Sometimes, you have to time travel to help heal generational wounds.
“Kindred,” a new FX series on Hulu, is based on the 1979 novel by Octavia E. Butler. (All eight episodes are now streaming.)
The bestselling novel explores time travel, history, family and themes of race and gender, and the new show will do the same. But how do the book and show compare? We read the book, watched the first season and spoke with the show’s creator, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, about plot points and changes in the television adaptation.
Here are some of the biggest differences between the novel “Kindred” and the new TV show based on the book (A few spoilers ahead):
When does ‘Kindred’ take place?
In both the TV and book versions of “Kindred,” Dana, played by Mallori Johnson, time travels between the present and antebellum Maryland in the early 1800s. But while the “present” of the novel is 1976, the “present” time in the series is 2016.
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Dana and Kevin’s relationship is different
Dana is married to Kevin Franklin in the book, but their relationship has barely begun in the show. Dana James is 26 at the beginning of the series; Kevin (Micah Stock) is older, although it’s not clear if he’s 10 years her senior, as he is in the novel. They are just meeting in the first episode as opposed to moving into their new home when the novel kicks off.
In writing the show, Jacobs-Jenkins says he gave a lot of thought to the “evolution of gender roles or gendered behaviors, expectations around courtship” and what would make sense for Dana in 2016 versus 1976.
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He says he thought about how to develop their relationship in a way that parallels the flashbacks in the book. “Can we get these two people convincingly married by the end of this series? It allowed me to put real stakes in their partnership.”
Dana’s mother is alive and plays a crucial role
Dana’s mother, Olivia Butler James (Sheria Irving), has a critical role in the series, though in the book, Dana’s mother died when Dana was young. Olivia helps keep Dana safe while she’s at the plantation and helps her navigate this unfamiliar world.
So while literary Dana is an orphan, Jacobs-Jenkins says he wanted to “flesh out” the character “by giving her familial relationships that are complicated and that might also get us closer to an answer about why this is happening to her and more fully complete this metaphor I think Octavia was working toward” about kinship.
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Other relatives mentioned in the book also have a more prominent role in the series: Dana’s Aunt Denise, a nurse, and Uncle Alan, a retired police officer, and Kevin’s sister Penny (who was named Carol in the book).
When Dana first meets Rufus
Dana realizes she is being pulled back to the past to help protect a young boy, Rufus Weylin. He’s the son of Tom Weylin (Ryan Kwanten), a wealthy plantation owner, who is brutally harsh, not only to those enslaved on his property but to his family, too.
As in the novel, Dana is brought back several times throughout Rufus’ life, with each stay growing longer. But in the series, she is first called to help Rufus when he is a baby, whereas he first saves Rufus at about age 5 in the book.
Kevin is now a musician
Kevin is a musician, pulled to the past with Dana in one of the moments she’s summoned. Kevin is tasked with teaching piano to the young Rufus – and later, Rufus’ mother, Margaret. In the book, Kevin is a writer, and he is hired by Tom to tutor Rufus, who had been pulled from school.
“Honestly, there’s nothing more boring to me than a show about two writers writing,” Jacobs-Jenkins says about the career change. “I also was curious about bringing another texture of creativity into it. In television, it’s sound and picture, and I wanted to create like a really rich sound world as much as I could.”
Will there be another season of ‘Kindred’?
The first season of the show covers only about a third of the events in the book, and it ends with a lot of questions.
The show hasn’t been renewed yet, but “we’re working hard on a really great second season,” Jacobs-Jenkins says.
Story Credit: usatoday.com