When adapting her bestselling novel Sweetbitter into a television series, Stephanie Danler knew she needed to think big. In the novel, which was published in 2016 and partially inspired by Danler's experiences working at New York's Union Square Café (and other fine-dining restaurants), we follow 22-year-old Tess, played by Maleficent's Ella Purnell in the TV version, as she receives a whirlwind education in sex, drugs, and oysters at a fictional Manhattan establishment. It's also over in a year -- presumably Starz, the premium cable network currently airing the first six episodes, would like to see the show run for many seasons. This isn't a single-course meal.
"If we were making a totally literal adaptation, we would run out of story," Danler says during a recent interview in Starz's midtown offices. "But one of the goals is to be able to go home with any of the characters. There really is endless story." With the hope of exploring every square inch of her fictional world, Danler told Thrillist all about turning her book into a show, finding the perfect Tess, and why the series just had to be set in 2006, the moment right before the iPhone ruined everything.