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Book Talk: The Book Club

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I only finished reading this book a few days ago (It's been on my shelf since 2017, but the show finally prompted me to read it!), so it is all fresh in my mind.  After watching the first episode, here are the differences and similarities that stood out for me.

First of all, Mia and Pearl are not African-American in the book.  Of course, I read this knowing Kerry Washington was cast so I was expecting them to be so, which made the reading of the book a little strange for me.  There is a lot of discussion of race in this book, but that is one that is added for the show.  After reading the book, I thought this new layer would be overkill in the show, but it actually works.

Also, the fight between Mia and Pearl about will they or won't they stay in Shaker was invented for the TV show.  In the book, it's pretty much decided that they will be staying in Shaker.

I think the show does a better job of placing the story in 1997 than the book.  In fact, I had many moments reading where something seemed strange and I had to remind myself that this was taking place 20+ years ago.  The show may have gone overboard with the cultural references, but I never got the impression that we were in the present day.

The actress playing Izzy is doing a great job of adding depth to the character that isn't there in the book, and I really appreciate that.  I'll be interested to see where it goes.

One thing that I don't really like in the show is that Elena seems to turn on Mia earlier than she does in the book.  That is such a powerful plot point when it happens in the novel, that I'm afraid it will be watered down when we get to it in the show.

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I'm so glad there is a book thread too.  Just finished it a few weeks ago.  A few things bothered me right away. 

1. Mia sleeping in the car and being caught by Elena.  I think this simplifies the "have/have not" vibe.  

2. Elena checking the references.  In the book, her "reasons" for investigating and much more nuanced and it also seemed to be a way for Elena to use her journalist skills.  This way seems a bit "single white female".  

3. Mia's freakout over Pearl being caught and the bike; Mia's flashbacks of the subway.  WAY too foreshadowing on the subway.  And Mia's reaction seemed really dramatic, just so we could have that corny "I love you so much" knock.

In the book, the most glaring 1997 references had to be Clinton trial and the old school way Elena hunts down information (and how easily folks give info.  I don't think HIPPA was active until the 2000's). 

I think Reese is a bit type cast in this role.  Kerry and having Mia/Pearl be women of color is very interesting.  It adds to 

Spoiler

the betrayal Pearl will feel later with what Elena does.  I'm sure Elena will say something about 'not seeing color' but her final actions to remove Mia because of what she thinks happens with Pearl and Tripp will have more layers due to race. 

 

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2 hours ago, CurlyATX said:

I'm so glad there is a book thread too.  Just finished it a few weeks ago.  A few things bothered me right away. 

1. Mia sleeping in the car and being caught by Elena.  I think this simplifies the "have/have not" vibe.  

2. Elena checking the references.  In the book, her "reasons" for investigating and much more nuanced and it also seemed to be a way for Elena to use her journalist skills.  This way seems a bit "single white female".  

These two bothered me as well.  In the book Mia and Pearl are not rich by any means, and they live incredibly frugally, but they aren't destitute and Mia always has a way to get money if she needs it.  I really think they can still play up the racial issue without having Mia and Pearl live on the edge.

I also felt Elena checking references so early and not after she sort of turns on Mia to potentially undermine the whole story.  I mean, we'll see how it goes but it does worry me how that will play out.

 

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19 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

These two bothered me as well.  In the book Mia and Pearl are not rich by any means, and they live incredibly frugally, but they aren't destitute and Mia always has a way to get money if she needs it.  I really think they can still play up the racial issue without having Mia and Pearl live on the edge.

I also felt Elena checking references so early and not after she sort of turns on Mia to potentially undermine the whole story.  I mean, we'll see how it goes but it does worry me how that will play out.

 

I'm going episode by episode but I'm now not sure I even want to finish!  I'm really irritated by the contempt Mia seems to have of everyone.  Her face always looks like she smelled someone's farts.  And she has a chip on her shoulder.  In the book, she seemed way more fluid and her interactions just seemed to sort of happen (Bebe and May Lin for example). 

Also the pot smoking? And how she acted when Elena came into the house.  In the book, she talks about the visits (which are thinly veiled inspections) but seems to put on a better shell of being welcoming.  

Finally the orchestra teacher situation is such a wasted opportunity.  When I read what really happened I felt it would be perfect in a movie.  Not sure if it continues in the other episodes but it loses it's charged racial incident (I think the teacher asks the girl is she needs to be taught in ebonics). 

Edited by CurlyATX · Reason: had even more thoughts

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2 hours ago, CurlyATX said:

I'm going episode by episode but I'm now not sure I even want to finish!  I'm really irritated by the contempt Mia seems to have of everyone.  Her face always looks like she smelled someone's farts.  And she has a chip on her shoulder.  In the book, she seemed way more fluid and her interactions just seemed to sort of happen (Bebe and May Lin for example). 

Also the pot smoking? And how she acted when Elena came into the house.  In the book, she talks about the visits (which are thinly veiled inspections) but seems to put on a better shell of being welcoming.  

Finally the orchestra teacher situation is such a wasted opportunity.  When I read what really happened I felt it would be perfect in a movie.  Not sure if it continues in the other episodes but it loses it's charged racial incident (I think the teacher asks the girl is she needs to be taught in ebonics). 

Yeah, in the book Mia is much more likable.  In the show, she seems to bask in victimhood, which is clearly NOT Mia in the book.

I still need to watch the 3rd episode, but I really hope we get Izzy's prank against the orchestra teacher because it was so well done in the book and I think it would transfer well to the screen.  

I also kind of feel the whole thing about Izzy being gay (possibly) is just overkill.  Her sexuality wasn't an issue in the book and there was plenty for her character.  When you add in the extra racial element with Mia and Pearl, as well as their poverty issue, it just seems like they are trying to put too much into this story.

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Having finished the 3rd episode, I have to say that I'm liking this show less and less.  It was a big shift to have Mia initiate the search for May Ling instead of Bebe independently searching for May Ling and Mia sort of happening upon the baby.  In the book, while the baby situation is the catalyst of everything that comes afterward, that story line with itself was--how should I put this?  the opposite of of a victimless crime, where everyone is a victim.  But the show has now made Mia the antagonist of that situation.

And generally, the change in Mia from a Bohemian artist who dances to her own tune to a bitter woman who basks in her own victimhood is a turn off for me.  It's strange, but I was most worried about Reese Witherspoon as Elena going into this show, but that has become what I consider one of the strongest parts.  Unfortunately, for this story to work, we have to feel both sympathy and anger at both women and I'm only getting both of those for Elena.  I'm starting to just hate Mia.

Also, I wonder who picked up this book and said, "You know what this needs?  More social issues!"  I mean, adding in Izzy being gay (maybe?), the racial issues, the poverty issues, the fuzzy consent issues with Lexie and Brian, and the immigration issues with Bebe...that's a lot for a story that already has a lot in it.  I'm starting to feel like I'm being lectured.

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ugh! This doesn't bode well.  I almost wish Reese and Kerry switched roles, though I know it would mean a lot of other swapping around (with Brian being Black/AA).  I'm bracing myself (fuzzy consent with Brian and Lexi?).

It's almost like neither one really read the book and just attended a book club discussion and went from there.  What I loved about the book was has seamlessly all these pieces fell together.  Mia and May Ling, Izzy and Pearl swapping places, Lexi and the abortion using Pearl's name, and the botched surrogacy.

The racial issue of who should be May Ling's mother was enough.   

I was a newly minted fresh-grad in 1997.  Was being gay such a big deal in high school? 

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10 minutes ago, CurlyATX said:

ugh! This doesn't bode well.  I almost wish Reese and Kerry switched roles, though I know it would mean a lot of other swapping around (with Brian being Black/AA).  I'm bracing myself (fuzzy consent with Brian and Lexi?).

 

I didn't mean to speculate with that.  It's just that in the book, Lexi's decision to have sex with Brian was of her own agency--she decided she wanted to and it was "time".  In the show, she seemed to do it because she wanted to get off his bad side regarding the essay.  To me, that adds another (unneeded) aspect to what will happen in the future.

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I need to learn to enjoy a show on its own even if it deviates a lot from a book.  But I'm not doing that now.  Right now, I'm bummed because so much of the deliciousness of the book revolved around the irony that

Spoiler

perfect Lexi ends up making a mistake and needing an abortion. 

 I enjoyed how the author shows that there really is no right/wrong on these situations but rather just the choices a person can afford to make.   And like mentioned, there is no victimhood.  Isn't there a line in the book about learning to live with the choices you make or carrying the choices around. 

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On 3/23/2020 at 2:56 PM, OtterMommy said:

I didn't mean to speculate with that.  It's just that in the book, Lexi's decision to have sex with Brian was of her own agency--she decided she wanted to and it was "time".  In the show, she seemed to do it because she wanted to get off his bad side regarding the essay.  To me, that adds another (unneeded) aspect to what will happen in the future.

Yeah, the decision was much more gray in the show - she even had a look on her face like “Well, I guess...?”

I actually like the decision to make Mia and Pearl Black, but I agree that Kerry Washington is playing Mia very differently than Book Mia and I’m not sure I like it. Reese Witherspoon is playing Elena EXACTLY as I envisioned her though. Every microaggression is perfectly delivered. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning white liberal folks (students, parents, and teachers) said some shit to me about affirmative action during my college application process. I hope they keep the line in (I think it’s Lexie who says it) about how “no one in Shaker sees race.”

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2 minutes ago, Empress1 said:

I actually like the decision to make Mia and Pearl Black, but I agree that Kerry Washington is playing Mia very differently than Book Mia and I’m not sure I like it. 

That's where I am.  I actually think that making Mia and Pearl black (and, to be fair, they were never actually described as being white in the book either--it was ambiguous) was smart because it highlights Elena's microaggressions.  My problem is that they then seemed to take another step and added on the poverty issue, as well as making Mia fit into some stereotypes held by people such as Elena.  I think making Mia African-American and still making her the sort of zen Bohemian artist that she was in the book would have been more effective.  Pearl's character is pretty faithful to the book (as are all the kids, except maybe Izzy), so I'm not sure why they wanted to push Mia out of her literary mold.

I don't like the way Kerry Washington is playing Mia, but I can't put all the blame on her.  The plot changes back up her characterization of Mia so I think it is a very conscious decision.

I do want to add that one thing I do like is that they have softened Elena towards Izzy quite a bit.  In the show, you can see that Elena wants very much to have a relationship with her youngest daughter, but the two are very much on different planes.  In the book, Elena seems to have written off Izzy long before the story began.

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2 hours ago, Empress1 said:

I can’t tell you how many well-meaning white liberal folks (students, parents, and teachers) said some shit to me about affirmative action during my college application process.

oh yeah! We started a Diversity Equity task force and I can't tell you the comments I overhear from white guys about "why can't we just hire the most qualified person?"  And I always love the "I don't see color" line.  In my head I always snark "then you should see an ophthalmologist ASAP." 

 

2 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

My problem is that they then seemed to take another step and added on the poverty issue, as well as making Mia fit into some stereotypes held by people such as Elena.

yes.  I think in the book she only slept in the car to help her drive across country faster. I liked how she had the spunk and some resources to get by, even if it were just in a low-key way.  I had the feeling that Pearl never felt "poor".  I assume it's like how my kids just take for granted that we shop at JC Penny vs exclusively buying Vineyard Vines or whatever. 

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48 minutes ago, CurlyATX said:

s.  I think in the book she only slept in the car to help her drive across country faster. I liked how she had the spunk and some resources to get by, even if it were just in a low-key way.  I had the feeling that Pearl never felt "poor".  I assume it's like how my kids just take for granted that we shop at JC Penny vs exclusively buying Vineyard Vines or whatever. 

Right, in the book Mia and Pearl never wanted for money.  Mia was just very unmaterialistic.  They had a source of income that Mia could tap whenever she needed to and her taking other jobs was not only for extra money so that they didn't need to tap that income AND for her to see people in the community and get inspired for her art.  Even the beat up car was kept for sentimental, not financial, reasons.

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1 hour ago, CurlyATX said:

And I always love the "I don't see color" line.  In my head I always snark "then you should see an ophthalmologist ASAP." 

My favorite response is one Trevor Noah used when someone said it to him: "What do you do at traffic lights?"

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52 minutes ago, Empress1 said:

My favorite response is one Trevor Noah used when someone said it to him: "What do you do at traffic lights?"

I'm stealing this!!

On a random side note, I finally took my son to get his eyes checked after a major parenting fail of him telling me he needed glasses and realizing his last checkup was 2015.  The doctor gave him a color test since boys can often be color blind.  That literally was a test to "see color".  I was snickering inside. 

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This is the first novel-based show I started watching, and since that didn't feel quite right I went to Amazon to read the first couple of pages via the "Look Inside" feature. I found the writing really labored, the sentences too long and convoluted. Is the entire book like that? In most cases I find the novel superior to the show (e.g. Big Little Lies), but this seems like the opposite.

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1 hour ago, chocolatine said:

This is the first novel-based show I started watching, and since that didn't feel quite right I went to Amazon to read the first couple of pages via the "Look Inside" feature. I found the writing really labored, the sentences too long and convoluted. Is the entire book like that? In most cases I find the novel superior to the show (e.g. Big Little Lies), but this seems like the opposite.

I think that is just Ng's style.  I wasn't bothered by it and I actually much prefer the book to the show, but this is also a book that people seem to either love or hate.

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14 minutes ago, OtterMommy said:

I think that is just Ng's style.  I wasn't bothered by it and I actually much prefer the book to the show, but this is also a book that people seem to either love or hate.

I guess this style of writing is popular these days, but I found it so tedious, I couldn't read beyond the first few paragraphs. And it's not that I'm picky, I read a lot of low-brow fiction, but Ng's style just screams "look at me, aren't I a clever writer!"

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5 hours ago, Haleth said:

So how in the world are the writers going to make the Pearl/Lexie confusion plausible?

Are you talking about the upcoming abortion?  If so, it isn't an issue if they stick to the book.  There, Elena snooped around her friend's desk and saw that "Pearl" was in the patient list. 

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18 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

Are you talking about the upcoming abortion?  If so, it isn't an issue if they stick to the book.  There, Elena snooped around her friend's desk and saw that "Pearl" was in the patient list. 

Oh, ok.  It's been so long since I read it that I couldn't remember how Elena found out, but even a most superficial investigation would reveal that no, Lexie is not Pearl.

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I read the book this week and really enjoyed. I enjoyed the first three episodes and didn’t mind the minor deviations but episode 4 started to go off rails for me. Why have Mia quit so early in the season? I get that having BeBe call and leave a message isn’t great for tv so they had her crash the shower but using Mia’s car and the whole bumper sticker was really unnecessary. I also wished they would’ve included how long Linda knew she was the mother from the note left in the box. I also didn’t really care for Mia selling a print to pay for Bebe’s legal fees. What was wrong with the guy taking her case pro bono like he did in the book? 

I agree it was unnecessary to have Izzy be gay, it just screams of we wanted a LGBT character and we couldn’t have it be anyone else. What exactly was the point of the Halloween party? I though the dance took its place last episode; It served no purpose except for Moody to give Pearl the journal. I’m almost not really sure what they are planning to do with Trip/Pearl after this episode, either. 

They kind of hinted at a Mr. Richardson/Mia affair a couple of times in the first batch of episodes and I hope they don’t go there. It was pretty obvious in the book Mia wasn’t into anyone ever. I am interested in seeing how they do with Mia’s backstory once they get to it. 
 

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I caved and read the book this weekend because (a) there's not much else to do during a statewide stay-at-home order, and (b) I didn't want to wait several weeks to find out what's going to happen on the show. I maintain my first impression that the book is poorly written. In the same way as many other recent bestsellers it's driven by a sensationalist plot, and suffers from shallow characterization and overused cliches. Since Hulu's previous literary adaptions were The Handmaid's Tale and Catch-22 - two of my favorite books of all time - this one was a huge disappointment.

Having said that, the Mia character works much better in the book than in the show. Book Mia is aloof and a little "too cool for school", but she's always civil with everyone (including Elena) and warm towards the Richardson kids. And while she's supportive of Bebe she doesn't egg her on or get personally involved like Show Mia. 

Edited by chocolatine
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As I've book talk traffic from episode threads over here, I wanted to post a couple of reminders.

1 - This is a spoiler zone.  Spoiler tags are not necessary.

2 - If you have not read the book, you will be spoiled in this thread.

Thank you!

 

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51 minutes ago, MaggieG said:

I'm trying to remember if Jamie was in the book or if he's a show creation.

Not in the book in the flesh. They reference him as a guy she dated in high school that dropped out and was later drafted. He excited her more than Billy but she considered that to be a bad thing. 

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5 hours ago, healthnut said:

Not in the book in the flesh. They reference him as a guy she dated in high school that dropped out and was later drafted. He excited her more than Billy but she considered that to be a bad thing. 

IIRC, she hadn't even met Bill at that point. Jamie wanted her to move to California with him and lead a hippie life. She decided to stay in Ohio and go to college. She met Bill in her first week of classes and they've been together ever since, and she did end up having her perfectly planned post-college life by moving back to Shaker with Bill after graduation.

I think the show made a big change by putting the Jamie relationship into senior year of college instead of senior year of high school, because that made it much more serious as an alternative path for Elena that she possibly regrets not having taken. In the book Elena didn't seem to regret her choices.

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1 hour ago, chocolatine said:

IIRC, she hadn't even met Bill at that point. Jamie wanted her to move to California with him and lead a hippie life. She decided to stay in Ohio and go to college. She met Bill in her first week of classes and they've been together ever since, and she did end up having her perfectly planned post-college life by moving back to Shaker with Bill after graduation.

I think the show made a big change by putting the Jamie relationship into senior year of college instead of senior year of high school, because that made it much more serious as an alternative path for Elena that she possibly regrets not having taken. In the book Elena didn't seem to regret her choices.

She didn’t regret her choices but here’s the excerpt from the book: “What she had felt for Jamie back then had been just a tiny, passing flame. All her life, she learned that passion, like fire was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control....better to control the spark”

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I find it interesting that, despite everything they've added to to the story, the show has not addressed Bebe's mental health issues.  Honestly, I would have wished they would have toned down some of the other issues not in the book in order to continue this.

So far, we've only had 5 episodes, so I guess it would still come up.  But I also think if it hasn't yet, it never will.  We shall see.

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Thanks to @ElectricBoogaloo, we now have a book questions thread.  If you have not read the book and have a question, but do not want to be spoiled, please go to this thread.  

If you have not read the book and do not want to be spoiled, be advised that this thread is a spoiler thread and you should be in the book questions thread.

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Not really sure how I feel about some of the changes made in the most recent episode, specifically Mia's relationship with Pauline (and Anita) and the circumstances of Izzy's birth.

I think there are a lot of ways to be intimate with someone, and I preferred  the more maternal intimacy of Mia and Pauline from the book. I also think Mia and Anita's relationship made a lot more sense in the book. Pauline and Anita had really gone out of their way to take care of Mia, and so of course Anita would continue that after Pauline's death. As opposed to the show where they only seemed to know each other through Pauline.

And I thought it was much more interesting how in the book Izzy was wanted and planned for, but her premature birth and subsequent health concerns are what put such a strain on her relationship with Elena. I think the accidental pregnancy in the show felt much less complex and almost a little cheap. I know they touched upon Izzy being a difficult baby, but I don't think that had the same emotional reach.

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20 hours ago, TwoBitUsherette said:

I think there are a lot of ways to be intimate with someone, and I preferred  the more maternal intimacy of Mia and Pauline from the book. I also think Mia and Anita's relationship made a lot more sense in the book. Pauline and Anita had really gone out of their way to take care of Mia, and so of course Anita would continue that after Pauline's death. As opposed to the show where they only seemed to know each other through Pauline.

It was Pauline and her wife, Mal, who had the maternal relationship with Mia. Anita was always a peripheral character. After Pauline's death, Mal sent Mia the prints of their photo session - which was not sexual in nature like they made it in the show - along with Anita's contact information so Mia would have a way to sell them. The one thing Anita did to help Mia beyond selling Pauline's work was to represent Mia's own work as well, which I don't think an agent of Anita's caliber normally would have done. There was a mention in the book that one of Mia's pieces sold for a few hundred dollars; Anita probably wouldn't have bothered with that if Mia hadn't been Pauline's protege.

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12 hours ago, chocolatine said:

It was Pauline and her wife, Mal, who had the maternal relationship with Mia. Anita was always a peripheral character. After Pauline's death, Mal sent Mia the prints of their photo session - which was not sexual in nature like they made it in the show - along with Anita's contact information so Mia would have a way to sell them. The one thing Anita did to help Mia beyond selling Pauline's work was to represent Mia's own work as well, which I don't think an agent of Anita's caliber normally would have done. There was a mention in the book that one of Mia's pieces sold for a few hundred dollars; Anita probably wouldn't have bothered with that if Mia hadn't been Pauline's protege.

Thanks for the correction! I listened to the audiobook during my commute (back when that was a thing) and some of the details clearly got lost.

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On 4/3/2020 at 9:05 AM, OtterMommy said:

I find it interesting that, despite everything they've added to to the story, the show has not addressed Bebe's mental health issues.  Honestly, I would have wished they would have toned down some of the other issues not in the book in order to continue this.

So far, we've only had 5 episodes, so I guess it would still come up.  But I also think if it hasn't yet, it never will.  We shall see.

Not having read the book, I had no idea Bebe had any mental health issues. If it's not too much of a spoiler, can you tell me more about that? Thanks!

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3 hours ago, IslandGirl said:

Not having read the book, I had no idea Bebe had any mental health issues. If it's not too much of a spoiler, can you tell me more about that? Thanks!

Bebe had very severe post-partum depression, to the point that she was unable function.  After she left Mai Ling at the fire station she somehow gets access to medical care and anti-depressants so, that at the time we meet her in the book, she is functioning.  The point of it is that she was, at the time she had Mai Ling, I able to care for her and then, in the present time of the story, able to do so.

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5 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

Bebe had very severe post-partum depression, to the point that she was unable function.  After she left Mai Ling at the fire station she somehow gets access to medical care and anti-depressants so, that at the time we meet her in the book, she is functioning.  The point of it is that she was, at the time she had Mai Ling, I able to care for her and then, in the present time of the story, able to do so.

Oh wow, thanks OtterMommy! (do you really have an otter?!) That significantly changes things. I wonder if they will address that at some later point in the series? Seems too important to omit entirely...

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I’m with you, @TwoBitUsherette - I don’t like that they made the relationship between Mia and Pauline sexual. It feels ... I don’t know, like a cop-out. Like they couldn’t possibly convey a close relationship between women unless they were sleeping together.

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Just feels like they are going out of their way to make Mia unlikeable. One of the beautiful things in the book was the relationship Mia had with Pauline & Mal, cutting out Mal and making Mia sleep with her mentor/teacher really cheapens their relationship. I also prefer the print in the book of Mia holding Pearl as opposed to Mia being pregnant. I guess they feel like they didn’t have enough time in a episode split with Elena’s (incorrect) backstory to develop the story better. 

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2 hours ago, Empress1 said:

I’m with you, @TwoBitUsherette - I don’t like that they made the relationship between Mia and Pauline sexual. It feels ... I don’t know, like a cop-out. Like they couldn’t possibly convey a close relationship between women unless they were sleeping together.

I also agree.  By making Mia's relationship with Pauline sexual, the show is robbing itself of explaining a lot about Mia.  In the book:

  • Mia doesn't feel accepted by her parents
  • Mia finds a surrogate mother in Pauline
  • Warren dies and Mia returns home which amplifies her fractured relationship with her own mother
  • Mia decides to create her own family with baby Pearl

But, in the show, Mia has an affair, her lover dies and....there is no straight line explaining why she ran away to keep Pearl.

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can someone remind me why in the book Elena starts investigating Mia? Was it to find her connect with Bebe? I know she had some "helpful" reason why she started snooping.

I read that Reese added the infidelity element to her role in Big Little Lies.  I find it interesting she had this come up with Elena.  I think it cheapens her character.

Is it bad that I'm pleased that Mia spilled the beans about the abortion? That is one thing I really wished happened in the book, though I admire Mia's classiness. 

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3 hours ago, CurlyATX said:

can someone remind me why in the book Elena starts investigating Mia? Was it to find her connect with Bebe? I know she had some "helpful" reason why she started snooping.

If I remember it correctly, she starts once she realizes that Mia is involved with Bebe's.  Of course, in the book, Mia is not the instigator of Bebe's lawsuit, so Elena's suspicion of Mia comes much later.

I finally watched the finale and I hated it because of how they changed it from the book.  As I said in the episode thread, Lexxie, Tripp, and Moody starting the fire just seemed ridiculous to me.   I also felt the show missed a huge point by not having Elena alone in the house when the fire started as that was quite powerful in the book.

I think what bugs me most about the ending is that it was so obviously a grab for a second season.  Honestly, I hate it when they try to extend the series past the book.  It is perfectly fine to just have the story of the book.  I actually quite like Reese Witherspoon, but I find it strange that this is the second time she has done it.  I may be paranoid and/or giving her too much credit, but it almost seems like she finds a books she likes and then gives it the TV treatment so that she can extend it past book and then make the story hers and not the author's.

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11 hours ago, CurlyATX said:

Is it bad that I'm pleased that Mia spilled the beans about the abortion? That is one thing I really wished happened in the book, though I admire Mia's classiness. 

Totally agree, that was a satisfying change. I also enjoyed the confrontation between Elena and Bill. I just liked seeing Elena get shit on. 🙂 

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21 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

I finally watched the finale and I hated it because of how they changed it from the book.  As I said in the episode thread, Lexxie, Tripp, and Moody starting the fire just seemed ridiculous to me.   I also felt the show missed a huge point by not having Elena alone in the house when the fire started as that was quite powerful in the book.

What was the ending in the book? Who set the fire?

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2 hours ago, LeGrandElephant said:

What was the ending in the book? Who set the fire?

Izzy set the fire.  The other kids were all out of the house at the time.

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The book was fine - it's not going to be one of those that sticks with me, but I didn't feel pissed off that I wasted time with it. Maybe I shouldn't have read it while watching the series, but I can't quite figure out why all the changes. The book and the show varied significantly in the portrayal of the three main female characters.

My take on the book was that Mia was set up as this flawed, yet generous, wonderful bohemian artist. Book Mia is asexual; show Mia has sex in the car while baby Pearl sleeps and was her professor's partner. In the end, book Mia generously left a very personal picture for each Richardson, something meaningful or insightful; show Mia basically foraged through the house and took their personal belongings (and for what purpose - we never know, other than Izzy's feather). Book Elena was happy on her very deliberate path that she set for herself while show Elena had angst over the road unchosen; book Elena had a pretty frightening experience with her final pregnancy while show Elena simply didn't want the last baby. Book Bebe was legal, had a pretty good job in San Francisco that she left for her boyfriend, which is where things went bad for her; show Bebe was poor and undocumented and apparently only suited to wait tables in Chinese restaurants.

So why make things more complicated? Even though the book wasn't great literature, the story as it was was compelling enough. Izzy did not have to be struggling with her sexual identity and Elena didn't have to be suffering a midlife crisis to add to this drama - their relationship was fraught enough as it was. Why did Bebe have to be a constantly struggling illegal? Wasn't postpartum enough? I was okay with them adding a bit of an edge to Mia - otherwise she was a little too awesome - but they went too far with her, imo.

I've seen that there's been discussion about what we're "supposed" to feel/think, whose side we're "supposed" to be on in all of this, but in the end, it was all so mixed up that I ended up not being on anyone's side, other than maybe Izzy. I don't think all the changes made from the book helped the series and if a second season is what they had in mind, it wouldn't pull me in to watch.

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4 hours ago, Maysie said:

My take on the book was that Mia was set up as this flawed, yet generous, wonderful bohemian artist. Book Mia is asexual ...

I really would have liked to see them keep her asexual. There are so few asexual characters on TV.

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Disappointed by some of the changes from the book. I loved the book but so-so on the series. The kids setting the fire was ridiculous. I didn’t hate Elena confessing. Why have Bebe end up in Niagra Falls? What was wrong with her flying to China like in the book? I didn’t even like May Ling crying because in the book part of what was so upsetting for Linda was that the baby didn’t make a sound. 

I didn’t see the point of Mia telling Elena about Lexie if Lexie was going to confess anyway. 

Some things I didn’t mind like Elena’s fling with Jamie or giving Bill more material. 

I preferred the book treatment Pauline Hawthorne’s prints but it I didn’t hate the changes in the series. 

Overall, I think they did the book justice enough. But as usual, the book was better. 

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On 3/20/2020 at 12:09 PM, CurlyATX said:

I'm going episode by episode but I'm now not sure I even want to finish!  I'm really irritated by the contempt Mia seems to have of everyone.  Her face always looks like she smelled someone's farts.  And she has a chip on her shoulder.  In the book, she seemed way more fluid and her interactions just seemed to sort of happen (Bebe and May Lin for example). 

Agree. I thought Mia was dismissive and snotty to Elena when they were looking at the apartment. I didn’t find her unlikable in the book so I’m not sure what they’re doing here. It felt like they switched the roles. Even the way Mia emphasized she is an “artist.” There was no need to be so superior and condescending about it. 

I wonder why they decided to change the race of Mia and Pearl for the book. I guess I’ll have to see how it plays out, but I hope it doesn’t change the entire slant to make this story about racism. 

I like Reese Witherspoon well enough but I’ve seen her in these types of roles too often. IMO it would’ve been more interesting if she had played Mia. 

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31 minutes ago, Sweet-tea said:

I wonder why they decided to change the race of Mia and Pearl for the book. I guess I’ll have to see how it plays out, but I hope it doesn’t change the entire slant to make this story about racism. 

Someone said upthread (I think) that Celeste Ng had wanted Mia to be African American, but didn't feel that she could accurately write an African American character, which is why Mia and Pearl are of somewhat ambiguous ethnicity in the book.

Personally, it isn't so much that they are African American in the show.  I just feel like the race issue is so big that it minimizes other issues that Ng had written so well in the original story.  I mean, it isn't as if racism is absent from the book--we have it addressed in a much smaller way with Lexie and Bryan.  And I don't really mind that it was brought more to the forefront here, except that it (and other added elements, such as Izzy's sexuality) crowded out parts of the story that I thought were really crucial.

Also, I just didn't like the way Mia was written and/or performed in the show and I don't think that actually has anything to do with Mia's race.

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