Ooh, you touched a nerve for me there. I don’t think screen adaptations owe any loyalty to books. If anything, they owe them a certain amount of treachery. The book exists; if I want to read it, I can; and if I love it, nothing can take that away. I don’t want a TV series to be a videobook. I want it to create a visual correlative to what the book made me feel, or to take the book as inspiration and go somewhere else entirely. (This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue as it sometimes seems that 90 percent of TV is based on pre-existing intellectual property.) Honestly, it’s rare for me to love a series this much when it so directly follows its source — and that was mostly because of how the more emotive rendering set it apart.
As they pass each other in the school hallway, he shoots her this look — so quick and yet so charged with complicity, wariness, desire. It’s followed by another moment, when they’re speaking very frankly to each other in his bedroom and Mescal starts picking at his skin, as if he wished he could be rid of it. These moments embody Connell for me — that sense, as James puts it, that he is wearing his body and identity with confusion and pain.