Kindred is an American time travel fantasy TV miniseries streaming on Hulu based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel of the same name. The miniseries follows a young aspiring writer who discovers secrets about her family’s past when she finds herself mysteriously being pulled back and forth in time to a 19th century plantation.
Loosely described as science fiction, though there is no science in the narrative, Kindred has in fact been described by its author as “grim fantasy”. Something to the tune of – “what if you went back in time and met your ancestors?” The critical difference for our protagonist Dana, is that she is an African-American woman and such time travel involved high risk, in effect, the loss of liberty and even her life.
There is no scientific explanation for why Dana time travels, she just does – so get that out of the way from the beginning. When the miniseries begins, Dana has sold her grandmother’s house in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles to be nearer to her father’s sister Denise. Then the time traveling begins and initially, it seems like a dream, but obviously after a few incidents, Dana figures out what is happening to her.
Eventually, Dana meets her mother Olivia – believed to be dead in a car accident but actually pulled back in time as well – and also inadvertently brings back new friend Kevin into the past. There, Dana and Kevin have to acquaint themselves with the dynamics of the Weylin plantation – the owners and the slaves – and determine what has to be done to ensure Dana’s survival in the present.
Yes, we realise that that sounds very much like Back to the Future, and there are elements of that though not clearly stated. While the premise is intriguing, the execution is somewhat muddled as the typical ‘slowburn’ flaw of modern TV also infects Kindred. Worse still, for what is supposed to be a miniseries, there is no proper conclusion and the final episode ends with a cliffhanger! How unsatisfying! Now what?
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