|Created by||Silka Luisa|
|Based on||The Shining Girls|
by Lauren Beukes
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Original network||Apple TV+|
|Original release||April 29, 2022 –|
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. A portion of the series premiered at South by Southwest on March 11, 2022.
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.
- Elisabeth Moss as Kirby Mazrachi / Sharon Leads, Chicago Sun-Times archivist who was attacked years ago and left for dead
- Wagner Moura as Dan Velazquez, Sun-Times reporter who helps Kirby track down her assailant
- Phillipa Soo as Dr. Jin-Sook Gwansun (Jinny), researcher at the Adler Planetarium and on Harper's hit list
- Chris Chalk as Marcus, Kirby's husband in one of her shifting realities
- Amy Brenneman as Rachel, Kirby's single mother
- Jamie Bell as Harper Curtis, Kirby's attacker and serial killer
- Christopher Denham as Leo Jenkins, Harper's friend from France during World War I
- Madeline Brewer as Klara Meiser, Harper's girl friend from after World War I
- Karen Rodriguez as Julia Madrigal, one of Harper's murder victims
This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2022)
|No.||Title ||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Cutline"||Michelle MacLaren||Silka Luisa||April 29, 2022|
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 MacLaren||Silka Luisa||April 29, 2022|
|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 Reid||Alan Page Arriaga||April 29, 2022|
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 Reid||Katrina Albright||May 6, 2022|
|5||"Screamer"||Elisabeth Moss||Kirsa Rein||May 13, 2022|
|6||"Bright"||Daina Reid||Naledi Jackson||May 20, 2022|
|7||"Offset"||Elisabeth Moss||Story by : Alan Page Arriaga|
Teleplay by : Alan Page Arriaga & Naledi Jackson
|May 27, 2022|
|8||"30"||Daina Reid||Silka Luisa||June 3, 2022|
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. In February 2021, Wagner Moura joined the cast, with Jamie Bell joining in May 2021, and Phillipa Soo joining in July 2021. In August 2021, Amy Brenneman joined the cast of the series in a recurring role.
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.
Differences from the novel
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."
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." 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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
The series premiered on April 29, 2022, on Apple TV+.
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." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 65 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".
Before the series premiere early reviews noted Moss’ performance as a highlight on the show.
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."
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