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How Apples Never Fall Went from Bestselling Novel to Hit Series

Peacock’s bingeable new limited series began as a page-turning thriller from the author of Big Little Lies.  

By Henry Block

Liane Moriarty has built her career and her devoted fanbase by writing twisty, page-turning, emotional thrillers that deftly weave domestic tensions with life-or-death stakes. It’s no surprise then that her ninth book, 2021’s Apple’s Never Fall, became a New York Times Bestseller and was recently adapted as a critically acclaimed limited series on Peacock. 

The story centers on the seemingly picture-perfect Delaney family. Former tennis coaches Stan and Joy have sold their successful tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. While they look forward to spending time with their four adult children, everything changes when a wounded young woman knocks on Joy and Stan's door, bringing the excitement they've been sorely lacking. But when Joy suddenly disappears, her children are forced to reexamine their parents' so-called perfect marriage as their family’s darkest secrets begin to surface.  

Apples Never Fall isn’t Moriarty’s first book to be adapted for television; her books Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers were also turned into hugely popular limited series. Given the success of her previous adaptations and the popularity of the source material, excitement was high for Peacock’s Apples Never Fall

@haleypham Another win for the book girlies! Streaming now on Peacock @Peacock #applesneverfall #Peacockpartner #booktok ♬ original sound - Haley Pham

Initial reactions to the adaptation

For fans of the book, news of the adaptation was met with unmatched enthusiasm. Excitement about the new series spread rapidly across Book Tok, the community of creators on TikTok who discuss, review, and recommend new works of writing. This online community has revolutionized the way people find new books, replacing traditional institutions with real word-of-mouth recommendations. Since Apples Never Fall was already such a popular book in the world of Book Tok, readers waited anxiously for the show to drop on Peacock. 

Creator @TV_Friend said that she was “super excited” because she’s a “big fan of Liane’s work,” and @haleypham said she was looking forward to the show because she “always [wants] to watch something that was a book first.” 

@kierralewis75 Besties I have a new binge worthy show for us to check out! Streaming now #applesneverfall only on @Peacock #peacockpartner #booktok ♬ original sound - Kierra Lewis

From beloved book to captivating series

It’s always a nerve-wracking experience as a fan of a book to see it adapted to the screen, especially for a book as beloved as Apples Never Fall. Since they’re such different media, a TV show can never be 100% faithful to a book, but you never know just how much the new show will diverge from the original story.  

Luckily, fans never had to worry about this book-to-screen adaptation, since Apples Never Fall was always in great hands. Showrunner Melanie Marnich (The OA, The Affair), knew from the beginning that, in telling this story, it’s not enough to just capture the twists and turns, but it’s also crucial to get to the heart at the center. Marnich wasn’t only drawn to “the riveting and twisty mystery” in the story’s plot, but also the “wit, wounds, yearning, and complexity” of the Delaney Family.  

Apples Never Fall

“I’ve never been able to resist a story that feels like an immersive vacation from life... and yet is deliciously about life,’ said Marnich. “Ultimately, Apples Never Fall is a very honest show about what it means to be a part of a very complicated family. Which is every family, right?”  

While certain aspects of the book were changed to better suit TV — like changing the setting from Sydney, Australia to Palm Beach, Florida — the adaptation was faithful, and fans loved the way the show captured the tense family dynamic, the importance of tennis, and the show’s jaw-dropping twist. 

@newlynova …also i would take a bullet for alison brie so obviously i am tuning in! streaming NOW only on @Peacock #applesneverfall #peacockpartner ♬ original sound - lexi !!

Casting choices: from imagination to screen

Watching a TV show based on a book you love can be a big adjustment, since the characters never look exactly like how you imagined. But in Apples Never Fall, the spot-on casting came as close as it could for the creator @mariannenafsu, who said that “the casting choices were perfect compared to what [she] envisioned.” But even if the characters don’t look exactly how you saw them in your head, it’s undeniable that with the right actor in the role, a character can truly come to life on screen. 

When it comes to casting, Apples Never Fall has an all-star roster of actors telling its story. Joy, played by Oscar®-nominee Annette Bening, and Stan, played by Golden Globe®-nominee Sam Neill, capture the troubled marriage at the heart of the story with an amazing mix of realism and intensity. Their four adult children — the Emmy ®-nominated actors Jake Lacy and Allison Brie as Troy and Amy, and Conor Merrigan-Turner and Essie Randles as Logan and Brooke — play the Delaney family’s four adult children.  

@tv_friend Apples Never Fall - New mystery/family drama series streaming March 14th only on @Peacock! #applesneverfall #ad #tv #whattowatch #tvrecommendation #peacockpartner #booktok #tvseries #greenscreen ♬ original sound - TV Friend

Bringing the book to life: must-see moments 

Apples Never Fall

Peacock’s adaptation of Apples Never Fall nailed all the instantly iconic scenes from the book, bringing readers’ favorite moments to a whole new group of fans. For creator @haleypham, she especially loved how the show depicted the “scene of Stan being caught on camera, the fight between Joy and Stan, Logan and Indiria getting back together,” and of course “Troy being sassy.” For the creator @mariannenafsu, it was the way the show captured the book’s slow-burn unraveling of the central mystery that she found most compelling. She says that, as a fan of the book, she loved the way the show depicted “the clues the family discover about [Joy’s] husband and everyone else” when she goes missing.” Translating these moments from book to screen isn’t easy, but when done well, they can satisfy existing fans of the book and new fans of the show alike.  

A story for all: stream Apples Never Fall on Peacock

Apples Never Fall

Though the creators on Book Tok were already fans of the book before going into the series, they agree that whether you’ve already read Moriarty’s novel or are entirely new to the story, the adaptation of Apples Never Fall appeals to everyone due to its characters’ relatable human dynamics, and the show’s simple commitment to great storytelling.  

Speaking to the success of both the book and its adaptation, creator @Tv_friend said, “I think seeing relatable characters is important to people no matter what medium.” Here, she gets at exactly what showrunner Melanie Marnich said about what drew her to telling the story about the damaged Delaney family in the first place, that a story about this complicated family is really a story about “every family.”  

Apples Never Fall

Obviously — and hopefully! — the details of the mystery at the center of this story aren’t going to be relatable to all audiences, but beyond the juicy details of the plot, it’s these universally recognizable family dynamics at the heart of the story that draw people to Apples Never Fall, regardless of whether you’ve read the book.  

Though the show centers around the mystery of Joy’s disappearance, it’s also about living up to expectations from your parents, investigating what we owe to our family members, navigating the disillusionment that comes from entering adulthood and, later, from retirement, and of course, the difficulty of forging an identity separate from that of your parents: can apples really never fall far from the tree? 

Stream all seven episodes of Apples Never Fall, based on the bestselling book by Liane Moriarty. 

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