Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl is not your average workplace drama. Based on Zakiya Dalila Harris' thrilling satirical 2021 novel of the same name, the 10-episode television series, which drops on Hulu on September 13, centers on Nella Rogers, an ambitious young Black woman trying to make it in the competitive (and very white) world of book publishing, only to be faced with a truly horrific workplace conflict.
Nella's world is turned upside down after she meets Hazel, her new co-worker at Wagner Books and the only other Black woman in their department. At first, Nella is excited to have another Black woman in the workplace and eagerly befriends Hazel. But soon, she notices that strange things are happening in the office and at home, including microaggressions and gaslighting incidents, and that they all began after Hazel appeared in her life.
As the seeming sabotages on Nella's career and personal life add up (and point, suspiciously, to Hazel), she embarks on a search for answers only to discover more sinister secrets about her employer than she ever anticipated, leading to a cliff-hanger of a finale that will leave viewers enthralled. What viewers who haven't read Harris' book may not know is that the novel that inspired the series has a very different ending, but one that's equally as jaw-dropping
Here's what to know about The Other Black Girl and the novel that inspired it.
How The Other Black Girl TV series ends
At the end of The Other Black Girl, Nella has discovered that Hazel, as a "lead conditioner," has been sent to recruit her to join a national "sisterhood" that uses hair grease to brainwash smart and talented Black women into assimilating into white society. The grease works as a "social lubricant," numbing their ventromedial prefrontal cortexes, eliminating guilt and struggle, and offering them social ease and material and corporate success as a reward.
Nella also finds out that the sisterhood is headed by Diana Gordon, an influential Black author whose first book was published by Wagner. Gordon's first attempt to use the hair grease was on Kendra Rae Phillips, the only Black senior editor in the history of Wagner's company, as well as Gordon's childhood best friend. While long presumed dead, Phillips has in fact been on the run since Gordon attempted to brainwash her. Nella also learns that Gordon has used the hair grease to brainwash Jesse Watson, a prominent activist who opposed Wagner because of the structural racism in their workplace, into writing a book for them.
After being cornered by both Hazel and Diana, Nella is faced with the choice to use the hair grease or face an uncertain fate. In the final scene of the show, Nella appears for an important meeting with Jesse, visibly changed—perhaps most noticeably, her natural hair, which she wore in an afro, is now replaced with a pin-straight weave. She's congratulated by both Hazel and Diana on making the right decision and given a corner office.
But behind the privacy of a closed door, Nella is seen making a phone call on a burner phone to her best friends, Malaika and Kendra Rae, who are helping to lead a resistance movement to the brainwashing—and have taken Jesse.
Read more: The 36 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023
What are the biggest changes from the book to the screen?
In the novel, it's revealed that Nella has used the hair grease after considering that she's never felt free. At end the book, Nella escapes being forced to use the hair grease by Hazel, but gives into the pressure to use it after she discovers that Jesse has been brainwashed. In the final chapter of the book, Nella is revealed to now be a lead conditioner herself.
Other changes from the book to the series include Hazel's character, who is given a more nuanced and softer treatment in the TV show, which devotes an entire episode to her backstory, as well as the portrayal of the resistance to the brainwashing. In the novel, there's a large organized resistance to the "Other Black Girls" and their brainwashing conglomerate, while in the series, Nella meets just two people who have been on the run individually after their attempted conversions, Shani and Kendra Rae.
Why is the ending of the TV series different from the book?
While the show and the novel had very different endings, what the two shared is that it left plenty open to interpretation. The show's ending, in particular, hints that there may be more of Nella's story to be told. While the show hasn't been renewed yet, the open-ended ending leaves plenty of opportunity for second season fodder.
- Why House Democrats Refused to Save McCarthy
- The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time
- Inside One Indian iPhone Factory
- What Happens to Diane Feinstein's Senate Seat
- Self-Silencing Is Making Women Sick: Essay
- The Enduring Charm of John Grisham
- Kerry Washington: The Story of My Abortion
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time