6 Hulu Series You Might Not Know Are Based on Popular Books
Love the show? Then you'll love the book too, probably.
When people think of popular shows and miniseries adapted from books on Hulu, most go straight to The Handmaid’s Tale. Not only is the source text (and its graphic novel adaptation) by transphobic author Maragaet Atwood read by students worldwide, but it gets more press every time it gets banned, the adaptation sweeps awards, and lawmakers decide to police women’s bodies even more. Luckily for us, this white feminist text isn’t the only thing the streaming giant has successfully adapted. Since then, many novels, essay collections, and graphic novels have gotten the silver screen treatment. From Hulu alone to a partnerships (like FX on Hulu), there are many great pairings to read and watch.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
After Reese Witherspoon featured the book on her popular bookclub, she and Kerry Washington helped executive produce and costarred in the miniseries based on the book.
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughen and Pia Guerra
This is the saga of Yorick Brown–the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.
Like many books on this list, Vaughen and Guerra provided an interesting (albiet played out) dystopian scenario in which everyone with a Y chromosome disappears. Like fellow TMS writer Chelsea Steiner, I was very disappointed upon the news that FX on Hulu decided to nix the show after one season. Not only did the show explore glossed over elements of the main comic (not mad, just worked better on screen), but it included a more updated and scientifically accurate depiction of the complexities of sex and chromosomes. Then, they cast accordingly, auditioning a few trans actors, most notable of which was the talented Elliot Fletcher.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.
While West’s book is a collection of essays with real stories (some bits of which you can read news stories about and watch videos of), the Hulu show starring SNL’s Aidy Bryant is more inspired by the book. Bryant, West, and Alexandra Ryshfield developed the show based on the book and personal experiences. Like in many cases, just because you like the show doesn’t mean you’ll like the book. This is mostly because the book can be a lot more triggering, as it tackles the toxicity of online/in-person cultural misogyny. However, if you enjoyed the book, you will probably love the show because it still retains its social humor and vulnerability.
Love, Victor is a spinoff show based on the movie Love, Simon, which itself is based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Other books in the Simonverse (mostly taking place at Creekwood High) include Leah on the Offbeat, The Upside of Unrequited, and the novella Love, Creekwood, (co-written with Adam Silvera).
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liana Moriarty
Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation–awkward but electrifying–something life changing begins.
A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
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