‘Shining Girls’: Apple TV+ Series Puts Elisabeth Moss Inside Another Psychological Thriller

Elisabeth Moss’ latest crime thriller Shining Girls debuts on Apple TV+ on April 29. Learn more about the book that inspired the series, plus what Twitter had to do with inspiring the book, and our review of Moss’ performance in Shining Girls

[SPOILER ALERT: Mild spoilers ahead for The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes.] 

Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Moura in 'Shining Girls'
Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Moura | Apple TV+

‘The Shining Girls’ book inspired the Apple TV+ series 

The Apple TV+ series follows the plot of Lauren Beukes’ 2013 novel The Shining Girls. Like Beukes’ writing, the series zig-zags across various years. Set in Chicago, the mystery-thriller follows the evolution of Kirby Mazrachi’s (Moss) strange relationship with her attacker Harper (Jamie Bell). In a case too unfathomable to understand, Kirby must take matters into her own hands to stop a killer who has been attacking women for decades.

Twitter inspired the time-traveling killer who goes after Elisabeth Moss in ‘Shining Girls’

Typically fans of crime thrillers want to know if there’s any truth to the story. The same can be said of Beukes’ killer Harper — did a real serial killer inspire his character? 

Jamie Bell as Harper, the time-traveling serial killer in 'Shining Girls'
Jamie Bell | Apple TV+

“I got the idea on Twitter,” the author revealed in an interview with Lightspeed Magazine. “I was messing around … and I threw it out in the middle of a conversation. It was banter with a random stranger that I should write a book about a time-traveling serial killer. I was like, ‘No, wait! … that would be amazing. I could do something really fun with that.'” 

Elisabeth Moss plays another compelling trauma survivor in ‘Shining Girls’ 

We’ve seen Moss play women forced to overcome men’s violence in other roles inspired by books. She played Cecilia, a woman being stalked and gaslit by her seemingly deceased husband in the 2020 thriller The Invisible Man inspired by the H.G. Wells story.

Then there’s Moss’ portrayal of June Osborne in Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In the science fiction series, June lives a dystopian future where a predominantly male totalitarian regime rules the Republic of Gilead. 

Apple TV+’s Shining Girls is another example of Moss’ ability to portray a woman who has been pushed to the brink far too long. The smart, capable Kirby knows very little about her attack, making her an open wound (literally and figuratively.

However, with reporter Dan Velazquez’s somewhat unwilling help (Wagner Moura), she starts to put together a case. While details of her attacker make very little sense even to Kirby, decades of women have been tormented by Harper and she intends to stop it. 

‘Shining Girls’ doesn’t dive deep enough into ‘The House’  

Shining Girls is a captivating story and the casting is top-notch, but something is missing when it comes to the “how” of it all. Suspension of disbelief is a given, considering this story is fiction about a time-traveling serial killer. Still, there’s never any justification behind why “The House” came to exist. 

A character in and of itself, “The House” is how Harper (and others) can move throughout space and time. It’s where he finds his list of “Shining Girls,” another plot point Beukes’ book addresses but one that’s missing an explanation in the series.

Regardless, Shining Girls is worth the watch, especially for Moss fans. Shining Girls premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, April 29, 2022.

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