What has been years in the making, Showtime announced in summer 2019 that Philipp Meyer’s first novel will be adapted to screen as an American Rust TV series. The show, which will simply be titled Rust, does not yet have a premiere date or an estimated episode count.
Jeff Daniels will star as police chief Del Harris and also executive produce the show. Dan Futterman, who collaborated with Daniels on the Hulu miniseries The Looming Tower back in 2018, will also executive produce and write multiple episodes for the American Rust TV series.
Philipp Meyer’s American Rust — his first novel, published back in 2009 — tells the story of a small, fictional Pennsylvania steel town in the downtrodden years that followed decades of a flourishing economy. Through the perspectives of six characters — all friends or family — Meyer explores this forgotten Rust Belt region through stream-of-consciousness prose that has often been compared to William Faulkner.
Described as both a family drama and a mystery, the interwoven, conflicted lives of these characters are upended when Poe, a former star football player at the local high school, is accused of murder. Daniels’ character, Harris, is then put into a complicated position as the man who both runs the police department and has fallen in love with Poe’s mother.
I first read this novel in a class at the University of Michigan called Rust Belt Narratives back in 2011. And I am glad that I did, because it quickly became one of my favorite books (along with Meyer’s second novel, The Son). With over 8,000 reviews by the time the American Rust TV series was announced, the Goodreads average rating was 3.7 out of 5 stars, which, while respectable, in my opinion is still low. I gave it a solid 5 stars and have read the book several times over the years (and I will definitely read it once more before the series debuts).
My expectations for this new American Rust TV series are high, which is seldom a positive. Unrealistic expectations often lead to disappointment. But back in 2017, when AMC adapted Philipp Meyer’s The Son into a two-season TV show, I was surprised by how closely the series tied to the book. Given that success, I am confident that — as long as Meyer can be involved with the show’s creation, like he was with The Son — this new American Rust TV series will also be outstanding. Not to mention, of course, my faith in Showtime’s ability to produce quality shows — like they have with Shameless, Homeland, Dexter and many others.
Philipp Meyer reads from American Rust: