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Three Little Birds

Three Little Birds season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:26-31

That’s how Jamaica native Hosanna might put it. Or, if she had lived a couple of decades later, she might’ve quoted her countryman Bob Marley: “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”

But Hosanna, along with sisters Leah and Chantrelle, don’t always feel like every little thing is turning out for the better. The trio left Jamaica on a boat for 1950s England, hoping to start a new life in the old world.

Hosanna’s taking a big risk: The God-fearing woman is sailing to meet Leah and Chantrelle’s brother, Aston, in order to determine whether she’d like to marry him. Meanwhile, Chantrelle’s dreams of making it big as a movie star are humbled when her supposed temporary job as a nanny places her under the household of a white family who isn’t too pleased with her skin color.

And Leah has her own reasons for leaving Jamaica: It was the only way for her to escape her abusive husband. And, as much as it pains her, she’ll need to spend some time working long hours in order to afford to bring her children over with her.

When their boat docks in England, the three find that the weather is only marginally colder than the welcome they receive. Signs and graffiti demand that dark-skinned foreigners and Irish people alike go back home. They’re not wanted here—and some are willing to put more than just words behind their insults.

But as much as these three little birds feel more like the sparrows in Matthew 10 than the valued humans, and as much as they might want to retaliate or turn and run, they don’t. Instead, the trio resolves to press on, determined to make a life worth living—believing that, at the end of the day, every little thing will be alright.

A Few Ruffled Feathers

Three Little Birds focuses us on three members of Windrush generation—the name given to immigrants who were born in Commonwealth countries and arrived in the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971. (Jamaica was a Crown colony until it was granted independence in 1962.) And in this series, we follow three female immigrants as they struggle against the racism they face after sailing across the Atlantic to start a new life in England.

But this story is one that has more to show, too. Hosanna, a devout Christian, struggles to find community even among believers in England, as her emphatic Pentecostal upbringing clashes with the more traditional Anglican services. Chantrelle, meanwhile, deals with a family who doesn’t really want her there—not to mention the father of that family who forcefully attempts to make her his mistress. Issues with money, violent loan sharks and domestic abuse likewise try to bring these three birds down.

Viewers will want to note that while the series has some Christian elements within it (mostly through the fervent Hosanna’s convictions), it also has a bit of violence and suggestive sexual comments. Racial issues are obviously a critical part of the story (though the show certainly doesn’t condone the attitudes we see). Some lighter language is present, too. And while nothing is officially confirmed in the story, Chantrelle’s (as of now) friendly relationship with a fellow female nanny has moments that may ultimately build into a more romantic relationship. 

To give it credit, the series is a lot more restrained than other shows we’ve reviewed. Sex is referenced rather than seen, and while violent moments can be intense, such moments are not nearly as graphic as they could have been. But the Christian elements present shouldn’t lull viewers into thinking that these content issues aren’t there, either.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 22, 2023 – S1, E1: “Episode #1.1”

Leah, Hosanna and Chantrelle depart Jamaica to start a new life in 1950s Great Britain—but both the welcome and weather they find is colder than they expected.

The women sing “This Little Light of Mine,” and we later hear them reading Leviticus 14. After the ship arrives in England, Hosanna prays thanks to God for protecting them on the voyage. Hosanna also prays the Lord’s prayer, taught to her by her father. And when the women attend a party, Hosanna quotes Galatians 5’s warnings against the works of the flesh to the partygoers. Meanwhile, Aston (whom Hosanna is considering marrying) admits to Hosanna that he hasn’t worshipped much since he moved to England, since “English church is kind of miserable.”

Chantrelle flirts with a couple men: “He wanted to dip his spoon in my sugar bowl,” she tells her friends at one point. “I tell him the café was closed.” And later, she dances closely with a man who works as a baker. They kiss, and he wraps his arms around her. “Careful with those hips,” Chantrelle warns, “I don’t need no bun in my oven.” Later, Chantrelle lifts up her dress, exposing a bit of undergarment. Chantrelle passionately kisses another man. We hear a reference to prostitution. A man grabs a woman’s rear through her dress.

On the flip side, Hosanna gets upset when she believes she’ll have to share a room with a man, calling it sinful behavior. Later, a man flirts with Hosanna by quoting Song of Solomon with her. The man claims to “own a piece” of Hosanna, since he helped pay for her voyage.

It is revealed that Aston brought Leah to England because her husband was abusing her. Leah’s husband, Ephraim, punches her in the stomach and smacks her in the face. Later, Leah kicks and smacks Ephraim when he falls unconscious due to a concoction she creates.. A man is punched. Police break up a party, pushing people and arresting a few.

Racism is prevalent throughout the series, and the first episode is no exception. An apartment has a sign which states “no Irish, no Blacks, no dogs.” Graffiti calls for dark-skinned foreigners to leave the country. A young boy is concerned that Chantrelle is going to be their nanny because of her darker skin, and the boy’s family treats Chantrelle and her friends poorly because of their skin color.

Men smoke and drink alcohol. When Leah finds Hosanna preaching against a party, she says that “even Jesus turned water into wine so people could enjoy themselves. If He was here, He’d tell you to relax.” In a flashback, Leah purchases tranquilizer and pours it in Ephraim’s rum, knocking him out when he drinks it.

We hear “h—” twice and “b–ch” once. We also hear words like “p-ss” and “slut,” as well as the British crudity “bloody.” God’s name is used in vain once, and Jesus’ name is also used in vain once. Furthermore, we hear some racist slang thrown out such as “darkie” and “wog.”

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kennedy-unthank
Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”

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