Jeffrey Eugenides, the author of The Virgin Suicides, is about to have one of his other bestselling novels receive an adaptation — this time on the small screen. Eugenides’ coming-of-age novel meets immigrant drama Middlesex is being adapted into a TV series by Paramount Television Studios, with Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson set to helm.
Variety broke the news that Paramount TV has acquired the TV rights to Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex following a competitive bidding situation. David Manson, who has an overall deal with Paramount TV and has written for Netflix’s Ozark, Bloodlines, and House of Cards, has been tapped to write the series while Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, Nowhere Boy) is on board to direct.
Eugenides is best known for writing The Virgin Suicides, which went on to become an acclaimed Sofia Coppola film. But Middlesex, which was published in 2002 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003, is far more ambitious and Herculean than his quiet deep dive into the mysteries of adolescence. Loosely inspired by aspects of Eugenides’ life and his Greek heritage, Middlesex is an intergenerational family drama that follows three generations of Greek-Americans descended from a brother and sister who immigrate from their tiny village to Prohibition-era Detroit. The title refers to the street where the family eventually move to in suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan, but also to the protagonist Calliope “Cal” Stephanides, who discovers that he is intersex, despite being raised as a girl. Middlesex is a fantastically epic piece of historical fiction, and a pretty okay coming-of-age story — the first half of the novel, which follows Calliope’s grandparents as they immigrate to America, is much stronger because of its basis in Eugenides’ personal family history, which it’s clear he put a lot of research and thought into.
With the plot as grand as it is, Middlesex is better off as a TV series, and previous attempts to adapt it have understood that. Middlesex was previously in the works as an HBO series in 2009. No network or streaming service has yet attached themselves to the Paramount TV project.
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