Warning: Spoilers ahead for Hulu’s Saint X series. It’s a novel by Alexis Schaitkin, published in 2020, and now a series on Hulu about the mysterious death of a young woman who disappeared while on vacation with her family. The question of who killed Alison in Saint X has been on everyone’s lips since the show debuted on April 26, 2023.
The show stars West Duchovny as Alison, Alycia Debnam-Carey as her sister Emily, and Jayden Elijah as Edwin, one of the last men to see Alison alive. Rappers Drake and Future serve as executive producers for the Hulu series.
“It upends the sort of white girl gone missing [story],” Duchovny told ABC News. “It really puts forth the ways in which the trauma and the grief and the prejudices really affect so much more than just Alison’s family.” She continued, explaining how she had to explore her character’s story beyond what’s told in the novel: “With the book, you get a little bit more of Alison. But in the show, you get her for those eight days that she’s on vacation. So for me, it was such a challenge and so important to me. Like how can I do justice to this character within these parameters.”
Who killed Alison in Saint X?
As in the novel, the question of who killed Alison in Saint X in the Hulu series is left intentionally ambiguous. For the police in Saint X, Alison’s death was an accident but the last two men to see her alive, Clive and Edwin, remain the primary suspects in the case, though they’re both deemed innocent later.
The story is not typical of the crime genre and the focus is more on the impact of the event on the people involved rather than solving the crime itself; Schaitkin explores themes such as grief, loss, and “Missing White Woman Syndrome”; a term used by social psychologists and media commentators that note frenzied and disproportionate coverage of missing-person cases involving young, attractive, white upper-middle-class women or girls compared to the lack of attention granted to women of color or lower socio-economic backgrounds.
“From the very beginning of writing this book, I knew it was largely about the aftermath, about the ‘what happens next’ of a tragic story that becomes a media sensation and public obsession. Yet it took a while to land on the structure that would best deliver a sense of the wreckage Alison’s death left behind,” the author explained to the American Booksellers Association in 2020.
“I was many drafts in before I decided to intersperse a series of first-person testimonies from seemingly peripheral characters—a police officer, a resort guest, Clive and Edwin’s schoolmates, Alison’s high school teacher and her ex-boyfriend. It was in writing these pieces, in letting these voices briefly claim the reader’s attention, that the novel started to feel complete. For me, this chorus of voices is about the ripple effect of Alison’s death, about its unexpected consequences and the ways a single event can reverberate across time and space.” She continued: “The first chapter sets up the mystery of Alison Thomas’ death, but I hope the reader will quickly figure out that the novel is ultimately less interested in the answer to that mystery than in its fallout for all of these characters.”
Showrunner Leila Gerstein explained her devotion to the original material during an interview with Elle.com ahead of the show’s debut, revealing the fact that leads us to believe that no murderer will be identified on the screen iteration of the story. “The novel has textured characters, a multi-layered world, surprises, and themes that intrigue me as a writer and I was so excited to expand on what Alexis had set up,” Gerstein said. “Like the book, the show deals with very real issues like grief, class, race, and culture’s obsession with dead white girls while set in a beautiful location with a great mystery propelling us to the end.”
Schaitkin—who was fascinated by the JonBenét Ramsey case as a child—told TIME that she wanted to subvert the “dead white girl” or “pretty missing girl” trope. “It is interrogating our interest in those stories, and what it means to sensationalize these stories and to pay attention to certain deaths and not other deaths,” Schaitkin said. She aimed “to write a ‘dead girl story’ that’s about our fascination with these dead girl stories.”
Saint X is available to stream on Hulu with new episodes dropping each Wednesday until May 31, 2023.
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men–employees at the resort–are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.
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