A challenging, thought-provoking science fiction novel involving the antebellum period of the American South, Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred may finally be getting a television adaptation. (Always, always take such announcements with a grain of salt and an understanding that media landscapes shift — but this one HAS to happen.)
According to Deadline, FX has ordered a pilot for Kindred, to be adapted by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a consulting producer on HBO’s Watchmen. He will also executive produce the project along with Courtney Lee-Mitchell, who obtained the rights from Butler’s estate in 2008. Lee-Mitchell has the backing of Darren Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures, Joe Weisberg, and Joel Fields, all under the banner of FX Studios — which I think counts as Disney.
Kindred focuses on (the still uncast) Dana, a young black writer who has recently relocated to Los Angeles. As she tries to settle in to her new environment, she gets pulled back to a 19th-century plantation with links to her heritage. From Deadline’s description, it’s unclear how directly the series will follow the novel. Butler published it in the 1970s, but it’s likely that the Los Angeles portions will be set in the 2020s.
This isn’t the first time Kindred has jumped from novel to another medium. A few years ago writer Damian Duffy and artist John Jennings adapted Butler’s novel into a powerful graphic novel. Butler’s vision also influenced last year’s horror film Antebellum.
Though Butler passed away too soon at age 58 in 2006, her work is more popular (and more relevant) than ever. A pioneer of Afrofuturism, she was recently honored by NASA when they named the Mars landing site for Perseverance “Octavia E. Butler Landing.”
No word yet on the targeted date for production or airing of Kindred, but I look forward to it.
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