2023 is quickly becoming the year for questionable book-to-screen adaptations. Now, we all know how difficult it can be to transfer words off a page onto our TV screens in a way that both does the book justice and appeals to a wide audience. Nevertheless, it feels as though at the moment, Hollywood studios are going through a serious flop period—the WGA writers’ strike can’t help either.
On Monday 15 May, pictures emerged of Blake Lively on the set of It Ends With Us, a film adaptation of the gen Z favourite and #BookTok hit book of the same name. It Ends With Us follows Lily Bloom, a young woman with a tumultuous past. It touches upon themes of abuse, love triangles, heartbreak, and emotional upheaval, and has been described by author Colleen Hoover as “the hardest book [I’ve] ever written.”
Hoover’s novel blew up online after publication, with netizens devouring the story and flooding TikTok and Twitter with theories, opinions, and sequel ideas. The It Ends With Us hashtag on TikTok currently boasts an impressive 21.3 million views, so it’s safe to say that the book definitely made an impact.
With such adoration comes serious expectations, and despite most of the universe being obsessed with Gossip Girl alumni Blake Lively (who will play the lead character of redheaded florist Bloom), fans definitely seemed less than impressed with the behind the scenes sneak peeks. The most intense book-fanatic criticism seemed to stem from the fact that “their” Bloom simply would not dress the way the on-set designer was clearly dressing Lively.
With such an engaged and loyal fanbase, it was always going to be an impossible task to please everyone. That being said, I do kind of get where people are coming from. The Lily Bloom we all first fell in love with was a young and spirited woman who made an immediate impression, and it’s safe to say that the crimped red hair and awfully fitted beige dress Lively has been seen in, is not giving.
How the costume designer managed to find an item of clothing that makes the actress look that bad, I don’t know, but Lively, we’re sorry sweetie, you don’t deserve that.
Replacement casting suggestions included Stranger Things star Sadie Sink and Riverdale actress Madelaine Petsch—two slightly younger natural red-heads who readers presumably felt would fit the aesthetic of the role better. And while we of course do not support ageism in any way shape or form, it does feel slightly odd that the studio wouldn’t pick a slightly younger actress to portray a 23-year-old?
We’ve seen this kind of similar reaction when the Daisy Jones & The Six miniseries dropped back in March. While a lot of the acting performances were praised, fans of the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel felt as though the looks didn’t quite do the 70s music scene justice and at times felt forced and slightly phoney. Lots of netizens referenced how the 2000 cult classic Almost Famous was far more successful at authentically capturing the decade, in both style and vibez.
One incredibly insightful user comment queried whether or not the Daisy Jones & The Six cast felt slightly off because of the fact that they all constantly looked like they had iPhone 14s sticking out of their pockets. Maybe being too technologically aware ruins actors’ abilities to recreate these kinds of time periods?
It Ends With Us, the film, is not due to hit our screens till late 2024, at the earliest, so hopefully the Hollywood internet spies will take on board all of the current criticism, and seriously shake up some of the styling choices, or… they’ll just completely ignore us which is also an entirely possible outcome.