“The Shining Girls”: A Review Except I Actually Read The Book

*WARNING: This article contains spoilers for not only the book “The Shining Girls”, but also the show. It also contains my personal opinions about both of them and my, apparently, extreme criticisms.*

About two months ago, at the recommendation of my sister, I read a book called “The Shining Girls”, and I loved it. I quickly grew attached to all of the characters, and I recommend that if anyone can read it, do. So, naturally, after hearing the news that a show would be released, I was excited. Overjoyed, in a way, to be able to see the characters I had quickly grown to love appear on the silver screen. But after watching just the premier episodes I have come to the conclusion that this show is not only lacking in the ability to be in any way interesting or make sense, but also is an interpretation so disastrous, that is on par with that of the Percy Jackson series.

First, “The Shining Girls” is a fantastic novel by Lauren Beukes about a girl named Kirby and the man who tried to kill her. Through the events of the novel we weave through time itself. We meet multiple women, only to read as they are brutally murdered, from the 1920’s all the way to the 90’s. That might sound suspicious, how could a man be waddling around successfully killing in his 60’s? Well, that’s another huge plot point, ladies and gentlemen I present to you: A time-traveling serial killer! Yes, using his time traveling house (not joking) he tracks down his victims in the past, only to visit them in the future to brutally murder them.

Now that you’re all caught up, onto my review. First of all, they cast Elizabeth Moss as Kirby. And Elizabeth Moss is a famous actress, but it does appear that she only plays the silently tortured women, so after hearing that she was cast as Kirby, I thought she might have reach. But, I have now discovered that she simply cannot play anyone but the silently tortured woman. And that is the exact opposite of the character she was cast for. Because Kirby was a character that flipped the usual trope of an attempted murder victim. Instead of spending her time looking over her shoulder into the shadows for the mystery man and running from her past. Kirby actively tried to find him, and tried hunting him down. And a huge point was that she was stuck in the past, that she wouldn’t move on until she killed him herself. The show just turned her into a stereotype, took away a lot that made her an interesting and compelling character. She was described as having a big nose, big red hair, and a big personality. She was a 20-year-old looking for vengeance. And, we love equality and we love a #girlboss, but Elizabeth Moss is not a 20-year-old, nor can she play a 20-year-old. And it hurts to watch her walk down the street saying “Bye mom” while pulling on her walkman in her god-awful clothes.

It’s not just changing her character to match the acting abilities of Elizabeth Moss, it’s that they changed incredibly important parts of the book, adding things that not make any sense whatsoever but also not even being entertaining in any way or form. Having things change unexpectedly and randomly almost on a daily basis on the show. Even though we traveled through time and in a random way that only made sense to the killer/ time traveler. It is frustratingly obvious that the writers of this god-awful show took the bare bones of the plot in the book and added whatever the hell they came up with for the show. But I will recognize that film adaptations, even good ones, always stray slightly from the small details in the book. Because in books, small details that don’t push the story forward and can stay as those small details. But in tv shows and movies, everything needs to end up pushing things forward. But there is nothing in the book about the previously stated point, and one of the absolutely amazing things about this book is that we know that there could be more. It could be improved upon if done right, that we could see our soon to be murdered girls more, or that we could have had an episode per girl, being able to actually know them. Or maybe anything else, anything except for the litter-covered pizza slice we were given.

In the end, I, unfortunately, cannot tell any of this to the actual writers, producers or anyone that could help this show. Though I don’t think this show could be saved. And though everyone in this show is not doing a great job at their damn job, (except for Jame Bell, who plays the murderer Harper. He is doing a great job, no notes, the only good part of the show. And I am including the part where the show ends, because the relief is only short-lived, because you know in the end that you spent time watching that utter garbage.) At least at some point, this will end, but I will scream in rage once this eventually gets nominated for an Emmy.