Stay tuned to hear a lot more about one TV show in particular in the coming days. Conversations with Friends, based on Sally Rooney’s debut novel, is likely to do pretty brisk business on Irish screens next week, and with good reason.
Thanks to the Rooney-maniac, the series has a built-in audience eager to see how the Irish author’s eponymous book translates to the screen. Or rather, does the TV adaptation have the same enthusiasm as director Lenny Abrahamson’s previous series based on Rooney’s second book, normal people,
The rise of ‘just-read TV’ is a no-brainer. Many book titles already have tried and tested readers.
Film criticism site Rotten Tomatoes listed more than 125 literary adaptations in development last year. According to statistics from Publishers Marketplace, the number of TV adaptations is growing closer to the number of original TV series.
And in the golden age of streaming, a multi-episode series can do serious justice to a subtle plot or complex characters. In some of the best cases, the themes and issues touched upon in the novel can be neatly expanded upon with a good series. Here are some great page-to-screen projects.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Written by Margaret Atwood)
Showrunner Bruce Miller created a visceral, visually powerful version of Canadian author Atwood’s troubled dystopian universe. Elizabeth Moss was fiery and flamboyant as June, the main protagonist of the novel, while Ann Dodd is unforgettable as Aunt Lydia.
The show won eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series. A film version of the novel starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Aidan Quinn was made in 1990. In recent series, with Atwood’s blessing, the plot has expanded beyond the limits of the original novel’s story. Available to watch on All4.
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2. Big Little Lies (Originally Written by Liane Moriarty)
Reese Witherspoon has turned her Hello Sunshine production company into a billion-dollar empire after realizing that Hollywood actresses are crying out for solid, multifaceted parts.
Among their biggest adaptation successes is this two-season win, which is set in middle-class Monterey and focuses on a group of school-run mothers who are embroiled in a murder investigation. The performances of such luminaries as Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Witherspoon herself were considered top notch. Available to watch on NowTV or Amazon Prime,
3. Patrick Melrose (Originally Written by Edward St. Aubin)
Saint Aubin’s semi-autobiographical novel, detailing a man overcoming drug addiction by coping with abuse by his father, created an iconic character for Benedict Cumberbatch.
He rose to the occasion with a phenomenal performance; The show scored an impressive 80/100 on the film critic site Metacritic and scored two BAFTAs. The series was helmed by a stellar cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Celia Emery and Hugo Weaving. Available to watch on NOW TV.
4. Bridgerton (Originally Written by Julia Quinn)
Netflix scored big with her fresh and insanely sexy look in the tried and tested Regency period drama. With Shonda Rhimes in the producer’s seat and Netflix’s deep pockets at her disposal, the end result is credited with everything from the return of the corset to a wave of similarly raucous TV offerings.
It became the most-watched English-language series on Netflix at the time. Bridgerton has also produced superstars from a relative unknown, among them Phoebe Dienevar, reggae-Jean Page and Galvian Nicola Coughlan. Available to watch on Netflix.
5. Game of Thrones (Originally Written by George R.R. Martin) Arguably one of the most successful page-to-screen jumps ever, Meet Attracted record viewership for HBO.
Set on the fictional continents of Westeros, Sothorios and Essos, the show seems to capture a true spirited moment. The show, which was partly filmed in Belfast, has long been praised for its good handling of characters, story and scope, and is the proud recipient of 59 Emmys to date. Available to watch on NOW TV.
6. Orange Is the New Black (Originally Written by Piper Kerman)
After being charged with felony activities, Piper Kerman wrote a memoir about his time in the FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison.
Under the guidance of showrunner Jenji Kohn, Netflix’s orange is the new black Violence against women and judicial bias against women became a scathing commentary. The series also touched upon topics such as sexuality, trans identity, race relations and class, and became a cultural pioneer. Available to watch on Netflix.
7. Killing Eve (Originally Written by Luke Jennings)
killing eve Forever may be associated with the sharp penchant of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (and Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell, who wrote the second series), but a Booker-nominated author arose with the clever spy thriller Jennings.
Some argue that the franchise was destined for the screen treatment, and those who enjoyed the smoldering performances of Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh — not to mention the amazing costume design — will likely agree. Available to watch on RT Player.
8. The Queen’s Gambit (Originally Written by Walter Tevis)
The 1983 adaptation of Tevis’ book hasn’t been without its challenges: Georgian chess master Nona Gaprindashvili, on whom the book and series are based, hit Netflix with a $5m defamation lawsuit, alleging that the TV series had a line in Mentioning her real-life success was “blatantly false, at the same time downright sexist and undermining”.
Furthermore, the story of a fictional chess prodigy who struggled with drug and alcohol dependence to rise to the top was critically acclaimed. Anya Taylor-Joy became a breakout star. Available to watch on Netflix.
9. Pride and Prejudice (Originally Written by Jane Austen)
Jane Austen’s work has repeatedly received the screen treatment, although it is agreed that the 1995 BBC adaptation (starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy) was a pivotal moment for canon.
Guardian Firth breathlessly described the iconic scene in a wet shirt as “one of the most unforgettable moments in TV history”. Meanwhile, the series was acknowledged for not only turning Firth into a heartthrob, but for kickstarting Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series. available to watch on netflix,
10. Heartstopper (Originally Written by Alice Osman)
This 2022 series, based on a coming-of-age graphic novel, boasts a rare distinction: a 100pc approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
As school kids Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (Joe Locke) played out, critics and audiences alike have fallen for the heartwarming portrayal of young LGBTQ+ love interest. Within a week of its release on Netflix, the series had reportedly garnered a reported 23.9 million hours of views. Available to watch on Netflix.