In 2011, Stephen King published a marvelous work titled 11.22.63. To give you a very brief synopsis: This book is about how a man, Jake Epping, goes back in time and attempts to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, 842 pages of pure-genius literature shows that there is more to the story than just that. This is my absolute favorite book of all time, and this led me to fall in love with Stephen King's style of writing. Since reading this book, I have read many of his novels and I have loved each more and more. However, 11.22.63 will always be my favorite.
Now, 842 pages is a lot for anyone to read, even the most avid of readers. Luckily, a few months ago, Hulu premiered its very own 8-episode event series of this book. This makes it much easier for the average person that doesn't have the time or the energy to tackle the book, to still get somewhat of the same effect. SO. Here's why you should be watching 11.22.63 on Hulu (if you really can't read the book).
1. It's extremely practical.
With only 8 episodes, averaging to about 50-60 minutes each, it is easily scheduled into your nightly routine. If you don't want to sit and binge watch it (though I can't imagine who wouldn't want to do that), you can finish the series in 8 days & get the whole effect, as if you'd read the book! Reading the book alone would take you much longer than that, so already the TV show is the perfect alternative.
2. It's extremely thought-provoking.
The premise of this story is very interesting. It stimulates the reader to think about what would be different in the world if JFK had not been assassinated. I'm definitely not a history buff, but I am interested in thinking about how differently the world would have turned out if certain events in our country's history had been different. It will not only stimulate your thoughts about this event alone, but it will get the ball rolling in your mind. You will start to think about other events and what would have been affected in the future, had these events not taken place. It could keep you thinking for hours, stimulating your mind to think about our country's history, our country's present, and our country's future.
3. There are tons of stars in it!
The casting for 11.22.63 was impeccable, starring James Franco, Sarah Gadon, and Chris Cooper. Other notable cast members are Josh Dumahel (Safe Haven, Life as We Knew It), George MacKay (Pride, How I Live Now), and for Grey's Anatomy fans ... T.R. Knight! There are other cast members that make appearances that have also been cast very fittingly. Every single cast member brings something truly amazing to this show and I believe that it could not have been cast any more appropriately.
4. It has a supernatural element.
What is a Stephen King novel without a little bit of spooky or a little bit of supernatural? The supernatural element is obviously the ability to time travel. However, a major theme in this book & show is that the past does not want to be changed. Therefore, when the main character tries to change things in the past, the past tries to stop him. The past will do absolutely anything to stop him from changing, ranging from bringing him down with the stomach flu to causing death and destruction to impede him.
5. It has a beautiful love story.
For all of you romantics out there, do not fret! Of course, in 842 pages, there has to be something else besides just going back in time to prevent the JFK Assassination. There is a gorgeous love story, and it will send you on an emotional roller coaster: from excitement to anticipation to happiness to tears. There is little more I can say about this without giving anything away. The book is able to develop the relationship between the two characters much more, but the TV show still drove me through all of those emotions too.
6. You get to see what life was like in the 1960s.
With the main character finding himself in the past, from years 1960-1963, you get to see the world as it would have been back then. The beautiful cars, worth thousands and thousands of dollars now, the old ice cream parlors, the diners, the poodle-skirts and suits/ties. You get to see the milkmen and the farmers, the shoe-shiners and the housemothers. The gas at jaw-dropping price-- really, everything at jaw-dropping prices. There is little that is left to the imagination in this regard, as they leave no details out. This was one of my favorite things to imagine while reading the book and Hulu did a superb job at showing it on screen. It met my expectations & more.
7. You learn a lot.
Even though this is a fictional book, with the time-traveling and the fact that it's a Stephen King novel, you learn so much. Stephen King researched this event and all of the details for years before writing it. He incorporated details that could only have been known from really researching this topic. He became well-versed on this subject before he felt it was appropriate to write the book. Thus, the same goes for the TV show. There are facts that you learn about history at this time that you never would have known prior to this. You learn about the political climate of the 1960s, in regards to the presidential election and the social climate of the 1960s, in regards to the civil rights movement. It is a very well-rounded piece, with information that goes beyond just the politics and beyond JFK.
8. You get emotionally attached to the characters.
Throughout the TV show, you start to empathize with the characters. You will start to root for one, despise another, love one, hate another. And then there will be scene when you will flip all your opinions at once. And then there will be another scene where you will generate a different opinion about a certain character. These characters were written with qualities that are very relatable, despite the difference in time periods and despite the difference in present situations. The main character represents the Everyman in us all, just a lone man lost in a world where he is just trying to make a difference.
9. There are tons of twists & turns all throughout the series, but especially at the end.
You would think that a simple premise, like this one, would be very straightforward. It seems like it would get boring towards the middle and then pick up a little at the end. However, 11.22.63 keeps you wanting more for the entire duration of the book and the TV show. There are so many things that happen that it will make your head spin. Some things will make you laugh, some things will make you clap, some things will make you angry, some things will make you extraordinarily frustrated, and some things will make you cry. The fact that a TV show can take you on such an emotional journey in 8 short episodes is truly remarkable.
10. You will be extremely upset when it is over.
As the final episode comes to a close, and you sit there with your box of tissues, sobbing, you will realize how much you wanted the story to go one. I remember when I first read the novel, I longed for it to have been longer. It was an 842 page book and it was not long enough. The TV show flies by even faster, and getting attached to the characters and the storyline makes you want it to go on and on. As the credits begin to roll, you are going to want to watch it again, at least just one more time, to immerse yourself in a world that was. To immerse yourself in a time that has past. To immerse yourself in the possibilities of the future. And to that, I say, do it.