Sofia Coppola has revealed that her Apple TV+ adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel The Custom of the Country has been axed due to its unlikeable female protagonist.
The Oscar-winning director told The New York Times that she was initially set to develop the project as a five-hour limited series but the streamer tightened its budget because executives didn't like its main character, a young social climber named Undine Spragg.
"The idea of an unlikable woman wasn't their thing," Coppola said. "But that's what I'm saying about who's in charge."
Madison McGaw/BFA.com/Shutterstock Sofia Coppola
Representatives for Apple TV+ did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Published in 1913, The Custom of the Country follows the Spragg family as they move to New York with the hopes of marrying off their daughter, Undine, to a wealthy suitor. There, the nouveau-riche debutante meets Ralph, a lawyer and poet, who becomes the first of her many lovers on her never-ending quest to conquer high society.
Coppola, who penned a foreword for the book as part of a recent Random House reprint, previously praised Wharton's novel and addressed Undine's divisiveness in a LitHub piece published last year, noting it was men in particular who seemed to have a problem with the character.
"As I've worked on adapting it into a screenplay, I've found it interesting to hear some men say that Undine is so unlikable, while my women friends love her and are fascinated by her and what she'll do next," she wrote at the time. "We've all seen her before, the way she walks into the room, her focus on men, and her ease with their gaze. We admire and are annoyed by her. While I've often worked on stories with more sympathetic characters, it's been so fun to dive into Undine's world and pursuits."
Coppola concluded, "There's never been a character I've loved and disliked so much, and who makes me smile at all the Undines we know."
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