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Why Hulu's Nine Perfect Strangers Changed Ben And Jessica's Ending From The Book

Nine Perfect Strangers Ben and Jessica look disturbed.

Nine Perfect Strangers, Hulu's limited series based on the novel of the same name, recently released its finale, putting a bow on the stories of the Tranquillum House guests following their respective drug-infused journeys to transformation. And while some big plot diversions from the book were utilized for the streaming drama, the series came back together in the end to give each character their version of a happy ending in a similar way to what author Liane Moriarty had written for her nine strangers — except for married couple Ben and Jessica.

The Hulu series showed Melvin Greg's Ben and Samara Weaving's Jessica Chandler realizing that their relationship issues were caused by a lost sense of purpose following the financial windfall of that lottery win. They renewed their marital vows and took over Tranquillum House from Nicole Kidman's Masha. However, the book featured a different fate for the young couple who'd sought out the retreat for marriage counseling, as Liane Moriarty wrote that Ben and Jessica got divorced after they realized the lottery money put them on different paths.

Director Jonathan Levine divulged to Insider that the original plan for Ben and Jessica was similar to the book, but it was actually creator David E. Kelley who called the audible, as he apparently grew to love the characters too much to split them up. According to Levine:

It was in the cards for a while, and then David just couldn't bring himself to do it. He grew to like them so much. He has such a love for his characters, and it's what makes him so incredible. It was really hard for him to make them break up. He really rooted for them to be together. At the end of the day, he just grew to love them too much to put them through that.

That’s really kind of sweet that David E. Kelley thought highly enough of Ben and Jessica (and the chemistry between actors Melvin Gregg and Samara Weaving) to want them to enjoy a happier ending — or at least a different one — than they were given in the source material. Because if we're being honest, Ben and Jessica’s ending in Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers wasn’t exactly terrible.

The couple still came away with the revelation that they wanted to do more with their lives despite not needing the money to be content, and they both became involved with nonprofits. Their break-up was amicable, and Jessica later auditioned to be on The Bachelor to grow her followers, while Ben went back to work. In fact, the book hooked Ben and Zoe Marconi up after Ben’s sister died of a drug overdose, and the characters bonded over the untimely deaths of their siblings.

Nine Perfect Strangers was a reunion between David E. Kelly and Liane Moriarty, as he also adapted another of her novels — Big Little Lies — into its HBO series, also starring Nicole Kidman. Kelley similarly worked with Nicole Kidman on the HBO limited series The Undoing.

All episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers can be streamed on Hulu, and when you’re ready for something else, check out these movies and series being released on Hulu in October. Also, be sure to keep up with all of the upcoming TV premieres with our 2021 Fall TV Schedule.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.