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Thoughts on Books that Became Television Shows

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I tried watching/reading A Song of Ice and Fire, but it never really resonated with me. And that's despite the sex and violence. I'd never really heard of GRRM before this, and even after, I'm still not even sure if it's something that's worth my time.

There'd been plenty of other examples of books successfully transitioning to the TV before this, such as Dexter, Bones, and even The Vampire Diaries (ew), but none have the massive following of Game of Thrones. And none, as far as I'm aware, have influenced other would-be producers and showrunners as much. In just a few short years, you have cable TV shows scrambling to ape GOT, with Black Sails (which ended last year, sadly), last year's much-celebrated Westworld, and this year, Starz's American Gods and Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.


I remember reading American Gods in my freshman year in college (I think), and while it was very entertaining, I always thought that Gaiman's other stores - namely the ones in Smokes and Mirrors, and Stardust - were better, in terms of story. American Gods, while well-written, felt too much like an American thriller to me, and while I loved the idea of how gods survived so long as people believed in them, the language of the novel lent very little to the imagination when it came to the grandoise powers of these gods.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Gaiman kept the language sparse when it came to showcasing the gods' unique abilities, since the abilities of gods - as defined in the teachings of each religion - is as broad as it is vast.

That, and it wouldn't have been in keeping with the language of the book.

So I approached the TV show with a little bit of skepticism in my mind. I figured that if it was going to be anything like Game of Thrones, it would be something I would start watching, forget that it was on, and then just stop watching it altogether. And the fact that I can't, for the life of me, remember much of what happened in the book didn't really do much to soften my approach.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that while I was right - it was going to become a show that I could leave as background music for when I was working on somethin else - I discovered that it was going to become a show that I wouldn't mind following. Mostly, it was because Zorya Polunochnaya was hot Zorya Vechernyaya made Turkish coffee, but I eventually figured that it was because the show didn't take itself that seriously. There was no pomp and circumstance, unlGame of Thrones, and no outright world-building, unlike Westworld. The details of Wednesday's, and eventually, Shadow's, world was slowly introduced to the viewer, slowly and harmlessly, which made it easier to digest.
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And truth be told, the thriller genre works very well with film.

I've read - and I love - The Handmaid's Tale, and I can't recommend it enough to anybody who's even partially interested in reading one of the most politically feminist works ever made. That said, and considering the intense politicking surrounding political correctness today, I'm a bit worried that the TV show is going to take the core of the book, amp it up to appease the most avid of social justice warriors, and lose sight of the very core of the book by adapting it to modern-day sensibilities.

I don't know how much input Margaret Atwood has in the TV show, but Rotten Tomatoes' 100% rating is, to me, a good thing (I trust RT), but reading some of the show's factoids from Wikipedia makes me worried. I don't understand, for example, the need to tie the rise of Gilead to falling fertility rates due to STDs and pollution - those are very good causes to fight for, don't get me wrong, but it feels like it's trying too hard to tie the story to the real world. And why give away Offred's full name? Why does it matter? It never mattered in the book. Why should it matter in the show?

In my focus on some of the biggest names in the book-to-TV transition, I forgot to mention here The Last Ship, my guilty pleasure, the one TV show that, in my opinion, is as dumb as 2 Broke Girls if 2 Broke Girls were political thriller, but is still a show that I can't help but enjoy. Oh, and did I mention that it was also based on a (not very well-known) sci-fi book? Season 4 starts later this year, and I cannot wait.

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