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TV Book Adaptations Should Only Have One Season: an Argument

Following the success of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, fans were left wanting and waiting for a season two. The show ends accordingly to where the book ended, but like with many other shows, *ahem* Game of Thrones, this show will be one of the many that have outgrown their original source material.


13 Reasons Why


Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why was a stand-alone novel. He never wrote any sequels and there is no news of any in the works. As great as the first season may have been, I don’t think there should be a second season. Much like the writers of Game of Thrones, the writers of the second season of 13 Reasons Why will now have to go off of the source content and create original plots and storylines as Asher has absolutely no involvement in season 2.


13 reasons

Image Via Cosmopolitan


By the end of the book, Hannah’s story is over and Clay got the closure he needed. There really is no need to see past that. The premise of season two surrounds closure and follows plot lines of characters other than Clay and Hannah, which were started in the first season along with the courtroom drama that Hannah’s suicide creates. Any continuing stories surrounding the characters would diminish the entire point of telling Hannah’s story in the first place. 


The aim of the first, and what should have been the only, season of 13 Reasons Why was to have the characters learn from death and specifically Hannah’s death and how they impacted her life. With a second season, that point is erased entirely. Creating a second season out of source material that has run dry is responding to viewer demand and not inspiration. When shows are continued for those reasons, concepts and storylines can be dry and feel forced.


The Handmaid’s Tale


Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been adapted for film and television numerous times, but Hulu’s most recent adaptation has been the most successful of them all. While almost scarily relevant to the current climate, the adaptation follows the same themes, characters, and storylines of the 1985 novel while updating them to fit more modern times.



Image via Business Insider


Much like 13 Reasons Why and its message, The Handmaid’s Tale could be undermined and lost in building new stories off what little source material there is that hasn’t been used in the first season. The season one finale, “Night”, ended at about the same place as where the novel ended, a cliffhanger for both. For me, the ending of the novel was satisfying as readers were left to their own devices and could decide if Offred/June was headed to her death or was able to escape through the van. Her future was left up to the reader to decide.


Season 2, with not much source material left to draw from, will have to be original by necessity. Unlike Asher for season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, Atwood herself does have a role in production as “consulting producer.” While the first season may have brought monumental success to Hulu, continuing The Handmaid’s Tale could be disastrous to the source material, ripping every aspect of it to shreds looking for new plot points to adapt. While viewers may eagerly hope that June/Offred finds asylum or somehow rises above Gilead, that ending would be a disservice the original novel.


Big Little Lies


Big Little Lies was originally produced as a mini-series and should’ve stayed as just that. While stars of the show, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman openly supported the idea of creating a second season, director Jean-Marc Vallée opposed it.


big little

Image Via Cosmopolitan 


The mini-series perfectly encompassed the novel and all it had to offer, including the oh so satisfying ending. Much like The Handmaid’s Tale novel, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies left readers wanting more without getting more—that’s what makes these stories so impactful. 


Much like the issues with 13 Reasons Why and The Handmaid’s Tale, as long as the show has views, it will continue. Shows with high viewership will continue until they stop making money, not necessarily when the story ends. 


The source content of the novel has enough mystery left at the end to spur additional storylines and plot points, but that would ruin the novelty of letting the reader decide what happens after the last page has been turned. 


Featured Image Via Barnes & Nobles