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Uglies: 9 Things From The Book The Netflix Adaptation Needs To Include

Scott Westerfeld's 2005 novel Uglies was acquired by Netflix in 2020 with The Kissing Booth's Joey King as executive producer. King will also play Tally Youngblood, the main character who lives in a post-scarcity dystopia like The Hunger Games. The book was followed by three sequels - PrettiesSpecials, and Extras - which would make for great movies if Netflix decides to continue the franchise.

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Uglies is set in a world where citizens are considered "ugly" due to their natural looks. Every citizen is expected to go through plastic surgery when they turn 16 to become a doll-like Pretty, at the expense of their bodily autonomy. The book contains lots of dynamic worldbuilding and character moments, but some things are essential to include if the movie is to be successful with fans.

9 Social Commentary

The government provides everything for its citizens, and in return, the citizens are complacent about their status in life. After becoming a Pretty, the citizens have their autonomy stripped away. From a young age, the government teaches its citizens that becoming a Pretty is the only option, even making up textbooks that erase and rewrite history. The people are constantly monitored under state surveillance.

This commentary is crucial to include in the adaptation because it highlights the themes of the film such as ignorance and learning to question your surroundings, as many young people are starting to do today. Netflix could have its own great dystopian show like Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale with these themes that focus on compliance and oppression.

8 The Rusties

The world of Uglies is set in the remnants of our current world. The old society collapsed because the fossil fuels the "Rusties" were using became infected with bacteria, and so most forms of transportation became unusable. Since food could no longer be transported, the world fell into chaos. A new corrupt society was born three hundred years later.

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The Rusties are central characters for any successful adaptation of Westerfield's novel to include since they represent the last dregs of humanity that the Pretty government is trying to stamp out. They also serve as a warning to our current society that our reliance on fossil fuels is coming to an end. Netflix should include this theme since, although it is quite dark, the young teen audience may learn from the messages that the Rusties stand for.

7 Advanced Technology

The world of Uglies is very advanced. Buildings in New Pretty Town are held up by "hoverstruts," and most of them float above the ground. Some citizens use hoverboards, hovercars, and magic-like mirrors that transform the user's image. These inventions are made possible because over three hundred years, the old structures made of metal were buried underground, and the new tech uses magnetic levitation to work.

Technology is important to include in the adaptation because it develops the theme of government control since anything that hovers has government markers to monitor and track it. Technology would also differentiate the film from other dystopian worlds since there aren't many that are as unique as the world in Uglies.

6 The Pretty Operation

In the book, the "Pretty Operation" is defined as a chance for "ordinary" citizens to become drop-dead gorgeous. It is taught from a young age to be the only way to become happy, and even children ("littlies") are expected to be excited about it. During the operation, the doctors "grind and stretch your bones to the right shape, peel off your face and rub all your skin away."

Many viewers might think it is an intriguing idea to become a supermodel-like Pretty, but Netflix should include the gory details to ensure that the message gets across properly. This operation may transform the person into someone that is considered "beautiful," but the cost is their identity. Tally's insecurities about her appearance should not be ignored, as many teens will relate to her struggles and empathize with her desire to be a Pretty.

5 Physical Identity

The Pretty Operation takes away a person's independence and ability to think for themselves. Tally believes at the beginning of the book that the operation is simply due to biology. According to her, as well as her parents and teachers, no one wants to couple up with an ugly person, so making everyone Pretty means that more people will become parents and humanity has a better chance of survival.

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Taking away features from a person, even if they are considered "ugly," in the name of making everyone the same is similar to the goal of the Cybermen in Doctor Who. Netflix needs to include this commentary as it is crucial to Tally's character arc and serves as the motivation for Shay to run away from Uglyville.

4 New Pretty Town And Uglyville

Everyone has their needs catered to in Uglyville, but New Pretty Town is definitely the place to be. The town is idolized by the uglies, who all want to move there. New Pretty Town is full of mansions and swimming pools, whereas Uglyville is neglected and modest. The government keeps Uglyville down to make New Pretty Town seem better in comparison.

Seeing both cities side by side in the film will be a great chance to show off some cool imagery and themes, and Netflix can certainly afford the effects or sets to bring both of them to life. New Pretty Town might not seem so bad, as dystopias go, but Tally soon finds out that there's more beneath the shiny surface, and Netflix should not shy away from making New Pretty Town as evil and corrupt as possible.

3 Tally Is An Original Character

Tally is more interesting than a typical YA protagonist. She is clever but has been brainwashed by the people around her to believe in the Pretty society, whereas many other protagonists question their surroundings right from the start. Tally is a trickster, and the very first thing she does is sneak out of her house to go to a Pretty party. Tally is adept at tricking people and can trick technology, using a penknife to shut down the government monitors around her house.

Keeping this personality trait in the film will differentiate Tally from other main characters such as Tris from Divergent. While Netflix might want to make Tally more of a blank slate to enable anyone to relate to her, keeping her quirks and traits is essential to creating a memorable protagonist.

2 Tally and Shay's Friendship

Most dystopian films make it about romance, like Katniss, Peeta, and Gale's love triangle in The Hunger Games, but Tally's friendships are a major part of the book and should not be taken out. Shay teaches Tally how to hoverboard and is the person who sparks the adventure Tally must go on. Tally's friendship with Shay takes her out of her comfort zone, with Shay introducing her to new experiences outside Uglyville.

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Tally's other friend is David, a Smokey that teaches her more about the world. David is a potential love interest for Tally as he allows her to open up and show a more emotional side of her personality. Yet Tally's journey doesn't need a romance to be compelling, and Netflix should prioritize female friendships to keep this franchise different from other dystopian films such as Divergent or The Host.

1 Special Circumstances And Dr. Cable

Special Circumstances is a government-controlled faction that keeps its citizens in line. Tally is recruited by the faction, starting the adventure that sends her down the rabbit hole discovering the society's hidden secrets. Portraying the Specials that run the government surveillance team will be a fun challenge, as they are meant to be superhuman and almost machine-like figures.

Dr. Cable is described as a "cruel Pretty" with a voice as sharp as a blade. Having an accomplished actress like Julianne Moore, who can expertly convey Dr. Cable's cruelty and manipulation as she has shown in some of her best movies, will be important for Netflix if they decide to make the three additional books into films as the plots become darker and Cable shows her darker side.

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