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TV Tuesday: Kindred

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Book By Book

One of my favorite books read this year was Kindred by Octavia Butler (my review at the link), which I read for a book group hosted by my local independent bookstore in February. This historical fiction time travel story blew me away, so when I heard that a TV adaptation was coming, I was thrilled! My husband and I started watching it on its release date last week. We are three episodes in so far and are both loving it.

Dana, played by Mallori Johnson, is a young writer who has just moved cross-country from New York to California. She sold her grandmother’s house in Brooklyn and purchased a house on a peaceful tree-lined street in L.A. She meets Kevin, played by Micah Stock, a waiter in the restaurant where she’s just gotten into an argument with her aunt and uncle, her only family in town, who don’t seem pleased about her recent move. Dana and Kevin get to know each other over the next two days, as he helps Dana buy some essentials for her empty house. He spends the night but wakes to Dana screaming on the floor. She’s just been transported to a Maryland plantation in 1815, where she saw a white boy named Rufus drowning in the river and saved him. While she was leaning over the boy, after reviving him with CPR, his mother arrives and begins beating her, and his father points a gun at her. Then, Dana is back in her home, with Kevin asking what happened. This continues, as she and Kevin try to figure out what is happening and why she keeps getting pulled back. Meanwhile, in the present day, Dana has some new nosy neighbors who keep coming to the house to investigate the screams and clearly suspect Kevin is abusive to Dana. Then things really get interesting.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I hate spoilers, so that is just the barest outline of the first episode or two, as much as is shown in the trailer. SO much happens in this story. I read the book and loved it, and my husband has not read the book, but we are both enjoying the TV show, so I recommend it whether you know and love this story or are unfamiliar with it. There are a few changes and additions to the TV show, but so far, they all add to the story rather than detract.  The main actors, playing Dana and Kevin, as well as the people back in the 1800′s, are all excellent in their roles. Dana’s fear and Kevin’s confusion are palpable, as this unbelievable thing continues to happen. It’s all the more interesting because Kevin and Dana barely know each other but are suddenly flung into life-or-death situations (this is one of the changes; in the book, they are married). The settings, both modern and historic, are rendered in great detail, making both times feel real. The suspense and tension are keeping us riveted to the screen.The premise is so compelling, with so many layers to it, that it’s hard not to just binge the whole thing all at once, but I want to make the 8 episodes last. Seeing a modern Black woman suddenly stuck on a plantation during slavery times is disturbing but also powerful and gripping. This is one of the best shows on TV right now! I can’t wait to see the rest of the season.

Kindred is streaming exclusively on Hulu.


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