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Apples Never Fall Book vs. Series: All the Major Differences Between the Peacock Show and Liane Moriarty’s Novel

Jasin Boland/Peacock

Apples Never Fall is that perfect binge that mixes all the elements of a New York Times best-selling book (by Liane Moriarty, in this case) with an appealing cast (Annette Bening, Sam Neill, Jake Lacy, Alison Brie…) and clever, edge-of-your-seat twists. But striking the right tone for Apples Never Fall, the series, while rearranging the book format was a high-wire act only Moriarity herself (who is also an excutive producer) and showrunner/EP Melanie Marnich could have pulled off.

“Any book worth its salt is going to be a tough adaptation because of the bounty of material but also its complexity,” Marnich tells Glamour. “It was not just a narrative puzzle to solve; it was a structural problem. We had the complexity of now and then as well as different time frames, plus each character having a different point of view. Then you also have the complexity of a crime…. It was really, really rigorous story-breaking in the room, which was covered in whiteboards.”

As hard as it was, Marnich worked tirelessly to keep the series—about a seemingly normal, happy family whose life is upended when the matriarch goes missing—light enough so the viewer wouldn’t be bogged down by the intensity of the central mystery. “We have to laugh; we have to have fun,” Marnich says. “It can’t be just this harrowing thing the whole time. But you never want the funny to undercut what is scary. And in this case, with a woman having gone missing, you don’t want that funny to ever cheapen or disrespect that.”

Moriarty believed in Marnich’s vision as much as in past TV adaptations of her work (including Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers). “I have been so incredibly lucky that I’ve had wonderful adaptations,” she tells Glamour over a Zoom call from her home in Australia. “I’ve always felt that if I held on a little bit, then I would want to hold on too much. That would really be a mistake.”

When all seven episodes were completed, Moriarty was thrilled with the final product, which she says amped up the mystery and drama while “still retaining the character development and the warmth and humor.”

And as with any book-to-TV adaptation, some changes are going to surprise viewers more than others. In a Glamour exclusive, Marnich and Moriarty break down the biggest changes and explain their reasoning behind the choices. We’re warning you now: Spoilers ahead.

From left: Sam Neill as Stan Delaney, Georgia Flood as Savannah, Annette Bening as Joy Delaney

Apples Never Fall - Season 1

From left: Sam Neill as Stan Delaney, Georgia Flood as Savannah, Annette Bening as Joy Delaney
Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

The Location

The book takes place in Sydney, Australia, but the series is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. However, to confuse you even more, the series filmed in Australia’s Gold Coast.

“I love that Liane set the book in Sydney,” Marnich says. “But I don’t know Sydney or that community. What I did have a sense of was South Florida; I had spent time in West Palm.” Marnich wanted to set the series in a place that was not only visually gorgeous to the viewer but one that was familiar. “I was also always really fascinated in West Palm Beach at its juxtapositions proximity to Palm Beach. Those two places felt a world apart. I thought it was really important for Stan Delaney to have had a tennis academy that was successful. And one of his students lives in Palm Beach but never made it. I think that was part of his story as a provider, as a coach, as a man, as an ego—that he can literally go for a drive and see the place he didn’t make it to. That whole area of South Florida and West Palm is the seat of so much professional tennis training in this country.”

The Format

The book interweaves the storylines throughout, while the series is formatted so that each character gets their own episode.

“It was just really about saying, ‘How do you make a drama about so many people and have each of their individual stories clear?’” Marnich says. “What was tricky was that there was a pearl of a story for that character in that episode, but then it kept unspooling across [the episodes to be] picked up by the next character.” Marnich says that in the end it ended up being great for the actors because they could go deep on their characters for that one episode while still having a big part in others.

Annette Bening as Joy Delaney, Jake Lacy as Troy Delaney

Apples Never Fall - Season 1

Annette Bening as Joy Delaney, Jake Lacy as Troy Delaney
Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

The Reason Savannah Leaves

In the book, Savannah confesses her true identity to a suspicious Delaney clan before leaving their home. In the series, Troy pays Savannah a large sum of money to leave; it isn’t until later that Joy and the kids separately discover Savannah’s true identity.

Marnich says that decision was really about maximizing the mystery and parceling it out in the most effective way. “Think of the Delaneys as a bucket of gasoline, and Savannah drops the match,” she says. “The mystery of who she is can give us more story, so that was the choice. She tells the family [in the book] that Joy had her dad fired. That needs to be Joy. For the maximum impact, we had to give that to Joy. That is essential; Joy owes that to Troy. She also blows up her own family in admitting that and makes Savannah maybe the only safe bet after that because Savannah remains a mystery that is still a live wire, storywise, and serves us down the road.”

Georgia Flood as Savannah, Annette Bening as Joy Delaney in the first episode

Apples Never Fall - Season 1

Georgia Flood as Savannah, Annette Bening as Joy Delaney in the first episode
Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

The Note on the Fridge

In the book, Joy accompanies Savannah on an off-the-grid retreat and leaves Stan a note on the fridge explaining her whereabouts, but that note falls off and is never seen. In the series, Joy decides to go with Savannah to her home in Georgia to get away but does not leave a note for her family, especially after feeling so hurt and ignored by them.

“What I wanted was Joy to take definitive action as a reaction to what she had been through, and that definitive action after having been forsaken by her family, whom she sacrificed for for decades, was to walk out the door,” Marnich says. “She’s been ignored, she’s unseen, she’s unappreciated, and she’s had it. I wanted it to be an active decision on Joy’s part. Her leaving has to be part of her anger, her resentment, her wounds, and then her family feeling the guilt of all that. It was just a way of bringing a certain muscularity to her choice.”

Savannah and Brooke’s Hookup

In the book Brooke is married to a man; in the series she’s in a relationship with a woman and they’re planning their wedding. That is, until Brooke questions Gina’s faithfulness and sleeps with Savannah.

“That was fun,” Moriarty says with a laugh. “I loved that change in storyline in the series.” Moriarty says she actually loves seeing scenes that she sort of recognizes but are new to her as well. “I’m watching as a viewer, and if I just watch one episode, I’m thinking, Oh, what’s that great show I’m watching? Now I think, Oh, it’s actually my show. But because of the parts that I don’t know, I really love watching them.”

Marnich says in the book, Brooke and her husband are a terrible match because she has compromised her soul to be with him. (“It’s a very different story.”) Meanwhile, Savannah is the agent of chaos and has this ability to look at a family situation and diagnose the weak spots, which made a Brooke-Savannah hookup in the series too hard to pass up. “She diagnosed Brooke’s [weak spots] and made herself available to that,” Marnich says. “From Brooke’s perspective, from all the kids’ perspective, they grew up in this incredibly competitive environment where love was something you competed for. No one quite knows how to love or be loved, and they have damage. Brooke is with this incredible woman—her fiancée—but Brooke isn’t in a place where she can accept someone or something incredible, so she blows it up.” As a result, you had one of the most jaw-dropping moments of the series.

Paula Andrea Placido as Gina Solis, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney

Apples Never Fall - Season 1

Paula Andrea Placido as Gina Solis, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney
Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

The Arrest

In the book, Stan never gets arrested in the apparent death of Joy Delaney. In the series, some of the kids turn in evidence against him and he is arrested for Joy’s murder.

“The handcuffs are about to go on when Joy turns up,” Moriarty says of what happens in her book. “It’s very close.” She says the decision to have him get arrested in the series was just about adding more drama. “That’s the other thing—each episode has to have its own arc,” she says.

Marnich explains that she wanted Stan to be brought to his lowest point with the arrest. “This man who had been king of the castle, had run this very successful academy, had thought of himself in a certain way, is then brought down by this harrowing, harrowing mystery,” she says. “What’s interesting is Joy’s leaving actually opens up an opportunity for everybody to say, ‘Well, actually there’s a dark side to Stan Delaney.’ They’re not wrong. He just wasn’t guilty. I think he has to go to the point of, ‘Oh my God. The world thinks I’m guilty, and I gave them the reasons for this.’ He has to go that low for him to turn around and come out of it and have any insight and redemption.”

From left: Dylan Thuraisingham as Detective Ethan Remy, Jeanine Serralles as Detective Elena Camacho, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney, and Sam Neill as Stan Delaney

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From left: Dylan Thuraisingham as Detective Ethan Remy, Jeanine Serralles as Detective Elena Camacho, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney, and Sam Neill as Stan Delaney
PEACOCK

The End

In the book Joy and Savannah amicably go their separate ways at the end of the retreat. In the series Savannah unleashes her anger at Joy and nearly kills her in a car crash. The book ends by following Savannah and her life post-Delaneys, while the show ends focused on the Delaney family and their attempt to repair decades of hurt and anger.

First, Marnich says the decision that Joy wouldn’t be seriously hurt in the car accident was something they thought long and hard about in the writers room. “A lot of us have had car accidents where our cars were trashed, but we looked fine,” she says. “Go figure. So with Joy, we didn’t want it to be about injury. We want it to be about how her actions and this whole journey with Savannah took her to this precipice of danger. Ironically, after a whole show of thinking Stan may have killed Joy, Joy could have died in an accident.” Marnich also says she didn’t want Joy laid up in bed or people running to her in the hospital. “I wanted her to walk into her own house of her own volition. If she was injured in any way, that would’ve been really impossible for her kids to let her have it. This way, she comes in whole. Shaken up, but whole. There were a lot of conversations about it.”

What’s interesting, of course, is that Joy seemingly injures herself more on the bike than the car accident. “I know,” Marnich says. “She wipes out pretty good on the bike. Because she’s on blood thinners…well, it’s harrowing.”

After the car accident, Savannah disappears into thin air as the focus returns to the Delaney family. “This was about the story staying light on its feet,” Marnich says. “Savannah literally runs away. There were different versions, and it just felt like the air went out of it. We wanted to live with this slightly pressurized emotional through-line of the Delaneys and their progressive revelations and discoveries. Her basically saying that stuff to Joy in the car, ‘I forgive you. I hope you forgive me.’ That’s a phenomenal change for Savannah. Do I think that she’ll change her ways? I don’t know. But ironically, the car accident started her healing. Joy realizing in the car that she had a hand in the pain that this child experienced was quite bracing and affects how she goes back to her own family. But again, it was really about Savannah scampering away and disappearing, which had to do with following the emotional energy of the show where it was most alive.”

From left: Conor Merrigan Turner as Logan Delaney, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney, Jake Lacy as Troy Delaney, and Alison Brie as Amy Delaney

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From left: Conor Merrigan Turner as Logan Delaney, Essie Randles as Brooke Delaney, Jake Lacy as Troy Delaney, and Alison Brie as Amy Delaney
PEACOCK

Meanwhile, Moriarty says she’s thought a lot about Savannah since she finished writing the book. “I feel like both the series and the book left the Delaneys in a relatively happy place, whereas poor Savannah’s out in the world,” she says. Moriarity says she misses her characters when she starts writing a new book but hasn’t seriously thought about writing a follow-up to Apples. “It was based on that premise of: How would you feel if your mother went missing, and your father was accused of her murder? That what-if question was answered. The problem with doing a sequel is you have to put them through something else, and they already went through so much. As much as I would love to see them all, it wouldn’t be right.”

Jessica Radloff is the Glamour senior West Coast editor and author of the NYT best-selling book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.

Originally Appeared on Glamour