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Don't Judge a Book by Its Sitcom (and Vice Versa)

I am a lady who likes her TV. Likewise, I’m a lady who likes her books. I am also a lady who has been known to enjoy it when the two mediums collide, one being adapted into the other. I love waiting to see if the characters from one medium can correctly be portrayed in another, and I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.

At age seven, I lived for The Babysitter's Club. That series was everything awesome about what I could imagine teenage life to be: Income! Friends! Cute boys! Denim cut-off vests! And then, it was made into a movie and all my dreams were made that much more real. The books inspired the movie and the movie got me more excited to keep reading the books.  

Of course, the basic idea of a book being translated into a movie or TV show is not new. But, BSC (for the cool kids) was my first real experience with it. Followed almost immediately by the Goosebumps series that I could read at night and watch after school (!). And let’s not forget the great Sweet Valley High or Little House on the Prairie before my time. 

Now, there’s Twilight and The Hunger Games. There’s Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. And Dexter and The Walking Dead and The Bourne Series. All of these books adapted into film have got me wondering, why aren’t more movies or shows adapted into books?

I can remember, as a closeted science fiction nerd in junior high, I would get my dad to buy me books based on Star Wars that chronicled the adventures of Han and Leia's children, Jaina and Jacen (and  a hot redhead, as shown on this cover). ((A fact that I have never shared with anyone. You're welcome, Internet.)) With this series, books came from the movies, literature imitated but did not duplicate cinema. Familiar characters Luke, Han, and Leia are present in, but not the main characters of, the series. 

The same sort of things happened with a few popular TV shows; the story arcs and the characters of well received TV shows often got book spin-offs. Notables include: Full House, Star Trek, The X-Files, NCIS, Firefly, The O.C., and Smallville. It seems that sci-fi/fantasy programs and programs geared towards adolescent girls are the more successful book adaptations.

With so much of modern television programming and movie magic coming from book series, are there any original shows as of late that would do well if converted into literature? Would we want them to be? I can think of any number of characters that I love and cannot seem to get enough of. But, I have to ask myself, would Mad Men be the same without the impeccable scenic design? Or the visual candy of the wardrobe stylings? Could 30 Rock stand on its own two literary feet? I’m not sure.

A spin-off book seems a lot like a spin-off TV series. 


A spin-off book seems a lot like a spin-off TV series in that none are really all that extremely, wildly successful. That I know of? Prove me wrong, please. But the ones listed above aren’t exactly some of the greatest works of fiction. 

After having everything laid out for us, are we unable or unwilling to imagine or enjoy anything more than what we have already seen? Or, I suppose the real question is, do books based on movies or television shows have less literary merit? 

I don’t know. Part of me thinks that plots would have to thicken and storylines stretch to last so many pages. Mannerisms would have to be described accurately but not dryly to reflect that of what actors have already displayed. I’ve never seen it done extremely well. But I certainly would like to. 

What parts of silver screen (big or small) would you love to read, if at all?

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