Lost in Translation: Books and Their Live Action Counterparts

I'm Right and You're Wrong

Many television shows that have come out recently are based on books and fans love to argue over which one is the best version. This is difficult to debate because it's a matter of opinion. Everyone has their own idea of how their favorite book should be adapted into a show and these opinions rarely mesh. But that's not all that factors into the differences between them. Here is a short overview of the variables that come into play when books become shows.


First off, you really need to forgive the shows to a certain extent. One season of a television series is around 13-19 episodes and cramming a 500 page book into that many episodes is like trying to stuff a watermelon into a lemon. Books are far more detailed than their television counterparts because the show just can't fit it all in. Not only that, readers may interpret things that happen in a book differently than the producers do, which can be disappointing. There is just too much room for error.


Another thing to consider is whether or not the show was intended to follow the book or if it is loosely based on it. Trying to follow a popular piece of literature is dangerous because fans are rarely satisfied. There are some exceptions, but it's often a failure. Instead, a lot of shows are only based on the book and develop their own story and plot. There are many examples of how this method can be very successful. Again, that's often a matter of opinion, but ratings do tell a convincing story.


The station that the show is aired on can also play a significant factor in an adaptation's success. Many popular shows that came from books would be rated M for mature if they actually followed them too closely. While the obvious answer to this is to put it on a station that allowed mature content, like HBO or Showtime, that's not always possible. If they won't pick the show up, the creators have to settle for whatever they can get. While many readers want something as violent or explicit as the novels, they might have to get used to a tamer version.

Do you know of any shows that were a great match for the book, or did they fall short?

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