Tiny Beautiful Things is a forthcoming Hulu series adapted from a book that was culled from an anonymous online advice column. All of which might sound like a strange route to television, but Cheryl Strayed has never walked a straight path. She started writing a column under the pseudonym “Dear Sugar” more than a decade ago when she was a struggling writer trying to cobble together a living. Strayed didn’t really have the time to write for free or the authority to dispense wisdom, but she did it anyway, knitting her own gutting life experiences into empathetic and essayistic replies that quickly made her an internet cult figure.
That status was further boosted by Wild, Strayed’s memoir about her life unraveling after the death of her mother when she was 22 and her decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. While making Wild, Strayed talked about adapting Tiny Beautiful Things for the screen with Wild stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, who are both executive producers on the Hulu series. “There was so much life and story in each of these little letters that were written to me,” Strayed tells Vanity Fair. “And the letters I wrote back to people were just full of all the things I love to see when I watch television or movies—the real stuff of life.” Strayed took a swing at writing scripts over the years, and eventually Witherspoon introduced her to Liz Tigelaar, a veteran showrunner who’d worked with Witherspoon on Little Fires Everywhere. “I felt like she understood the soul of the book, and that we were going to be in good hands.”