kindred tv series

Octavia Butler was a pioneer in science fiction and her groundbreaking novels are long overdue for more attention. Thankfully, I come bearing good news: FX is adapting Butler’s widely popular 1979 novel Kindred. Production is scheduled to begin in September, so the final product is still some time away — but the TV series is already putting together an exciting roster of cast and crew.

Zola director Janicza Bravo has signed on to direct and executive produce the series pilot, which is very promising given the success of her recent film. Zola was a festival darling, receiving plenty of positive chatter afters its Sundance debut and recent release in theaters. Bravo’s snappy directions and brilliant use of sound design were particularly well received. This could be used to great effect in Kindred, a time-travel narrative that jumps between 1976 California and a Civil-War era Maryland plantation.

Bravo has already spoken on her excitement about the project, mentioning her personal connection to Butler’s work. She recently told Deadline:

“I first read Kindred 20 years ago. I was in college. I hadn’t ever seen myself in a world like that. And certainly not at its center. What might seem like only a portrait of an invisible woman is also a potent embrace of our relationship to history and how it can bring us closer to our future.”

Kindred follows Dana, a young Black woman and aspiring writer who uproots her life to relocate to Los Angeles. While struggling to seize control of her life and settle into her new environment, Dana is also haunted by her past — in a very real, visceral way. She is violently pulled back and forth in time, between the present and a 19th-century plantation where she encounters her ancestors.

Newcomer Mallori Johnson will fill the role of Dana, with other roles yet to be announced. Behind the scenes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen) has penned the script. The series will be executive produced by Courtney Lee-Mitchell, Darren Aronofsky, Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields.

The Work of Octavia Butler

Butler was a groundbreaking writer, whose work paved the way for many of the Black sci-fi writers that followed. Her body of work has been heavily awarded, including winning her the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her novels tangle with complex questions of intersectionality, race, culture, mythology, and Afrofuturism. Sales of her books have only increased since her 2006 death, as overdue conversations about Black voices and talent in sci-fi become more frequent.

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