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One of the best time-travel books ever gets a great-looking adaptation

Plans to adapt Octavia E. Butler’s seminal novel Kindred for screen have floated around Hollywood since the book was published in 1979. But with the help of writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen), the science-fiction story has finally found a home at FX and Hulu. FX premiered the first full trailer this Tuesday, following an earlier teaser released last week, revealing that the entire first season would arrive to Hulu this December.

Executive produced by Darren Aronofsky and Janicza Bravo (Zola), who also directed the pilot, Kindred takes a more grounded approach to a sensational time-travel odyssey. Mallori Johnson (WeCrashed) stars as Dana, a young Black woman and aspiring writer who relocates to Los Angeles to put her life on track. But, as FX puts it in the show’s official synopsis,” before Dana can settle, she “finds herself being violently pulled back and forth in time to a nineteenth-century plantation with which she and her family are surprisingly and intimately linked. An interracial romance threads through her past and present, and the clock is ticking as she struggles to confront the secrets she never knew ran through her blood, in this genre-breaking exploration of the ties that bind.”

The full-season release of Kindred bears a striking resemblance Amazon Studios’ approach to The Underground Railroad, Barry Jenkins’ 2021 television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel of the same, which was released in full last year on May 14. While the latter series went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film, as well as receiving a Peabody Award, one cannot help but wonder whether the series might have enjoyed a larger, word-of-mouth audience had it been released episodically. And what could possibly be more ready for word-of-mouth success than a fantastic looking sci-fi series based on an all-time classic book.

In her storied career, Octavia E. Butler was a Hugo Award winner and MacArthur Fellow, but Kindred remains her most popular and influential novel. We’ll see if the series adaptation can make the same kind of connection with audiences when it drops in full on Dec. 13.

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