You probably knew that Game of Thrones was based on a book series, but it turns out quite a few acclaimed TV shows are adaptations of literary works as well. Here are eight great TV series whose fame eclipsed that of their readable source material.
- Big Little Lies
This hit series, which follows an ensemble of California parents-turned murder suspects, was adapted from the 2014 novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty. Though there are several notable differences, the most striking is the location change—the novel takes place in Australia, not Monterey Bay, California.
The world’s most loveable serial killer was not a TV creation, but rather an adaptation of Jeff Lindsay’s series, which follows the exploits of forensic analyst/vigilante murderer Dexter Morgan. Though the first season follows the plot of the first novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, it diverges from the books in subsequent seasons.
- Orange is the New Black
The naïve Piper who arrives at Litchfield Prison is modeled after Piper Kerman, the woman whose memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison inspired the Netflix hit. Like TV Piper, Kerman landed in prison for money-laundering and drug trafficking. Unlike TV Piper, she did not repeatedly clash with fellow prisoners or get locked up with her ex-girlfriend.
- House of Cards
This political thriller, which explores the torrid side of D.C. politics through the eyes of Machiavellian Senator Frank Underwood, was not even originally American! The show is based off of a UK miniseries, which was in turn based on Michael Dobbs’s novel of the same name about a politician conniving his way to the Prime Minister’s office.
- Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw’s candid missives are the stuff of TV legend, but did you know they were based off of the adventures of a real-life columnist? A freelance journalist writing for the New York Observer, Candace Bushnell eventually assembled her humorous reflections on NYC life into an anthology later adapted for the HBO series.
- Friday Night Lights
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose sight of the fact that this beloved show about a small-town high school Football team is based on H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger’s 1990 nonfiction work and its 2004 film adaptation. Indeed, both the TV series and the film were adapted by the same man, director Peter Berg.
- Rizzoli and Isles
This TNT police procedural about professional partners/good pals Det. Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles is based on the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. Though the two share core elements, the books are notably darker in tone than the often comedic TV adaptation.
- Fresh Off the Boat
A sitcom that explores the lives of Taiwanese immigrants and their first-generation children in 1990’s Orlando, Fresh Off the Boat is loosely based off of celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s 2013 memoir of the same name about his childhood obsession with hip-hop and his struggle to embrace his Taiwanese heritage.
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