Storyteller and archivist of this lovely little world we live in
From its eclectic, likable cast to the perfect millennial-pink branding, “Sweetbitter” has been poised to take over spring watch lists across the board since the announcement of the series was made last year. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Stephanie Danler, the series will follow the wide-eyed Tess as she leaves behind an empty, lonely hometown for the throbbing lights of New York City.
Perhaps for this very reason, notable New Yorkers have voiced their love for “Sweetbitter” since the novel’s release in 2016. The most celebrated of fans, for instance, include Sarah Jessica Parker (who chose the novel for her book club), Emma Roberts (called Danler’s novel her “new favorite book”), and Eva Longoria Parker, to name a few. With the series’ arrival, we’re willing to bet that fan club will only grow.

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The story itself was never new. Young, impressionable girl hits the mother of all cities with a few bucks in her pocket and a vague idea of a dream. She finds a mentor or two, gets wrapped up in drugs and alcohol, falls head over heels for an earring-wearing, scruffy-bearded bartender with a smooth talking voice and a touch just soft enough a young girl just might think she can save him. If it all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been told many times, yet we never tire of it.

The iterations of coming-of-age stories are innumerable, yet our propensity to continue finding ourselves inside of them sustains their relevance, keeps them necessary.

Danler’s novel is rich with prose of life, love, and– above all– food. As Tess takes on an all-encompassing job as a backwaiter in a big time restaurant, not only is she exposed to a social life careening off the rails with color, but she also finds a new world of taste and flavor that proves unforgettable. Some of that rich language is difficult to translate onto the screen, meaning it will be interesting to see how the series (also written by Danler) will manage to visually bring life to the feelings that, in the book, rolled over the reader in pummeling waves.

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The pilot episode premiered on Starz every Sunday evening, introducing viewers to the wild ensemble that will color the series in the coming weeks. From a reader’s standpoint, the cast members do appear to be spot-on with their literary counterparts, just as the restaurant looks as though pulled directly from the pages of Danler’s novel.

The fact that the setting is New York City in 2006 lends a cultural comment to the storyline as well. It’s a much needed respite from technology-crazed plots; there are no iPhones, no incessant buzzing.

The characters live in a bubble of pre-technology enslavement– those beautiful days when we still printed off directions from mapquest and somehow managed to coordinate plans without a group text or FaceTime.

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Whether the series can maintain its allure and prove to be different from a thousand tales of new beginnings in one of the world’s most tough, most precious cities is yet to be determined. With a creative such as Danler and a network such as Starz at the helm, however, we have good reason to believe it can.


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