TV & Movies

The Lessons In Chemistry Book Has A Sweet Twist Ending

Prepare for all the emotions.

Brie Larson in 'Lessons in Chemistry,' whose plot summary and ending is bittersweet.
Apple TV+

Much of the hype around Apple TV+’s Lessons in Chemistry comes from the star power in front of and behind the camera. In addition to Brie Larson starring as chemist Elizabeth Zott, Lee Eisenberg (co-creator of Jury Duty) and Susannah Grant (writer of Oscar-winner Erin Brockovich) serve as showrunner and executive producer, respectively.

That experience is ideal for this project since Lessons in Chemistry is based on a book that will definitely make you laugh and cry.

Bonnie Garmus’ bestselling debut novel, which hit bookstores last year, quickly became a critical and commercial success. Barnes & Noble even named it 2022’s Book of the Year.

If the show’s Oct. 13 premiere has you desperate to know what happens next, here’s a quick summary of Lessons in Chemistry.

Meet Miss Zott

In 1952, Elizabeth is a chemistry master’s candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles, hoping to pursue her doctorate there. However, she’s sexually assaulted by a researcher and forced to leave the school, after which she finds work at Hastings Research Institute.

There, she meets fellow chemist Calvin Evans, and while they don’t get off on the right foot, they go from enemies to lovers pretty quickly. Elizabeth and Calvin bond over shared family trauma: Calvin grew up in an orphanage, while Elizabeth’s parents are effectively dead to her.

Apple TV+

They decide to start a new life together, flouting the era’s social norms by living together without getting married, per Elizabeth’s wishes. They also become pup parents to a dog named Six-Thirty — named for the time of day Elizabeth brought him into their home off the street.

Tragedy Strikes

Calvin dies in an accident while running with Six-Thirty one morning, after which Elizabeth finds out that she’s pregnant. She is subsequently fired from Hastings for being an unwed mother-to-be and decides to turn her kitchen into a home laboratory in order to make money as a freelance chemist.

Elizabeth is briefly welcomed to return to Hastings when her daughter, Madeline, starts kindergarten. However, the real reason she’s rehired is so that her boss can pass off her work as his. She leaves again, this time on her own terms.

Cooking Up Something New

Fortunately, the father of one of Madeline’s classmates offers Elizabeth a new opportunity: hosting an afternoon cooking show called Supper at Six. Elizabeth pushes the boundaries on the show, like when she decries a potential sponsor’s canned soup or shares that she doesn’t believe in God. But she also becomes an influential voice for her viewers and attracts major media buzz.

Apple TV+

After giving a reluctant interview to Life, the magazine twists Elizabeth’s life story into a reductive, salacious article. The experience prompts her to leave the show and return to chemistry.

This is when a surprising benefactor steps forward, the Parker Foundation. They want to fund Elizabeth’s research into abiogenesis and make her the head of chemistry at Hastings after ousting her former boss. But why?

A Sweet Ending

As it turns out, Avery Parker is Calvin’s biological mother. She gave birth at a home for teen mothers and was told he’d died, only to learn years later that wasn’t true. Madeline’s class project about family trees led her to find out about the Parker Foundation and, in return, Avery learned about her son’s family.

The twist of events doesn’t just allow Elizabeth to continue her chemistry research, but also connects her with a mother/grandmother figure — and a connection to her late partner — she never knew existed.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit