If you haven't yet heard of the After franchise, then you clearly have not spent enough time on the stan side of the internet. Honestly, I would not advise you to fall down that hole unless you're fully ready to commit to spending hours each day scrolling through fan fiction and watching YouTube videos. Luckily, Anna Todd's One Direction fanfic-turned-real-book-series is about to hit the big screen, so you can get a taste of that life without fully immersing yourself in it. (Trust me. You're not ready.)
Although the first movie doesn't come out until April 12, After has been a thing since 2013, when Anna wrote a story about a girl named Tessa who falls in love with a punk Harry Styles on a social writing app called Wattpad. After about 80 chapters, the story was becoming wildly popular. In 2014, it had already racked up over a billion reads. Long story short, After became a five book series that is now a major motion picture. Here is everything you need to know about the series.
It's based on One Direction.
Anna began writing after discovering a phenomenon where 1D fans would create "punk" edits of the band by photoshopping loads of tattoos on them. In the original chapters (which are still available to read fo' free on Wattpad, BTW), Harry, Liam, Zayn, Louis, and Niall's real names are used. They're all punk except for Liam, who is the main character Tessa's squeaky clean best friend.
For legal reasons, the names had to be changed when the stories got published, so the main character's name became Hardin. Tessa, a Washington State University freshman, falls in love with Hardin, and the two end up in a tumultuous relationship.
Some people are not here for it.
While the on again, off again relationship between Hardin and Tessa is what drew many readers in, it was a definite turn off for others. Some critics feel that the series glorifies toxic relationships, and Harry Styles super fans are upset that he was used as the vehicle for Hardin's bad behavior.
But still, the series is a huge success.
In a 2014 interview Anna said, "The people that love and support me, there's so many of them. There would be days when I would forget and be like, 'Everyone hates me!' But when I look at the big picture, most of the people, and not just with me, but in any fandom, they say things on Twitter and they don't personally care."
There are many similarities to Fifty Shades.
Just like Fifty Shades, After takes place in Seattle, which Anna said was intentional. Both also feature an obsessive relationship between a woman who begins the story as a virgin and a man still haunted by his childhood.
The cast is super cute.
Josephine Langford (yep, Katherine's sister!) and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin play Tessa and Hardin. Selma Blair, Pia Mia, and a buuuunch of other hotties, like Samuel Larsen and Shane Paul McGhie, are in it too! Yay!
Even if you haven't been following the drama since the beginning, or don't particularly consider yourself a Directioner, you'll definitely want to get wrapped up in all of this drama once the movie premieres.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.