Now here’s a ballsy move: FX and IM Global are developing a TV adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut‘s revered novel Cat’s Cradle with Fargo creator Noah Hawley at the helm. Hawley will write and executive produce the Cat’s Cradle limited series, which might either be the worst idea ever or something very special in the making. Historically, Vonnegut adaptations have failed to achieve the greatness of the source material (though admittedly that’s a pretty high bar) with the 1972 Slaughter House Five film adaptation still standing as the reigning champ.
However, if there’s anyone who can pull off adapting an idiosyncratic tone without resorting to mimicry it’s Hawley, who nailed the seemingly impossible task of adapting a Coen brothers movie to series with aplomb. Fargo has only improved with its second season, proving Hawley’s talent as a writer as he refines the strengths of the first season, giving the series even more of an individual identity without ever loosing track of its Coen roots.Likewise, if there’s a network to see a Vonnegut adaptation to its best incarnation, that network is probably FX where they’re constantly turning out some of the most compelling and daring series on television.
Cat’s Cradle is Vonnegut’s fourth novel, and along with Slaughter House Five is one of two the author himself rated as an A+ work. Released in 1963, the book follows a narrator named John whose life is intertwined with the adult children of Felix Hoenikker, a fictional founding father of the atomic bomb and the inventor of ice-nine — a military funded scientific breakthrough that freezes water at room temperature and can destroy the world with a single drop. Through John and his interactions withe the Hoenikker family, Vonnegut explores religion, science, war, technology and the folly of the human condition with his trademark irony and satire. And that’s exactly where I think Hawley might be able to deliver on a Vonnegut adaptation in a way that others have yet to achieve; he knows how to find the line of humor in the bleakest and most unexpected places. The highlight moments on Fargo are the ones that take place right between a laugh and a sob, and that bitter humor is an essential component of Vonnegut’s prose.
This will be Hawley’s third collaboration with FX where the Peabody, Golden Globe, Emmy, and a whole bunch of other awards-winning Fargo is currently airing its second season. Hawley is also attached to write and executive produce an adaptation of the Marvel comic Legion. While admittedly, the initial reaction to the phrase “Cat’s Cradle adaptation” is a wince and a cringe, “Fargo TV Series” sounded like a pretty awful idea at first too, and look how well that one turned out.
What do you guys think? Excited to see if Hawley and Co. can pull it off? Any other Vonnegut works you think are primed for an adaptation? Sound off in the comments below.