Shining Girls

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Shining Girls
Shining Girls title card.jpg
GenreDrama
Thriller
Created bySilka Luisa
Based onThe Shining Girls
by Lauren Beukes
Starring
ComposerClaudia Sarne
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Production
Executive producers
Production companies
DistributorApple Inc.
Release
Original networkApple TV+
Original releaseApril 29, 2022 (2022-04-29) –
present (present)

Shining Girls is an American thriller streaming television series based on the 2013 novel The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. The series stars Elisabeth Moss, Wagner Moura and Jamie Bell. It premiered on Apple TV+ on April 29, 2022.[1] A portion of the series premiered at South by Southwest on March 11, 2022.[2]

Premise[edit]

Kirby Mazrachi is an archivist at the Chicago Sun-Times. Years ago, she was brutally attacked and left for dead, but her assailant was never found. Today she is still traumatized by the assault and struggles to make sense of her reality that keeps changing. Determined to find her attacker, she discovers a murder that has a striking resemblance to her own attack. Kirby enlists the help of reporter Dan Velazquez and together they uncover several decades-old cold cases of similar murders and begin the hunt for a mysterious serial killer.

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.Title [7]Directed byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Cutline"Michelle MacLarenSilka LuisaApril 29, 2022 (2022-04-29)

The episode starts with a young girl sitting on the stairs of a house when a passerby strikes a conversation with her. This mysterious man leaves a toy with her against her wish and walks away. Then we see the same girl, now older, Kirby (Elizabeth Moss), living with her mother, noting down details about her daily life, and harboring a plan to move to Florida. We see her going to her workplace – Chicago Sun-Times. While she is working on a not-so-important job at this news publication, we meet Dan (Wagner Moura) who is working as a reporter. He is following a recent criminal case for his next story where he comes across Kirby who shows interest in the pursuit of finding the culprit. He thinks that she is doing it just to raise her level of job profile, but she reveals how the girl assaulted in the case (Julia) has similar marks as hers (from the time when she was brutally attacked) and that makes her want to pursue it. After this conversation, they start investigating the case together.

To confirm the details about her marks (to make his story more fact-driven), Dan takes Kirby to a medical examiner. While she starts examining marks on the body, Kirby suddenly realizes the examiner is not a woman but a man. This becomes the second instance from the episode that shows Kirby’s disorientation. Through the examination, we get to know that her claim about the marks is indeed true. While we follow this investigation on one side, we also meet Jin-Sook (Phillipa Soo) who works at the local planetarium. She gets a visit from Harper (the mysterious guy who meets the young girl, who looks hardly aged). There are a few links in their encounters that connect Kirby’s case with hers. Towards the end of the episode, we see Jin-Sook getting strangled by him. The scene intercuts to Kirby, going back to her building and knocking on the wrong apartment door. Within a few moments, she goes into the place where she actually stays and we get to know that she lives with her colleague, Marcus.
2"Evergreen"Michelle MacLarenSilka LuisaApril 29, 2022 (2022-04-29)
We find out that Marcus and Kirby are married and that she does not live with her mother. On the investigation side, we see that Kirby tells Dan about how the killer left something in her body, and if the same has happened to Julia, there the killer may be the same. Dan goes to the crematorium and finds truth in her belief. Kirby wishes to be an anonymous source for this case. Meanwhile, he learns that this is not her actual name, which makes him question the viability of her claims. As a result, he confronts her about the name (Sharon Leads) change and gets to know the reason. They get on the same page and start investigating again. When both of them go to Julia’s house, Kirby finds a tape recording that reaffirms her notions that their killer is the same. Meanwhile, Dan comes across Harper, who appears to be an interested passerby. In the end, we see Harper sleeping on his bed with a greenish-tinted outline on his side.
3"Overnight"Daina ReidAlan Page ArriagaApril 29, 2022 (2022-04-29)

Dan is unconscious inside a metro, with blood dripping down his hand. We see him trying to make sense of his present situation and then going back to his house. He sees his books shuffled and puts them back into the actual place. Meanwhile, we see Kirby going through several computer files in the office and finding leads for the investigation. She collects several cases that were not closed. Abby meets her and speaks to her about Dan’s drinking issues and to be beware of the same. While Kirby confronts Dan about it, he tells her not to believe in everything that Abby tells her about him.

Later, they proceed with the investigation while going through the physical pieces of evidence of non-closed cases, that had similarities with her and Julia’s cases. While Kirby makes a case to Dan with the help of connections, Dan says that they would not help since these are the police records that they were not supposed to have. However, it starts off their investigation in the right direction. During that time, he finds her notebook and asks her about it, where she reveals her mental condition. After this discussion, when they are not at home, Harper gets inside the house and finds the evidence that they were looking at. He quickly leaves the place. Meanwhile, Kirby follows a lead and goes to the local planetarium where she finds out that the person she is looking for, still works there. Jin-Sook (from the 1st episode) meets her while heading out and Kirby shows her the photo of the keys she brought with her (the one that belonged to Jin-Sook). Then she mentions the names of other victims and asks if she knows either of them. Being confused by the weird queries, Jin-Sook walks off.
4"Attribution"Daina ReidKatrina AlbrightMay 6, 2022 (2022-05-06)
5"Screamer"Elisabeth MossKirsa ReinMay 13, 2022 (2022-05-13)
6"Bright"Daina ReidNaledi JacksonMay 20, 2022 (2022-05-20)
7"Offset"Elisabeth MossStory by : Alan Page Arriaga
Teleplay by : Alan Page Arriaga & Naledi Jackson
May 27, 2022 (2022-05-27)
8"30"Daina ReidSilka LuisaJune 3, 2022 (2022-06-03)

Production[edit]

In May 2013, ahead of the novel's release, Media Rights Capital and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions acquired the rights to develop Lauren Beukes's The Shining Girls for television.[8]

In July 2020, Apple gave a series order for Shining Girls, with Elisabeth Moss announced to star. The adaptation was created and written by Silka Luisa who is executive producer and showrunner. Moss and Lindsey McManus are executive producers under Moss's Love & Squalor Pictures. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are also executive producers under Appian Way Productions. The novel's author, Lauren Beukes, and Alan Page Arriaga are also executive producers.[9] In February 2021, Wagner Moura joined the cast, with Jamie Bell joining in May 2021, and Phillipa Soo joining in July 2021.[10][11][12] In August 2021, Amy Brenneman joined the cast of the series in a recurring role.[13]

In May 2021, it was reported that Moss, Michelle MacLaren, and Daina Reid would direct the first season, with MacLaren set to direct the first two episodes, Moss set to direct another two episodes, and Reid set to direct the remaining four.[14]

Principal photography began on May 24, 2021, and concluded on October 27, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois.[15]

Differences from the novel[edit]

In Beukes' novel, the story is told from the point of view of each of Harper's victims. Show creator, Luisa made Kirby the principal protagonist and told the story through her eyes. Luisa felt that focusing on a single character's point of view made the show more compelling. She said, "With one character you see all the puzzle pieces ... You're sort of going through this maze with Kirby and discovering the mystery along with her."[16]

While Beukes downplayed the character of Harper in her book, Luisa fleshed him out a little to make him more intriguing. She was careful to keep him out of the limelight, but said "[h]is humanness made him almost more unsettling."[16] The show's interpretation of how time works is slightly different from that in the book. Luisa said that she imagined time as being a string that Harper moved up and down on. The closer he is to the top, the more Kirby is affected by his actions. Luisa explained that survivors remain connected to this string, and Shining Girls "is about cutting that string."[16]

Luisa stressed that she never changed the book's message. "I think Lauren [Beukes] has a very specific worldview on grief and trauma that she presents and carrying that forward was really important."[16]

Executive producer and lead actor, Moss remarked that unlike the book, in Shining Girls Kirby and Dan do not become romantically involved. Moss said that an eight-episode TV show is not enough time to adequately develop a love subplot. She added, "If you’re going to do it, we really wanted to do it well", and so instead they chose "to hint at it, and the possibility of it" rather than allow it to evolve.[17]

Other differences between the show and the book have also been reported. In the show, Kirby is ten years older than in the book, and her position at the Chicago Sun-Times is an archivist rather than an intern. In the book the staff at the newspaper know of her attempted murder because they ran the story, whereas in the show Kirby changed her name from Sharon Leads to Kirby Mazrachi in order to keep her assault a secret.[4]

The shifting realities that Kirby experiences in the show, her desk at work changing position, her cat at home becoming a dog, discovering that she is married, do not occur in the book. Some of the details of Harper's victims are different. Julia Madrigal is killed in 1990, not 1984, and she is connected to Leo, Harper's friend, who is a new character created by the show. The items Harper leaves in his victims are also different. In Kirby's case it is a matchbook, whereas in the book it is a monogrammed lighter.[4]

Release[edit]

The series premiered on April 29, 2022, on Apple TV+.[1]

Reception[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 83% approval rating with an average rating of 7.1/10, based on 41 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Shining Girls' time-bending conceit often induces a headache instead of thrills, but Elisabeth Moss' superb performance gives this mystery a riveting center of gravity."[18] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 65 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[19]

Before the series premiere early reviews noted Moss’ performance as a highlight on the show.[20]

Nick Nafpliotis of AIPTComics gave the series a positive review, writing that it will appeal to "both die-hard book fans and those going into the story with fresh eyes."[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cordero, Rosy (February 4, 2022). "Elisabeth Moss, Up Next With 'Shining Girl,' Says She'd Be Open To A Rom-Com Role Next". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  2. ^ "Shining Girls". SXSW. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lay, Stephanie (April 17, 2022). "Shining Girls Cast and Character Guide: Who's Who in Apple's Thriller Series". Collider. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Fraser, Emma (April 29, 2022). "Shining Girls: four differences between the book and the Apple TV Plus series". What to Watch. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Chatterjee, Pramit (April 29, 2022). "Shining Girls Episodes 1, 2 & 3: Recap And Ending, Explained – Is Kirby Aware Of The Shifting Realities?". Digital Mafia Talkies. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Shining Girls / Bright". TVMaze. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  7. ^ "Shows A-Z – Shining Girls on Apple+". The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys; Lewis, Andy (May 31, 2013). "Hot Book 'The Shining Girls' Acquired by MRC, DiCaprio's Appian Way (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  9. ^ Petski, Denise (July 23, 2020). "Elisabeth Moss To Star In & EP Apple's 'Shining Girls' Thriller Series; Leonardo DiCaprio To Exec Produce". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 26, 2021). "'Shining Girls': Wagner Moura To Star In Apple's Thriller Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (May 10, 2021). "Jamie Bell Joins Elisabeth Moss in Apple's 'Shining Girls'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  12. ^ Cordero, Rosy (July 22, 2021). "Phillipa Soo Joins Elisabeth Moss In Apple's 'Shining Girl' Thriller Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (August 23, 2021). "'Shining Girls': Amy Brenneman Joins Elisabeth Moss In Apple's Thriller Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  14. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (May 24, 2021). "'Shining Girls': Elisabeth Moss, Michelle MacLaren & Daina Reid To Direct Apple Thriller Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  15. ^ "Film and TV Projects Going Into Production - Shining Girls". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on April 10, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d Carlin, Shannon (April 29, 2022). "How AppleTV+'s Shining Girls Compares to the Book". Time. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  17. ^ Roots, Kimberly (June 3, 2022). "Shining Girls Finale: Here's Why the Series Diverged From the Book's Ending". TVLine. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  18. ^ "Shining Girls: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  19. ^ "Shining Girls: Season 1". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  20. ^ Travers, Ben (March 13, 2022). "'Shining Girls' Review: Elisabeth Moss Anchors an Enthralling Apple TV+ Mind-Bender". IndieWire. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  21. ^ Nafpliotis, Nick (April 18, 2022). "'Shining Girls' review: a reality-bending thriller". Retrieved April 29, 2022.

External links[edit]