First published 1979, science fiction author Octavia Butler‘s best-selling novel relationship Defying conventional genres, it features classic time travel tropes, antebellum South slave tales and historical fiction. Butler himself described it as “a kind of dark fantasy”. More than 40 years later, relationship is now an eight-episode TV miniseries, come to Hulu next month, and we now have our first look via a 90-second teaser.
(Spoilers for the 1979 novel below.)
Butler’s novel is told from the first-person perspective of a young black author named Dana who moves to Los Angeles in 1976 with her husband Kevin. On her 26th birthday, Dana suddenly feels dizzy and the walls of her LA home fade. Finding herself at the edge of a forest near a river, she promptly rescues a young, red-haired boy named Rufus Weylin. Another bout of vertigo quickly snaps her back to her present, but the attacks keep coming and soon Dana is regularly being transported back and forth for varying lengths of time. (In the past, time flies faster, which complicates things even more.) She quickly learns that she must make certain compromises and endure atrocities in order to navigate the antebellum South. Eventually, Kevin is transported back in time and must learn to navigate the antebellum South as a white man.
While no reason or mechanism is ever offered for Dana’s time travel, we eventually learn that there is a historical connection: young Rufus is in fact Dana’s ancestor. Her journeys into the past come first whenever the accident-prone boy needs to be rescued – and Dana, understandably invested in preserving her family lineage and future existence, repeatedly saves his life. But the older Rufus gets, the more complicated things get. He succeeds his father as lord of the plantation and eventually rapes his childhood friend Alice (born free but later sold into slavery as punishment) and forces her to become his concubine. One of their children is Dana’s ancestor Hagar.
relationship sold over 1 million copies upon release; A complex, multi-themed novel, it is arguably Butler’s most influential and celebrated work. There was a graphic novel adaptation back in 2017, but for some reason it was never adapted for film or TV — until now. FX ordered and selected a pilot for the miniseries last July relationship until for a full series in January. According to the official logline, “As Dana, a young black woman and aspiring writer, begins to settle into her new home, she is pulled back and forth in time, plunging through her blood on a 19th-century plantation.”
Newcomer Mallori Johnson (We crashed) plays Dana with Micah Stock (Deke Slayton in The right stuff series) as Kevin. Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) plays Thomas Weylin; Gayle Rankin (Sheila the Wolf in glow) plays his wife Margaret Weylin; and David Alexander Kaplan (“12” in stranger things S4) plays young Rufus. It looks like FX/Hulu is sticking with late 1970’s Los Angeles for Dana and Kevin’s “present day” existence.
I read again relationship every few years or so, and I’m generally pretty open to taking some creative liberties when adapting novels for television. But to be honest, I’m not too keen on this teaser, which makes the series look like straight-ahead time-travel horror like they’re making it American Horror Story: Antebellum. Granted, there are terrifying elements in Butler’s novel (although she deliberately toned down the gruesome violence contained in the historical record she studied to attract more readers). But it’s far from a horror novel, so it’s… a Interesting Approach for the first teaser.
Still, I have to have faith that the series will be well done and rewarding given that the showrunner is an award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs Jenkins (a producer on Guardian and Outer Reach), in collaboration with fellow producers Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, the wrestler), Joe Weissberg (The American) and Joel Fields (Foss/Verdon). Perhaps the full-length trailer, when released, will give us a better sense of the true tone and scope of the series.
All eight episodes of relationship Start streaming on Hulu on December 13th. We will watch.
Listing image from YouTube/FX
This article was previously published on Source link