Stream or skip?


Stream or skip? +2023

It’s always interesting when well-regarded best-selling novels take decades to get to the big screen. Octavia Butler’s ambitious novel relationship, for example, hits our televisions just 43 years after its release. Why did it take so long? Well, setting a story in the present or near present and the year 1815 takes some work. But it could also be that the topics addressed were simply too sensitive for the state of television at that time. But thanks to FX, a new series based on the book is now streaming on Hulu. Can the series keep up with the ambition of the novel?

RELATIONSHIP: Stream or skip?

opening shot: A ceiling fan spins. A woman lies face down on the floor and calls out the name “Kevin”. She’s obviously in pain.

The essentials: The woman manages to struggle to her feet; she has bleeding welts on her back. She has no idea where Kevin is. She tries to calm herself with an Epson salt bath. Later, when the police come to the social check, she refuses to open the door.

Two days earlier, Dana James (Mallori Johnson) is in the house; She recently moved to LA from Brooklyn and made enough money from the sale of the brownstone her grandmother left her to buy this place near Silver Lake and have enough money left over to pursue her dream to write for TV soaps.

She goes out to dinner with her aunt Denise (Eisa Davis) and her husband Alan (Charles Parnell). Discussing the sale of the brownstone and her plans to write for television, she gets nothing but disapproval from her aunt, who is a nurse and thinks Dana should pursue something with a little more stability. As she leaves the upset dinner, she realizes she needs a phone charger; She gets one from her waiter, Kevin Franklin (Micah Stock), who also drives her home. They talk and understand each other; She invites him to pick up the LPs she picked up from Brooklyn, which he loves because he’s been in a band and loves music.

That night, Dana has what she thinks is a very vivid dream: she wakes up in a house in what seems like a distant past. A baby lies face down in a cradle; She turns the boy around and then hears two women talking in the hallway. When she sees one of the women, she recognizes her as her mother, Olivia (Sheria Irving), who died with her father when she was 2 years old. When she returns, she finds herself in an odd position, believing she must have been sleepwalking.

After a fight with Denise, she calls Kevin to give her a lift while she spends heavily on furniture and other things to fill the house. They bond during the day and have sex in the evening. But she wakes up to get a glass of water and disappears again, this time to save the same boy, Rufus Weylin (David Alexander Kaplan), from drowning when he’s a little older. When she returns, soaked and exhausted, she tells Kevin what happened to her. Of course, he doesn’t believe her until he sees her disappear and reappear with his own eyes.

What she sees in her third disappearance is shocking: her mother, who claims she has been stuck in this time for over a decade.

Photo: Tina Rowden/FX

What shows will it remind you of? relationship is an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel of the same name, and the plot sounds vaguely like it quantum leap mixed with Underground.

Our opinion: What fascinated us right away relationship is that once the imagination of the series really got going, where Dana realizes she’s been transporting back and forth over 200 years, rather than just having a dream, the Branden Jacobs-Jenkins who adapted the novel and its writers didn’t spent a lot of time with Dana trying to get someone to believe her.

Kevin witnesses her third disappearance and then sees her coming back, beaten and injured after being attacked by Daniel (Adam Bartley), who is on patrol looking for runaway slaves. So he knows something strange is going on with Dana, and he’s going to end up doing these time travels with her. It’s a refreshing turn of events, as it gives Dana an instant ally; She doesn’t waste energy trying to get people to believe her because she has someone by her side to go through this with her.

That’s good because there’s a lot to unpack with this story. It appears that she is about the same age as Olivia was when she first started traveling back and forth in time, but Olivia got stuck in the early 1800s. Will this happen to Dana? Where is Dana’s father who she thought was dead too? And how will she find her way in a world where her life is literally controlled?

The contrast between where Dana is in the 2010s and where she is in the 1810s is what intrigues us the most. How will she manage to be in a world where she has choices, in a world where she has none? And how will the secrets she uncovers in the past, particularly when she meets Olivia, inform how she handles a family like Denise in the present?

We don’t know much about Dana in the present, other than the fact that Denise is basically the only family she has and that she loves soaps. It feels like the lack of character development is purposeful for Dana, as her life prior to the time skips is marked by tragedy and little else. Many details are filled in during their hops back to the plantation; We hope the information she gets will motivate her to do whatever it takes to not get stuck in the 1810s forever.

gender and skin: There is some vague nudity shown behind shower doors and lots of steam. Even the sex between Dana and Kevin is hinted at.

farewell shot: Dana snaps a picture of Olivia and tells Kevin that she saw her mother when she jumped into the past.

sleeping star: Gayle Rankin plays Margaret Weylin, Rufus’ mother. She seems to be the only one protecting Rufus from his tyrannical father, Thomas (Ryan Kwanten), but she’s not good at controlling her emotions. We’ll be excited to see how Dana interacts with her in the future.

Most pilot line: Dana has charted episodes of. dynasty as research for her new career, and when she tries to share her interest with Kevin, he falls asleep. He hasn’t even heard of the show, which tells us he doesn’t appreciate the classics.

Our appeal: Stream it. There is potential for relationship go awry when the show’s writers focus on the wrong side of Dana’s time travel adventure. But it’s definitely an intriguing premise that raises so many questions that we’ll continue to watch to see if they’re answered.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon,, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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