The beauty of Octavia Butler’s Kindred is how the novel frames empathy and care for others as forces powerful enough to move people through space and time. But the first trailer for FX’s upcoming series based on the book makes it seem like this take on Kindred’s going to be much more focused on scaring viewers with the horrors of time-traveling while Black.
Kindred tells the story of writer Dana (Mallori Johnson) and her partner Kevin (Micah Stock), an interracial couple who’ve just moved into a new home in Los Angeles. While both Kevin and Dana are excited to begin the next chapter of their lives together in a new city, the unshakable unease Dana feels as she tries to settle in LA soon reveals itself to be much more than just a feeling. In Butler’s book, Dana realizes that she’s somehow being pulled back and forth through time and space from her present in LA to an antebellum plantation, and in the trailer, that realization’s something that prompts Dana to question whether she’s losing her mind.
The trailer works not to give too much of the show’s premise away, but those familiar with the book will recognize the brief shots of slave owner Thomas Weylin (Ryan Kwanten) and his son Rufus (David Alexander Kaplan) and understand how their stories are part of what’s pulling Dana back in time. It’s interesting to see how much emphasis showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has put on the psychological horror elements of FX’s Kindred. But what remains to be seen ahead of the adaptation’s December 13th premiere on FX on Hulu is how its story might enhance or deepen Butler’s work, something that’s much easier said than done.