At last, ‘The Dirty Girls Social Club’ is coming to TV
It’s taken a while — like a decade — but “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” the best-selling book by former Boston Globe reporter Alisa Valdes, is finally headed for TV.
The cable network Starz announced this week it’s developing a series — a “dynamic and sexy half-hour series,” no less — based on Valdes’s book about a group of Latina alums of BU who live in New York City.
Keep in mind, the book, which Valdes started writing while a reporter at the Globe in the late ’90s, has been in development three times before. But reached Tuesday in Albuquerque, where she lives with her son, Valdes says this time is different.
“There’s no guarantee until the cameras are rolling,” she said. “But I’m surrounded by a great team and I’m with a network that really gets what I’m doing.”
What she’s doing is telling a story that hasn’t been told on television before.
“The book was successful because it was the first time many of my readers — hispanic readers who live in the United States — had seen their lives reflected in pop culture,” she says. “The stereotype is the downtrodden immigrant story. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with a society that thinks that’s all you are.”
“The Dirty Girls Social Club,” published in 2003, was an immediate success and spent 21 weeks on The New York Times’s bestseller list. Valdes, who graduated from Berklee College of Music, said the story about six young Latinas 10 years out of college, was inspired by her time in Boston. (Although the book was set in the Hub, the show will take place in New York.)
Valdes said previous attempts to develop a series failed for a variety of reasons. In 2010, for example, NBC was working on a pilot, but Valdes was critical of the script. Writing on her blog at the time, she said the network had turned her tale of empowered Latinas of varying races, religions, and political beliefs into “a tale of four uniformly ‘brown’ Latina sluts and their white non-slut friend and black-n-sassy fat negress diva stereotype friend in San Francisco.”
Ligiah Villalobos will be the showrunner for the Starz series, and executive produce along with Anne Thomopoulos, Lucia Cottone, and Valdes, who’ll also be a paid consultant on every episode.
“It’s taken a while because nobody wants to be the first to do something that’s not been done before — not necessarily because they’re prejudiced or want to perpetuate stereotypes, but because they want to play it safe, continue to do it the way it’s always been done, and to make money,” Valdes says. “The struggle has been to say, ‘Look, you’ll make money on this.’ This is a show about people. It’s universal story.”