The Netflix UK series One Day offers a fresh take on the romance between Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew 13 years after the first film adaptation was released. Ardent fans of David Nicholls’ beloved novel have already declared the Netflix series a superior adaptation compared to the Anne Hathaway film.
The story spans twenty years of friendship and missed opportunities between Emma and Dexter, checking in every St. Swithin’s Day (July 15th) to catch up about their careers, families, and love lives as their will-they-won’t-they love story persists. All this happens as the two friends transition from youth to adulthood.
Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall deliver potent performances, embodying the characters of Emma and Dexter perfectly. Mod’s portrayal of Emma brings depth to the character, highlighting her growth and vulnerabilities throughout the series. Woodall captures Dexter’s emotional mess of a heartthrob perfectly, flitting between his charming bravado, his vulnerability, and eventual redemption.
However, the series adaptation differs from the film adaptation in more ways than one. Each episode of the series centres on one year in Emma and Dexter’s lives. In contrast, the film, constrained by its two-hour runtime, had to condense certain chapters, omitting crucial details such as the first day they spent together, Emma’s affair with the headmaster at her school, her career frustrations, and Dexter’s struggles with alcoholism-induced career setbacks.
The episodic nature of the series allows for a richer exploration of the supporting characters. But here are five more differences between the series and film adaptations of One Day.
Five differences between the film and series adaptations of One Day
The series has a more diverse cast
The Netflix series introduces a more diverse cast, with Ambika Mod portraying Emma, who is of Indian-British heritage. Additionally, characters like Emma’s best friend, Tilly, and her Parisian fling, Jean-Pierre, are played by Black actors, offering a more inclusive representation of the world.
Emma is bolder with Dexter in the film
Mod’s Emma is afforded a more gradual arc in the series. Her interactions with Dexter differ significantly between the film and the series. While Hathaway’s Emma is more comfortable stripping down in front of Dexter, be it on their first night together or their Grecian holiday, Mod’s Emma is far more shy.
Emma and Tilly’s friendship gets more time in the series
Tilly’s role is significantly expanded in the series. We get a better idea of her close bond with Emma, as they remain each other’s confidante throughout their lives.
Amber Grappy’s Tilly helps flesh out the character better in the series, even though her character was largely absent in the film.
Emma’s death is dealt with differently
Although the cause of Emma’s death remains the same across both adaptations, the circumstances differ ever so slightly. In the series, Emma’s fatal accident occurs in the pouring rain while biking to meet Dexter.
Unlike in the film, where Hathaway’s Emma meets with an accident as she is driving out of an alleyway, in the series, Emma is diligent in checking both sides of the road before making headway, driving home the casual cruelty of her death.
Dexter’s life after Emma
The series provides a more comprehensive exploration of Dexter’s grief and recovery following Emma’s death. Unlike the film, which implies Dexter’s isolation, the series has his support system rallying around him, as everyone from his father to Tilly and even Ian shows up for him.
In the book, Dexter ends up dating his cafe manager, Maddy. Even though we see her character briefly towards the end of the 14-part series, Dexter is given the grace of finally having evolved enough to be able to deal with his grief on his own instead of relying on a string of girlfriends and alcohol.