Warning: This story contains spoilers for Netflix’s “One Day.”
David Nicholls’ 2009 novel “One Day” has seen two screen adaptations in the 15 years since its publication. First, there was the 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, and now, a Netflix series starring up-and-coming actors Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall.
The miniseries, which dropped on the streaming platform Feb. 8, makes no bold departures from the original novel. The story follows Emma and Dexter’s decades-long relationship, spotlighting where they are in relation to the world and each other on the same day each year — July 15. The days bring life, love and yes, a very notable, and controversial, ending.
Many fans know how the story goes — including how it tragically ends — but they’re still watching, even if it goes against their better judgment.
Strong feelings about the 2009 novel and 2011 film
The film received criticism for Hathaway’s version of a Yorkshire accent and for keeping the book’s controversial ending, which, spoiler, sees Emma die young, shortly after she and Dexter finally manage to make their romance work.
Fans who’ve watched the 2024 Netflix adaptation say the new miniseries lives up the story’s legacy of breaking hearts.
“I’m going to be sick. This adaptation was every bit heartbreaking and beautiful as the book,” one person said on X.
“The film completely ruined me the first time I watched it. But man, I wasn’t prepared for what the series did to me! One Day on netflix is a must watch but guard your heart,” another wrote.
“Pressing play knowing it’s going to shred my heart into pieces all over again,” a fan added.
Others said they planned to sit this adaptation out because of how they felt after earlier iterations of the story.
“I cannot and will not put myself through watching the #OneDayNetflix limited series because I very much remember the pain and devastation I felt after watching the movie version,” one person wrote.
“I was tricked me into reading this book once you’re NOT getting me again,” one person wrote, responding to a Netflix tweet promoting the show.
When it came to the film’s ending, Nicholls, who wrote the 2011 screenplay, told Vulture that he didn’t feel any pressure to give the characters a happily ever after.
“You need to do something shocking, or else it’s just a ‘will they or won’t they’ story of best friends who could be something more, and that’s the oldest story there is,” Nicholls said in 2011.
A ‘hopeful’ angle to the show’s conclusion
While many viewers knew the tragic twist was coming, some say they were still caught off guard.
“they are so happy right now full of life projects and they’re so in love i try to enjoy it even though I know what’s coming,” another wrote.
The miniseries stayed true to the original ending, though the executive producers said they considered changing it.
“I interrogated it fully. I felt that was necessary,” lead writer and EP Nicole Taylor told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t feel under any pressure to change the ending or to keep the ending. I just wanted to reinterview it for its place in the piece.”
Nicholls however reframes what critics have called an evocative “trick” by pointing out the idea of a “death day” was the “starting point of the novel.” (The show makes this thesis clear with the addition of a new scene of Dexter and Emma at Christmas the first year they met. More on that here.)
“That was always the premise. It’s a novel about someone’s death day, but you don’t tell them because none of us know,” Nicholls told the outlet. “And so it’s always been central to the premise.”
Thus, the cycle continues, breaking first-time viewers hearts all over again.
“THE ENDING?? Who put rom com under one day are u actually kidding crying myself to sleep,” one person said on X.