Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred is almost fifty years old and timeless. It’s the quintessentially American novel, so it had to be daunting to approach the work for an adaptation. Judging from the trailer for the FX series from showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen), it’s hewing close to the letters on the page.
In the series (and obviously the book), Dana (Mallori Johnson) is a young Black writer who moves into a new house and starts to have dizzy spells that send her back to a plantation in 1815 Maryland. This understandably freaks out her husband, Kevin (Micah Stock), a white man who eventually helps guide her through a truly horrifying, uncontrollable situation. Dana ultimately comes into contact with her own ancestors, jumping between a time of grotesque systemic racism and also the pre-Civil War era. The most curious thing will be how far this series can go since it’s on FX, although Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale may offer a guidepost there while still needing to find its own balance. Butler’s work is profoundly harrowing, and it might be a serious misstep not to reflect that in the show.
Even from the trailer, though, it looks like a winner. Johnson, who had a brief arc on WeCrashed is a real find. She clearly owns this role.
Fortunately, all 8 episodes of the series will land at the same time on Hulu December 13th.