Thursday, Starz released the trailer for Sweetbitter, their adaptation of Stephanie Danler's novel about 20-something foibles in a New York City restaurant. The Gossip Girl-esque tale follows Tess (Ella Purnell), a 22-year-old who moves to NYC and immediately takes a job at a restaurant. Restaurant work in Manhattan is notoriously difficult — just ask Edward Frame, who wrote a New York Times opinion editorial about the experience — and Tess quickly finds that waiting tables isn't exactly passive work. ("Waiting" is the wrong word. When you serve, you are dogged by the feeling that you're just two seconds behind where you should be. When it comes to restaurants, there is never enough time.) In the trailer, Tess drops a plate, destroying a perfectly good steak in the process.
"You know nothing about service," Tess's boss Howard (Paul Sparks) tells Tess in a Miranda Priestley-esque tone. "You know nothing about wine."
These are lessons Tess will have to learn swiftly if she wants to thrive in NYC. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, right? I forget who said that.
Danler's book, her literary debut, earned her a six figure publishing deal as well as a nice spot on USA Today's bestseller list at #32. Danler wrote the book over a 7-year period while she was working in some of Manhattan's best restaurants. The restaurant in the book is based on the Union Square Cafe, Danny Meyer's upscale spot near Union Square, and when Danler sold the book, she was working at Buvette, an upscale West Village brunch restaurant where you can pay $16 for scrambled eggs with goat cheese.
"I feel like there aren’t enough female coming-of-age stories," Danler told Vanity Fair about her decision to write the book. "Then I also had this knowledge base in restaurants, and this intimacy with this kind of specialized world that not everyone had access to."
The result is an almost smutty takedown of the restaurant industry, replete with a love triangle and vicious boss. Sweetbitter arrives on Starz on May 6.