This is the decade of adaptations. I mean, sure, books as old as time were turned over the years in movies, some an unhealthy number of times (seriously, please, stop). But these days, having a bestseller book, especially if it’s part of the ever so popular YA category, means an almost certain green light for a big screen production. There are few people left who don’t know that this film they’re watching used to be a book or, more, a franchise. Movies aren’t the only things that books make the transition towards, though. Some made the transition to television instead. In fact, there are some TV shows you might not even suspect of being backed by novels. So, in order to make this fact know, this is a list of 9 TV Shows That Were First Books.
1. Game Of Thrones
Based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones has to be the TV show whose origins the majority of the audience is aware of. The TV show is known for many things, unpredictability and shock factor included, but its biggest ace is its ability to keep viewers hooked and wondering. Given these circumstances, it’s not surprising that many people turned to the books during the show’s hiatuses, in hopes that they would perhaps reveal further information on their favorite character’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, although Game of Thrones definitely maintains much of the source material, it often diverges from the books and now, with the premiere of the sixth season, it will completely surpass their timeline.
Who doesn’t know about the worldwide famous novels and stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man behind the creation of Sherlock Holmes? His tales have been adapted and re-adapted a copious amount of times through the decades, though it’s very likely that BBC’s Emmy nominee Sherlock is the most unique. Taking the premise of the crime solving duo Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, then embedding it in a modern setting, this show reinvented the series. It benefits from great cinematography and two lead actors, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who were critically acclaimed for their performances.
3. Sex And The City
HBO didn’t always produce TV shows that were a controversial mix of graphic violence and nudity. Thanks to Candace Bushnell, who finally managed to get her ideas published after she filled the columns on the New York Observer with them, we got Sex and the City. This story follows around four women’s lives, filled with relationship and romance issues, though what truly made this series stand out was its great satirical tone, and its cultural impact that opened doors for media composed of a cast of almost entirely women.
4. House Of Cards
One of the most critically acclaimed productions of the era, House of Cards is what truly let the world know that Netflix means business with its original series. But for the premise, we have to thank Michael Dobbs, a British politician that wrote the book that’s behind the series. Since it was a politician who crafted the story, the focus is naturally on another politician, by the name Frank Underwood, as he pursues his ambitious goal of occupying the seat of the most powerful man in the world. Praised for its impressive line-up of cast members and storytelling, this TV show helped us know how truly vicious politics can be.
This criminally good TV show has its origins in the Jeff Lindsay novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Being the production that became the trademark of Showtime, Dexter gave us a generous number of seasons as it followed around Michael C. Hall’s character, a serial killer with a consciousness rattled by righteousness. Considering that many of the criminals out there eluded the punishment they truly deserve, Dexter takes matters in his own hands, and makes us all question our sanity and morality in the process.
It’s not just TV shows from the late 90’s onward that learned what success is. Initially a lesser known novel literary novel, this 70’s series focuses on a group of military surgeons in the heart of a war in South Korea. However, given the time period, many people chose to believe that the show inserted various nods to the conflicts in Vietnam, especially given the accuracy with which some details were being told. M*A*S*H truly stood out by being the perfect mix of comedy and serious tones, even managing to strike a controversial chord with its much talked about series finale.
7. True Blood
Before HBO decided to follow up on the vampire craze that blew up in the last several years with True Blood, we had Charlaine Harris and her The Southern Vampire Mysteries series. In both stories, we follow protagonist Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress who’s struggled her whole life with the ability to read minds. In a world where supernatural is well known to humans, she meets Bill Compton, a 173 year old vampire, and gets tangled in a series of affairs that result in a lot of trouble.
8. Orange Is The New Black
Another brilliant production with the Netflix trademark annexed to it, Orange Is The New Black was adapted from Piper Kerman’s memoirs, where she actually shares her experiences from behind the bars of an all women prison. The series was highly praised, especially for the variety of characters and inclusion of a race and orientation diversity, as well as for the masterful acting and the quality insights and developments of the characters.
Thomas Harris wrote Red Dragon, the novel which would soon become the inspiration behind the series that follows the infamous Hannibal Lecter. Even though adaptations have been made before, most notable being the chilling portrayal offered by Anthony Hopkins, Hannibal takes a different approach. Instead, it focuses on the complex relationship between Doctor Lecter and the detective trailing his murders, Will Graham, and the ways in which the former manipulates the ones around him to cover up his dark secret.
How many of these did you know about? Sure, some of the series have behind a single, lone novel, while others were built on the foundation of an entire franchise, possibly still ongoing (I’m looking at you, G.R.R. Martin, stop procrastinating). Still, it’s always interesting to know at least 9 TV Shows That Were First Books.
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
Leave a Reply