“They had ideas of what they wanted to do with him [Jeevan], and that sort of developed over time and I think ended in a really great place,” Patel said. “I really think that the story that we tell with the series sort of complements [the book] really, rather than being a sort of carbon copy.”
Sure enough, the show drastically expands Jeevan’s role. They turn him from someone who briefly helps out Kirsten (the closest thing the book has to a main character) to someone who plays a major part in Kirsten’s life. The show writers took advantage of how the book is intentionally vague about what that first year or so of the apocalypse was like for most of the characters, using the opportunity to write fresh new material for Jeevan and Kirsten, who, in the show, spend their first year isolated together.
The two get on each other’s nerves sometimes, sure, but they form a close bond to each other that sticks with both of them even decades after they’re forced apart. Whereas the book is content to have them go their separate ways after their initial chance encounter, the show has them reunite in the finale. And because we’ve had so much more time to connect to the two of them as a pairing, their reunion is just as emotional as the most powerful moments from the book. In one of the smartest adaptation changes ever, the writers took Jeevan from a relative minor character to arguably the heart of the show.
As much as everyone says they love a faithful adaptation, Jeevan’s wonderful expanded character arc (and Patel’s Emmy-nominated performance) proves that sometimes, major changes are for the best.