And so the Game of Thrones finale came and went and many of us are still suffering from withdrawal. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I awaited the final episode with dread and excitement, much like a virgin on her wedding night, and now that’s passed, what will I do with my Sunday nights? Then I remembered… True Blood has returned to HBO for its final season this month.
This really got me thinking about the amazing shows on television these days and how many are adapted screenplays from books. In my opinion, David Benioff and Dan Weiss have done an amazing job with our beloved Game of Thrones. I’m not going to go over the last episode – as a reader of the series – it’s kind of old news. I know, I know, this makes me a book snob. Nevertheless, I know what’s supposed to happen but I want to see if they’ll do it. I’m terrified they’ll buckle under pressure like other shows have done. (You know, not kill certain people who died in the books.)
Knowing what happens in the books did not diminish my excitement and anticipation each Sunday. So far, with its four seasons, HBO has done this show to perfection. I don’t even mind some of the minor changes they’ve made. I can see, when it is all said and done, their destination is the same as the one Martin intended. As a fan of the series, I appreciate that and am more willing to embrace the nuances they add to the experience.
Then there is the True Blood series. Fans of the books, like myself, have been forced to swallow a bitter pill when it comes to the show on HBO. It. Is. Not. The. Same. Like, at all. Oh sure, there is a chick named Sooki who is a telepath and some vampires running around but the movement of the plot (when there is one) just isn’t the same. Characters – major characters – were killed off or allowed to live that went far beyond the limits, in my mind, of creative license. I cannot even begin to tell you about the odd plot divergence that happens every single season. Although entertaining, I’ve had trouble with the adaptations. I really have. I will watch this last season because, well, I can’t not see how they want it to end. The end of the book series caused controversy all on its own and it looks like the television series is set to fall into the same trap for different reasons.
Orange is the New Black, a Netflix series, has been generating plenty of buzz of its own. Many who watch it have hailed it as gritty and hilarious. I haven’t watched it yet but last weekend, while recovering from the latest Game of Thrones episode, friends were discussing it and I found out it was also a book. For some reason this made me want to watch it. I had no desire to watch it until someone said it was originally a successful book. That’s all it took for me. I have already added it to my list on Netflix. But why? So far, I have experienced one perfect adaptation and one not-so-perfect adaptation. I’m willing to gamble that my desire to watch it is fed by my desire to prolong the experience by finishing the show and then reading the books. Or vice versa.
What books-to-TV shows are you watching right now? What makes you choose to watch them? Does the television show make you more or less apt to read the books?