Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler’s best-selling novel about a young waitress who gets swept up in the drama of the NYC food world, is getting a small-screen adaptation courtesy of basic cable network Starz.
In the first trailer for the show, wide-eyed 20-something Tess (played by Ella Durnell) arrives in Manhattan and scores a training shift at an esteemed restaurant. Our hero is immediately overwhelmed by the pace and the demands of the job, but clearly, Tess manages to tread water long enough to develop a few relationships with people on the staff. This dramatic teaser is scored from beginning to end by LCD Soundsystem’s ballad, “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.”
Before the release of Sweetbittter, Danler worked at Danny Meyer’s acclaimed Union Square Cafe as well as Jody Williams’s equally well-regarded restaurant Buvette. Some parts of the story are influenced by her restaurant work, although Danler’s real-life experience was quite a bit different than Tess’s journey in the book. In 2016, the author told the Paris Review: “I had seen these girls come into restaurants over and over again, new to the place, wanting temporary work, not planning to stay for long, then ending up staying for years, and Tess was very much this idea of the new girl that I’d seen walking in the door so often.”
Danler is writing and executive producing the TV version of Sweetbitter, while Stu Zicherman, a veteran of The Americans and Divorce, is the showrunner. Stay tuned for more updates on the production in the coming months.
• ‘Sweetbitter’ Trailer: First Look At Starz’s NYC Restaurant Drama [Deadline]
• Is That All There Is?: An Interview with Stephanie Danler [Paris Review]
• Starz [YouTube]