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TV Show Review: 11.22.63 (Hulu Original)

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11.22.63
Hulu Original Mini Series
★★★★★

I just gotta talk about this down-right amazing 11.22.63 show right now.

This mini series was just…. It was incredible. I would say “I don’t have the words to express how amazing this show is,” but let’s be honest here: I’ve got about 1,000 words to say about this show. But first, let’s start with a brief synopsis.

Synopsis: On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated during a presidential motorcade in Dallas, TX. In 2016, Jake Epping goes back in time to stop this from happening. But time doesn’t want to be altered. And when you try to change the past, the past pushes back.

Note:
Some spoilers ahead.
Specifically in the third paragraph under Jake & Sadie.
If you want to avoid spoilers, skip that section!


The Mini Series

First off, having this be a mini series rather than a TV show or movie was the smartest possible decision the creators could have made. I’d give anything for more mini series to exist (The 10th Kingdom, anyone?). I mean, there’s no good way to fit a 1,120 page novel into a two-hour movie. And turning it into a TV show just means it most likely will run for at least a few seasons, the writers will have to start making stuff up once they run out of source material, it’ll go on way longer than it should just to make a buck, and the story would be ruined in the chaos.

But a mini series… 8 hour-long episodes. It’s the perfect length to tell the full story without dragging it on for too long. The substance is still all there, with the pacing going as it should for the perfect effect. Though I haven’t read the book, I can’t imagine much was left out due to this decision. If there was much left out, it certainly didn’t feel like it. It moved at exactly the right pace, and the atmosphere and emotions this specific pacing elicited was truly amazing. I can’t imagine it being done any other way without it resulting in something far less than what it is now.

The story itself is rough and brutal and appalling at times, but hey, so is real life. And the show itself? The show is beautiful, and heartbreaking, and incredible, and omg I just loved it so much.


The Story

Can I just say, I am very surprised at how this story played out. Knowing this show was based on a Stephen King novel, I was expecting horror and probably gore and definitely a good helping of foul-mouthed characters. But I was pleasantly surprised! I’m honestly still in shock of how different this story was compared to the other King stories I’ve been exposed to. Misery, IT, The Shining, Gerald’s Game, that one about the guy who get cursed by a gypsy and can’t stop losing weight… But 11.22.63 is on a whole other level.

I’ve enjoyed King’s work, but I’m not normally one for horror and gore. I’ve only watched a few of his novel adaptations, and the only book of his I’ve actually read is Misery. If it’s up to me, I’ll always choose a comedy or something lighthearted to watch. Reading’s a bit different — I do read more dark books than watch dark movies. But if it’s really gory, I’m done. And that’s what I was expecting going into this: the typical King flick. If it would have stayed more on the horror side, I don’t know if I would’ve finished it. I probably wouldn’t have, considering I almost stopped after one specifically hard-to-watch scene early on, but the story itself was so good that I decided to push through. Definitely a good decision on my part.

It does get a bit gory in parts, but nothing too extreme (they insinuate more than show for the worst of it), and the story absolutely overrules the gory bits. The story and the characters more than make up for it. And man, those characters. They’re just all so perfect in their own way. Really masterfully crafted. From Oswald to Deke and Miss Mimi to that poor guy following Jake around and being pretty creepy for a while but ultimately being a truly heart-breaking character… I just got so attached to so many of them. Man. Not sure if you guys know this (I’m just learning this myself, honestly), but Stephen King’s pretty good.


James Franco / “Jake Epping”

I’ve always liked James Franco as an actor, but I had no idea he could get to the level he gets in this show. My idea of a truly great actor is when someone who’s largely well-known (like Franco) can make you completely forget who they are and lose yourself in their character. That’s only happened to me two or three times that I can remember, but a few episodes into 11.22.63, I caught myself saying, “Oh wow, I totally forgot that was James Franco in here!” He does such a fantastic job with his character that Jake becomes so real. I didn’t feel like I was watching a TV show. I felt like I was actually watching someone’s life. He just portrays Jake so well, and he seems so at ease in the 60s, too. Like he belongs there.

Speaking of Jake, oh gosh, what an amazing character. The way Franco delivers the passion, the anger, the done-with-ALL-your-shit attitude that Jake has at times (specifically when defending/protecting Sadie) is beyond perfect. There were a couple of moments where I doubted Jake’s intelligence (less conspicuous bets, man, come on!), but he sure is one hell of a guy. He stands up for what he believes and who he loves, and he takes the most important things to heart. He will take it personally, and he will fuck you up for it. I love it. Go get ’em, Jake!


Jake & Sadie

I don’t even want to talk about Jake and Sadie (as I proceed to talk for ever about them). I’ve never fallen so hard in love for an on-screen couple before. These characters are just the epitome of perfection, and though I’m not happy with everything that happened with them in the end, I know it couldn’t be any other way. But, of course, that doesn’t stop me from being heartbroken.

The way these two acted towards each other was just silver screen worthy. Like, old school Hollywood. Softly lit, black and white Hollywood. With Jake and Sadie belonging with each other, totally and completely. And Jake trying everything in his power to keep Sadie safe and loved and protected. And Sadie being that absolute flower of a soft-spoken but proud—and strong—Texas schoolteacher. Ugggh, I just can’t handle it. They’re so perfect, and so perfect for each other ❤

It breaks my heart how they had to end, but guys. It had to happen that way. It just had to. Sadie had to die in every loop, because that was the least heartbreaking route to take. If she had lived and they had succeeded, Jake would have to go back to the present to make sure everything worked to change the future. Which means, Sadie would either have to go with him (possibly screwing up time in a pretty big way) or be left behind. Now you tell me: would it be harder to lose someone to death, or have to willingly leave someone you love deeply, knowing you’ll never be able to see them again? That’s assuming Jake isn’t a complete idiot and doesn’t opt for the “take her with you and hope it doesn’t screw time itself up” option.

Anyway. Point is. Jake and Sadie are the most perfect couple, and none will surpass them. But oh, it hurts to think of them 😦


Final Thoughts

I could go on and on and ON about this show, but I’ll save the (longer) essay for another time. I just have too many feelings about it, and I won’t be able to stop if I keep going. I just had to express how amazing this show was. Like, on the same level as Mindhunter, if you’ve seen that. Mindhunter is hands-down one of my favorite shows, and 11.22.63 is on the same level. So good. So, so good.

Now the question is, do I want to read the novel? Honestly, I’ve never been concerned about this before, but I’m scared the novel will ruin Jake and Sadie for me. James Franco and Sarah Gadon are just so perfect in those roles, and I just don’t know if their novelization counterparts will live up.

If you’ve read the novel and have seen the mini series, what do you think about them in comparison? Are Jake & Sadie just as perfect? Should I give it a go? Will I swoon?

9 thoughts on “TV Show Review: 11.22.63 (Hulu Original)”

  1. Awwww I adore your review!! I watched this when it first aired on TV and I fell in love instantly! You’ve said everything perfectly, exactly how I was feeling! ❤ I do want to read the book though, as I have a feeling there's at least a bit more in there, but of course I'll imagine the characters from the show. 🙂 If the novel turns out worse, I'll just watch the amazing series again. There are only a few TV moments that broke my heart completely, and this series contains not one, but two – Jake + Sadie, and the Janitor's story. 😦

    P.S. If you're wondering what to watch next – go for King's Castle Rock. 😉

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    1. Ahhhhhh I just love it so much!!! Thank youuuu ❤️ I love that you loved it too! A friend of mine (a King fanatic) just told me that he thinks Jake and Sadie are EVEN BETTER in the books! I’m definitely gonna read it when I find a copy. I need more!

      I actually started watching that immediately after finishing 11.22.63, haha! I liked it okay, but it was also super confusing. I only watched the first episode. The bf just wasn’t feeling it lol. I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching it, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh well that sounds awesome! I want to read it too, though it’s one of the longest books on my 2000+ tbr. :S But I will one day!

        Haha cool, my bf isn’t feeling it either, so I continued by myself. 🙂 It is super confusing, I’m watching each episode twice, but things start to unravel along the way, definitely worth it!

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      2. Yeahhh it is super long. My friend said it’s one of his top 5 favorite King books, though! I definitely want to check it out.

        Hmm maybe I’ll give it another go. It is super interesting, being set in the King universe!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep. :/ But I’m ready to face the challenge haha. 😀 It’s amazing that King writes such diverse books, like you said you were expecting gore and horror, there’s something for everyone, and all kinds of horror in this world, and King puts them together perfectly. 🙂

        Let me know if you do, and what you think, by episode 7 I became an ultimate, die-hard fan. 😀

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