer from New York and moves the family overseas. Their life looks like a paradise until one tragic day, when their little son disappears at a crowded night market while in the care of Mercy (Ji-young Yoo), a young Columbia postgrad whom Margaret was thinking of hiring as a nanny.

Through the lives of Margaret and her husband Clarke, their helpers, and friends, ‘Expats’ delves into the unseen, the whispered conversations and secrets of high society of expats. While Margaret’s trauma over her missing son Gus foregrounds her journey, the series intricately unfurls the lives of others entangled in this drama — the Filipino housekeeper Essie and young Korean American Mercy, struggling to survive in Hong Kong. 

Wang explores motherhood, grief and guilt, class and privilege in “Expats”,  showcasing Hong Kong landmarks, from the night markets to the luxe hotels. There are three Hong Kong actors in ‘Expats’ cast: Will Or, Bonde Sham and Flora Chan. The series also doesn’t shy away from sensitive socio-political commentary (e.g. the Umbrella Revolution of 2014).

Episodes 1 & 2 are online on Amazon Prime. New episodes released weekly.