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The Small Town Drama Hidden Gem You Can Find On Netflix

Some of the most moving stories in entertainment history have zoomed in on small town life, as a way to highlight heavy topics or pertinent social issues. From television shows like "Friday Night Lights" to films like "The Hate U Give," these stories use realistic characters and situations to address many of these issues head-on, as seen through through the eyes of a few people in a more intimate setting. One particular example of this is an independent film from 2016 starring Nelsan Ellis, who you may recognize from his time portraying Lafayette Reynolds in the series "True Blood," as well as Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels' 2013 movie "The Butler."

That film is "Little Boxes," a movie which addresses racism in America from the viewpoint of an interracial family. "Little Boxes" also managed to land actress Melanie Lynskey to co-star alongside Ellis — you may have seen Lynskey in plenty of films and shows over the 2000s, starring alongside George Clooney in 2009's "Up in the Air," and most recently, the television series "Lady of the Manor." And it's the performances of Ellis, Lynskey, and up-and-coming actor Armani Jackson that truly make "Little Boxes" a must-watch, as it takes a small approach to covering a massive topic.

Little Boxes examines racism in America

"Little Boxes" follows the young couple of Mack (Nelsan Ellis) and Gina (Melanie Lynskey) along with their son, Clark (Armani Jackson) as they make a big move across the United States from Brooklyn to the small town of Rome, Washington. 

Mack and Gina are an interracial couple, which leads to challenges in the predominantly white town they've taken up residence in, as the whole family must deal with the attitudes, apprehensions, and racist microaggressions of those around them. As an adolescent moving to a new school, Clark just wants to be cool and fit in, only to find that the kids in Rome think it's cooler if Clark acts "more Black" rather than just be himself. Gina, meanwhile, receives judgement and snide remarks from other moms in the neighborhood, while Mack deals with his own struggles as the white dads try to connect with him without being racist.

The film takes the approach of being a dramedy, with comedic moments anchored by more serious and emotional ones that address the social issues which are at the heart of the whole thing. "Little Boxes," which was directed by Rob Meyer and written by Annie Howell, was nominated for five awards (per IMDb), along with being an official selection at major film festivals such as Tribeca, where it had its world premiere. If you're looking for a break from the same pattern of Netflix shows and movies, "Little Boxes" is definitely a heartfelt hidden gem that's worth checking out.