Did Peacock’s Apples Never Fall Honor Liane Moriarty’s Novel?

Australian author Liane Moriarty is known for her layered characters, complex family dynamics, and intriguing mysteries. After the success of her book-to-screen adaptation of Big Little Lies on HBO in 2017, she’s been in high demand.

In 2021, Hulu adapted another novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, which expanded on the characters’ arcs from the book. It became a hit because of the humor in the series.

Peacock’s Apples Never Fall combines the best of both, but it was most like the book and a fun, binge-worthy watch. I couldn’t stop watching because I couldn’t wait to see the next twist.

Apples Never Fall Cast Photo

Apples Never Fall explores the complexities of marriage and family when you peel back the layers. This isn’t a cookie-cutter happy family. The Delaneys are raw and honest, but they love each other deeply.

It was one of the best book-to-screen adaptations because the series allowed the characters to be developed more in their own episodes while other characters were featured in the background.

Apples Never Fall Vertical Key Art

What is the Premise of Apples Never Fall?

Peacock’s Apples Never Fall focuses on the Delaneys, whose family appears perfect, but that facade drops when the matriarch Joy (Annette Bening) disappears. The title refers to how apples or children never fall far from the tree, meaning how similar they are to their parents.

Apples Never Fall Interviews Reveal the Crux of the Delaney Family Mystery

The series explores how closely the Delaney children mirror their parents’ good and bad habits over the seven episodes. When the series begins, Joy is missing, and the children are panicking because she calls them daily.

Stan keeps lying to them about her whereabouts, and then there’s this mysterious visitor — Savanah — who landed on the Delaneys’ doorstep when they had an empty next. As the story goes back and forth in time, we learn more about the Delaneys and Savannah (Georgia Flood.)

Annette Bening on Apples Never Fall

Did Apples Never Fall Honor the Characters from Liane Moriarty’s Novel?

Of course, there are differences in the characters from the novel, but most didn’t matter and worked in favor of the series, especially when the character arcs were fleshed out.

In the novel, Joy was obsessed with getting all of her children married and becoming a grandmother. She still was over-involved in Brooke and Gina’s and Logan and Indira’s relationships, but she had softened around the edges.

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She cared more about her children being happy than if they were producing grandchildren.

Stan Delaney instilled competition as a way of life on and off the court, but when he saw the damage it did to his children, he also softened. He had more layers in the series, mainly because of Sam Neill’s acting. He genuinely loved his children, even if he didn’t always show it.

Seeking the Elusive Smile

Alison Brie also did a wonderful job portraying Amy. Part of the time, she seemed like a yoga guru, and others, like she was fighting her depression and anxiety. It was so raw and honest, and no one seemed to understand her other than Joy.

Logan (Conor Merrigan-Turner) played the carefree son. He worked at the marina, and his girlfriend, Indira, was tired of him catering to his family instead of prioritizing their relationship. That was a huge part of the book.

Here’s where things get dicey. The series kept Troy’s attitude the same. Jake Lacy did a fantastic job combining both anger at his dad and empathy for his siblings at the proper times. His best scene is when he comforts Brooke after she cheats.

The problem was no one cared about Troy’s added storyline of cheating on his boss’s wife. It added nothing to the plot.

Accepting Bad News

Brooke was also not like her character in the book. She was engaged to Gina instead of getting a divorce from Grant. Then, the series wrecked that by having her cheat on Gina, who actually supported her and helped her save her physical therapy practice.

The siblings fought more in the series but were realistic sibling rivalry interactions, such as telling your parents a sibling’s secret. Watching Amy think she could mend fences with a bottle of wine like that had worked before was fun.

Joy’s Disappearance Caused the Family to Choose Sides

When Joy disappeared, battle lines were drawn as the two oldest, Amy and Troy, wondered if Stan could have hurt their mom. The younger two, Logan and Brooke, practically worship their dad and hunt for another suspect, landing on an unwanted guest, Savannah.

It’s all about perspective. Troy harbored resentment towards Stan for showing favoritism towards the Delaneys’ star tennis student, Harry Haddad. He refused to help Logan buy the tennis academy because he didn’t want Logan to become a cheap imitation of their dad.

Jake Lacy on Apples Never Fall

Troy and Logan also had different perspectives of their father walking out after fights. Logan thought it was preferred if Stan cooled off, but Troy remembered the younger kids being terrified if their dad was ever going to return.

Some of those experiences probably caused Amy’s anxiety and depression, which only Joy understood. It made sense that Amy felt more of a kinship with her mom.

Brooke was a totally daddy’s girl until the end. She was the one that stood by Stan until she was provided with hard evidence to the contrary. It broke her to not stand by him.

What’s Missing from the Novel for the Series to Succeed?

While book-to-screen adaptations must stand independently for new audiences, a few things were missing from this one.

Alison Brie on Apples Never Fall

For a great deal of the novel, the characters question their motives. That doesn’t necessarily work on television since we want to be shown things, not told, and viewers don’t want to watch many internal monologues.

However, as mentioned above, some of the Delaneys, especially Brooke and Troy, appeared more unlikeable in the series than in the book, where they expanded the context more.

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Not every character needs to be likable. Family dramas need conflict to thrive, but it took me over half the series to invest in Brooke’s character because she played the snarky know-it-all and lashed out at Amy frequently.

It wasn’t until she met her own demise that  rooted for her to pick herself up.

Brooke Pouts

Did the Central Mystery Resolve?

Technically, there were two mysteries. One dealt with learning Savanah’s identity and why she landed on the Delaneys’ doorstep; the other revolved around Joy’s disappearance.

Naturally, they were intertwined, and that’s the book, and the series flashed back and forth between “then and now” sequences.

Both mysteries end with a twist, but the Savannah reveal should have occurred earlier in the series.

In the book, when the Delaneys are ready to kick her out, Savannah reveals that she’s Harry’s forgotten sister and how Joy ruined everyone’s lives by sending Harry and their dad away for coaching. In the series, Joy admitted her mistake to resolve a fight between Stan and Troy.

The Change Agent

Joy ends up being ostracized by her entire family when she tries to have Stan give them the same attention he showered on Harry. It was understandable why she needed time to regroup, feeling like no one appreciated her.

It just felt like the central mystery held so much back, too, since it almost felt like a letdown after Stan had been charged with murder and the children thought she was dead. It’s similar to a Gone Girl vibe, but Joy didn’t plan the sinister idea.

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She was an overworked matriarch who felt underappreciated. It would have helped to have one more episode to devote to Joy and the aftermath of her return and one for Savanah and her mindset, making it a total of eight episodes.

Right now, specific contexts feel underdeveloped.

Overburdened Joy

Hopefully, since Apples Never Fall was billed as a “limited series,” this was the end.

Both Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers received additional seasons after their first seasons were based on the source material. The ratings for Big Little Lies Season 2 fell.

Even though Moriarty helped by penning the additional seasons, it’s not the same as using the original material.

While we’d love to know how the Delaneys fared after Joy returned or if Savannah ever resurfaced, we’re unsure if there’s enough drama for more seasons.

The Delaney Siblings

Sometimes, it’s best to end it as a binge-able limited series and let viewers’ imaginations figure out alternate endings.

What did you think, TV Fanatics?

Did you think Apples Never Fall honored Liane Moriarty’s novel? Did you find the competitive sibling dynamics realistic?

We want to hear your thoughts, so let us know in the comments below.

Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.

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