Hi friends! Do you always read the book before you watch the show? As much as I would like to be that kind of person, that’s not me. I like fantasy and sci-fi in all forms of media and some of the times an adaptation allows me to experience a story I would’ve never picked up to read. Maybe it’s the nerd version of blasphemy, but here are 5 TV adaptations better than their books.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman
The Magicians is the inspiration behind this post. Somewhere way, way back in the blog I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually dnf’d The Magicians when I tried to read it. It left no impression on me whatsoever. Of course the description of the show jogged my memory a little and I won’t even tell you how many episodes I watched before I realized that I read part of the original source material. The Magicians show is adult, not young adult like the books, and takes place in a magical grad school. The main characters are all bad people; they’re not morally gray just straight up jerks and losers. It took me an entire season to like Quentin and Julia because of their actions, but the side characters Eliot, Margo, and Penny quickly stole my heart and gained my loyalty. The show is a dark academia fantasy with a dash of portal fantasy and it is available to watch on Netflix. I was unable to watch the final season live and I’ve put off watching it because once I do my favorite TV show will be over. How that boring book gave birth to one of my favorite television programs is a mystery to me.
Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
My clickbait title doesn’t really apply here because I know the TV show is not as good as the books, but the page count and treatment of women prevent me from reading this series. The fantasies I usually read are from women, Black women and women of color in particular. Plus Game of Thrones is grimdark and completely not to my tastes. The show let me see Daenerys and her huge dragons so I’ve gotten all I need from this series. Peer pressure is most of the reason I ended up watching the show and I had a love/hate relationship while it was still airing. The ending of Game of Thrones went down as one of the worst in tv history so maybe if Martin ever finishes the series I’ll read the Wikipedia plot summary.
The Witcher – Andrzej Sapkowski
Same reasons as Game of Thrones. I like the show because it is funny, has good action scenes, and Yennefer is amazing. The Witcher has three timelines blended together and that doesn’t become clear until halfway through the season. It’s short enough to watch twice so I could enjoy the wibbly-wobbly timeline more. I don’t typically like when books have unclear timelines and don’t let the reader know. Actually, the only time I’ve seen this mechanic and liked it is in N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The Good Omens show was really fun and I loved it; however, even with my enjoyment of the show I would never be attracted to this book in a store and buy them. I don’t think Pratchet’s books, overall, are for me. That type of whimsy is not my style and I don’t tend to pick up books with overt religious tones. If Good Omens ever gets another season I’ll watch and support that way.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
American Gods in those first seasons checks all my boxes for fantasy TV shows. It had whimsy, it had meaningful diversity, there was drama and angst, it was so good. After Orlando Jones was fired from the show I stopped watching and haven’t gotten around to finishing it. Jones played the spider god Anansi and he was a scene stealer. I actually love a lot of Gaiman adaptations and have never read his books. Maybe one day in the future I’ll pick up Anansi Boys or Sandman, but for now I’m fine watching shows based on his works.
Stay tuned for the movie version of this post! What are the best and worst TV adaptations you’ve seen?