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Television adaptation of Octavia Butler’s ‘Kindred’ gets series order at FX

Watchmen alum Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is showrunning the series. 

By Vanessa Armstrong
FX's Kindred

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ television adaptation of Octavia Butler’s award-winning 1979 sci-fi novel, Kindred, is moving forward at FX. The network broke the news today and shared the first image of the show (see above), ten months after FX picked up the project for a pilot episode in March 2021. 

The eight-episode series will revolve around Dana (Mallori Johnson), a young Black woman and aspiring writer in present-day Los Angeles who finds herself thrust back and forth through time to a nineteenth-century plantation that is linked to her family. 

Jacobs-Jenkins, who joined the project as showrunner and writer after working on Watchmen, penned the pilot script. "Since my first encounter with the novel nearly two decades ago, there have been few, if any, books and even fewer authors who have meant as much to me as Kindred and Octavia Butler," said Jacobs-Jenkins in a statement back in March when FX greenlit the pilot, which was directed by Janicza Bravo (Zola). 

The pilot, it seems, was well-received by the network. “Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has done a phenomenal job of adapting Kindred for FX and honoring the legacy and timeless value of Octavia Butler’s groundbreaking novel,” Nick Grad, President of Original Programming at FX, said today in a statement. “The pilot directed by Janicza Bravo is brilliant, and we can’t wait to resume production with this incredibly talented and dedicated cast.”

The series also has the blessing of Octavia Butler’s estate. "Branden, like Octavia, is a recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' grant. As soon as I heard he was being considered, I went to see one of his plays and I was blown away," Merrilee Heifetz, the literary executor of Butler's estate told SYFY WIRE in March. "We also spoke at length and I believe he will write an intelligent, sensitive, and beautiful adaptation. He has enormous love and respect for the book and will do his best to be a trustworthy steward. Television is not a novel though — it won’t be an exact interpretation."

In addition to Johnson, FX’s Kindred stars Micah Stock, Ryan Kwanten, Gayle Rankin, Austin Smith, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, and David Alexander Kaplan. Jacobs-Jenkins is also executive producing along with Courtney Lee-Mitchell (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Darren Aronofsky (mother!), Ari Handel (One Strange Rock, Noah), Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields (The Americans), Ernestine Walker, and Merrilee Heifetz.

No news yet on when we’ll see the adaptation on the small screen.

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