Where and When Does Tiny Beautiful Things Take Place?

Hulu’s ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ is a drama series that follows the story of 49-year-old Clare Pierce, who writes an advice column in an online magazine. Before this writing opportunity comes around, Clare struggles with her personal and professional life. Her marriage is on the brink of completely breaking apart, and her relationship with her daughter also deteriorates quickly.

Clare already feels that she has wasted her potential to be an accomplished writer and spends her days in a care home where her empathy is perceived as infringing on the personal space of the residents. Alongside this, we meet a younger Clare and the events that transpired in her life to set her on the path she treads now. The two timelines merge, distinguished by their setting, which gives a deeper meaning to the story. SPOILERS AHEAD

Tiny Beautiful Things Simultaneously Follows Young and Adult Clare


The events in ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ unfold over two timelines. One follows the life of adult Clare, while the other begins in her teenage years. The novel on which the show is based was published in 2012. However, several things in the show suggest it is set in 2023. The presence of social media and how closely it links to the lives of Rae and her friends shows that the show keeps its story rooted in contemporary times.

The other half of the story depicts Clare’s teenage years, focusing on the time she spent with her mother, Frances. This story begins in the late 80s to early 90s when Clare has secured a place at the university. The story in the past doesn’t take place chronologically and alternates back and forth a lot. The part with Clare’s mother, Clare going to college, discovering her mother’s illness to her death takes place before 1995.

This was the year Clare was supposed to graduate with her mother, who had enrolled with her. In the end, Clare is unable to get the grades to get her diploma, while her mother is awarded one posthumously. Clare is in her early 20s during this time and is already married. It is revealed that she regretted having married so early as soon as it happened, leading her to indulge in affairs while dealing with her grief.

The show doesn’t focus on the end of Clare’s first marriage or how things ended between her and her first husband. It takes a leap of around ten years in an early episode, focusing on the events surrounding the birth of her daughter and her marriage to Danny. This bookends the time period of the flashbacks and happens sometime in the early 2000s. The events in the present take place over the course of almost a year as Clare crosses over to her 50th year.

Tiny Beautiful Things Setting Reflects Changes in Clare’s Life


The story of ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ takes place in the past and the present, presenting the contrast between her two lives. While the show clearly presents the story’s timeline, it remains a little vague about the location. For the filming of the series, the crew headed to Los Angeles, California. However, Cheryl Strayed, whose life serves as the inspiration for the show, lives in another state.

Comparing Clare’s story with Strayed, we can say that Clare’s teenage and young adult years take place in Minnesota. This is where she spends most of her childhood with her mother and later goes to college. She returns to the place years later, as an adult, to discover some shocking truths. In her adult years, Strayed moved to Oregon, where she has remained ever since with her family. In the show, we see that Clare has moved away from her hometown and lives quite some distance from it. We can assume that she has moved to Oregon, too, where she is trying to keep her family together.

Read More: Is Tiny Beautiful Things’ Claire Pierce Based on a Real Advice Columnist?