Last fall, Bravo Television announced a move to add scripted programs to their full plate of reality television. Among the shows in development announced was a series based on The Darlings, a book of New York City opulence amid the 2008 financial crisis which was published to strong reviews last year.
In the book. Christina Alger doesn’t start with the money, she starts with the fear. Having many things means having a lot to lose and Alger’s characters are up so high there is no where to go but down. It’s a rarefied world but one crowned with a dark cloud of doom. She layers on the foreshadowing so heavily that the reader’s empathy might just top their envy. This bodes well for a series which will have to sustain interest over multiple weeks. The name of the family as the Darlings may be confusing for fans of the old ABC show, “Dirty Sexy Money” and there are certainly some similar characters including a scheming patriarch, a beautiful but brittle matriarch, and plenty of lawyers of varying morals.
The book takes place in a single Thanksgiving weekend and follows multiple characters all connected to the same event, the suicide of a hedge fund manager, whose death has the power to collapse a house of cards. Alger has a background in law and finance and any reader who has thoughts that this might book be chick lit will be quickly dissuaded by the amount of financial and legal know-how on display.
The luxurious details are all correct and a namedropper’s delight. since this book came out last year it has been compared to Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Like Wolfe, Alger is a chronicler of important minutiae from the proper schools such as Spence, Groton, and of course, Harvard, to the more sensory descriptions such as the panoramic view from a Manhattan conference room.
Although the book itself is perhaps more geared to a movie adaptation than a series given its short several-day span, the characters themselves will doubtless provide plenty of fodder for exploration by the series writers. Look for the characters of handsome attorney Paul Ross and his lawyer wife Merrril Darling, to lead the series. No word yet on casting but given the success of many nighttime dramas lately, Bravo would be smart to cast some known talent.