Binge The Outsider, the best Stephen King adaptation in years

3 July 2020

Binge The Outsider, the best Stephen King adaptation in years

All 10 episodes of the hit HBO series The Outsider, based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, are now available to binge on Showmax. 

Police detective Ralph Anderson (Golden Globe nominee Ben Mendelsohn from Bloodline and Ready Player One) is still grieving the death of his own son when the mutilated body of 11-year-old Frankie Peterson is found in the Georgia woods. 

When his prime suspect, Terry Maitland (Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman from Ozark, who also directs the first two episodes), is seemingly in two places at once during the murder, Ralph brings in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo, nominated for two Oscars and two Golden Globes this year for Harriet) to help explain the unexplainable.   

The critics’ choice

The Outsider topped IMDb’s Most Popular Show list earlier this year and has an 82% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As AVClub says, “Gripping and gruesome, The Outsider is one of the best Stephen King adaptations in years.”

“Gripping and gruesome, The Outsider is one of the best Stephen King adaptations in years.”

AV Club

The Outsider averaged nine million viewers per episode across all platforms during its USA run – “the best performance for a new HBO drama series since the first season of Westworld in 2016,” according to Variety. The finale had 2.2m first-day views across all platforms, an 83% increase from its premiere – an HBO record which Variety says hints “at the incremental, word of mouth nature of its success.”

“One of the forms of fiction that has always fascinated me is the detective story but I thought to myself, ‘I can take it a step further and introduce the element of the supernatural,’” says King, whose books and short stories have become some of the top-rated films of all time on IMDb, like The Shawshank Redemption (#1), The Green Mile (#29), and The Shining (#61). 

“I had the idea for a long time to write a story about a guy who was in two places at the same time and how that could possibly happen,” says King. “What really turned my dial is I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to have a protagonist here who has skin in the game, who has a reason to really hate this guy, and who jumps the gun and brings him in before he understands the whole landscape of this case.’ I wanted to have this guy find out little by little that the man he’s arrested for this murder has a cast-iron alibi in another place.” 

“There are some damn strange things in this world of ours,” King continues. “What always interests me in stories like this is how does a person cope with the unbelievable? How does a person deal and keep their sanity in a situation that doesn’t seem to have any rational explanation?” 

The cast includes Oscar nominee Mare Winningham (The Affair) as Ralph’s wife Jeannie; Emmy nominee Bill Camp (The Night Of); BAFTA winner Paddy Considine (In America); Critics Choice nominee Julianne Nicholson (Masters of Sex, I, Tonya); and Screen Actors Guild nominee Yul Vázquez (Russian Doll). 

The series is written for television by Richard Price (The Wire, The Night Of), who also serves as executive producer. “You couldn’t ask for a better adaptor,” says King. 

“The Outsider is a struggle between faith and reason,” says Price. “Holly is pre-inclined to believe the unbelievable but she is matched up with a seasoned detective who believes in science, forensics, witness statements and evidence. The struggle is: Holly has to convert Ralph’s lifelong empirical training to believe in something he’s never been able to believe before.”  

King says, “Holly is one of the most interesting characters in my entire lexicon” and TV critics have been equally impressed by Erivo’s interpretation of her, with Rotten Tomatoes calling her the “series standout”, The Guardian saying her “performance is so good it slaps you awake” and Richard Roeper from The Chicago Sun-Times predicting that both her and Mendelsohn “should be remembered come next awards season cycle.”

The Outsider has a 7.9/10 rating on IMDb. Slate says, “The Outsider offers terrific performances, beguiling yet careful storytelling, and no shortage of genuinely terrifying moments.” CNN calls the series “Riveting… A taut, noir-ish thriller.” And Consequence of Sound hails it as “The True Detective season we’ve all been waiting for… This is appointment television, the kind you want to keep talking about, the kind you want to keep solving.” 

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