Here’s a fun “get to know you” question we tossed at all of our Uproar Books authors: What’s the best TV show based on a novel you’ve ever seen?
And the number one thing we learned from their answers is that less than 50% of them know how to count to one (or at least how to stop there). Writers, amirite?
Here’s what they had to say…
“Best” is always a difficult concept. If I had to choose among my favorites, a clear stand out is HBO’s Sharp Objects, which did dark, female-led drama in a way I rarely see.
Camille (Amy Adams) is excruciatingly complex. Her brooding, off-balance portrayal kept me gripped in the web surrounding her. I watched engrossed as she drunkenly meandered through the troubled history of her family and childhood home. The physical space felt occupied by Camille’s inner demons and the weight of that was palpable, and at times, emotionally overwhelming. For anyone who has been raised in one like I have, the small-town vibes were vivid and haunting—constantly transporting us into a nostalgic, but ultimately unnerving trance of familiarity. The dialogue between Camille and her mother is the definition of functionally dysfunctional, with each sugar coated, stricken-laced utterance doubling as a Molotov of unaddressed traumas. Highly recommend this series about the perils of losing view of the shoreline when swimming against the tide of one’s past.
TV shows based on book IPs are doing such a clutch job keeping us all nominally functional in the maelstrom of 2020 that it almost feels like an insult to only single out one. I feel like the obvious recent answer is Amazon Prime’s Good Omens, and I’ve certainly nominated and voted for the series in awards just about every chance I’ve had this year—so I’ll go with the only slightly less obvious and just as deserving SyFy/Netflix’s Expanse series. The TV series is a brilliant and true adaptation of the spirit of the books, and perfectly delivers on the political, economic, and scientific worldbuilding choices that help make the characters’ stories, in both formats, so compelling.
Widely considered to be the greatest haunted house novel ever written, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson was adapted in 2017 by director Mike Flannagan (Occulus, Gerald’s Game) as a ten-part miniseries on Netflix that tells the story of a family who spends one fateful summer flipping a derelict Gothic mansion in rural Massachusetts, the unspeakable tragedy that subsequently unfolds, and the trauma that still haunts them twenty-six years later. Make no mistake, the ghosts that stalk the halls of Hill House are very real, but it is the metaphorical ghosts that Flannagan so devastatingly explores through the lens of a broken family that are most terrifying of all: grief, fear, anger, guilt, and the truths we try so desperately to bury that find us in the end.
Before the human disaster that was Season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, I think most fantasy fans would have agreed that nothing could compare to seeing Westeros brought to life. The end of such an ambitious journey left a gap ready to be filled by many more fantasy franchises, and I’m glad Game of Thrones has paved the way because thanks to its popularity among mainstream TV, we’ve been spoiled with adaptations ofNetflix’s The Witcher and HBO’s His Dark Materials, two of my favourite shows of recent times. Though I personally can’t wait to see Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and S.A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass on my telly!
I’m terrible at “best” lists and favorites—every time I narrow it down to one, I think of twenty more—so I’ll keep my answer to two shows:
1) Netflix’s Daredevil (all three seasons, which draw heavily on the work of Frank Miller). Absolutely amazing cast. Maybe the best casting I’ve ever seen in an adaptation from page to screen. Every single character is perfect. Also some of the best writing I’ve seen on TV. Just to take one episode as an example, Season 1 Episode 9 (“Speak of the Devil”)—amazing interplay of the scenes with Father Lantom and Matt talking about the Devil and Matt getting his butt handed to him by a member of the Hand. Philosophical depth skillfully juxtaposed with tension and threat and violence. Perfection.
2) One of my favorite TV shows of the last ten years (heck, EVER) is AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies (yes, it’s based on a book). Really powerful storytelling. My favorite kind of complicated characters: good people in extremely difficult situations facing impossible choices and still trying to do the right thing. One of the most vile, frightening villains I’ve ever seen on screen. And the show takes an honest look at the American Revolution without glossing over the sins of the revolutionaries or engaging in a simplistic cynicism that it would be so tempting for a show about America’s beginnings. It’s damn good drama.
Did any of them get it right? Or did they all miss the absolutely positively undeniably most correct answer ever?
Share your thoughts below!