Tag Archives: adaptation

Fall TV: Return to Westeros, Middle Earth, and More

Fall television season is upon us, and fantasy fans are eating well. I have a real penchant for fantasy movies and television shows based on books that I haven’t read, and there is plenty of new content to keep us entertained as the nights start to get darker. Below are some adaptations I’m particularly excited about; let us know your own picks in the comments! 

House of the Dragon

How are we feeling, everyone? Are we ready to revisit the world of Westeros? Have we put our hurt sufficiently behind us? We all remember the catastrophe that was season 8. I don’t want to talk about it. Suffice to say, when Game of Thrones ended in 2019, I declared that I would never lay eyes on another A Song of Ice and Fireadjacent property again. Fool me once, right? Cut to three years later, which in pandemic years feels more like eight, and I find myself cautiously optimistic about this new prequel series. The groundwork has already been laid; we already know the houses and the lore of Westeros. We all have our fave houses (Tyrell forever!). But where Game of Thrones spanned several houses and the entire continent of Westeros (and a bit of Essos), House of the Dragon, based on the novel Fire and Blood, reins in the scope to focus mainly on the platinum-haired, dragon-wielding Targaryen family.  

Where the original series covered conflicts and power grabs from house to house, House of the Dragon deals with the inter-family civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons (not to be confused with A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series…), which is essentially a war of succession (funnily, apparently the showrunners looked to Succession for inspiration). So get ready for more inappropriate family relationships (the Targaryens are famously incestuous, much like the real-life Ptolemy and Habsburg dynasties) and confusing names like Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, Aemond, Daemon, and multiple other combinations of a and e (as someone who still can’t spell Daenerys without the help of Google, this will surely be fun for me). I just watched Wigs Versailles, a show about King Louis XIV’s court at the titular palace, full of melodrama, political machinations, assassinations and the like (and also beautiful, gorgeous hair). So I, for one, am primed and ready for more of that…plus dragons.  

House of the Dragon airs on Crave (HBO), Sunday nights at 9:00 pm. Get caught up on the original series here.

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What Went Wrong with Netflix’s Persuasion?

What was it that Shakespeare said? “My kingdom for a decent adaptation of Persuasion?” Some versions have gotten close, but we’ve yet to land on a definitive take (unlike, say, Pride and Prejudice, which is done, now please leave it alone forever). The latest brave soul to take a crack at Jane Austen’s final novel is Netflix, who takes misinterpretation of the source material to soaring new heights in an adaptation that is not only just plain bad, but bafflingly off-base. And it seems that many of us have taken that personally. By now, plenty of hilariously dramatic thinkpieces have been written on the ways in which this version fails. But all the hubbub got me thinking: there have been plenty of terrible movie adaptations of beloved books before. Why is this one so offensive? 

First and most obviously, it takes Austen’s most mature, melancholic, pensive work about lost love and regret and tries to jam it into the shape of a romantic comedy. Then there’s the questionable dialogue, which switches wildly between the 19th and 21st centuries without any rhyme or reason (there’s a scene where protagonist Anne Elliot’s sister asks her how she would dance to Beethoven. Anne: “Alone in my room, with a bottle of red.” Where is the Beethoven playing from, in this scenario? Her Spotify account?), and also has the subtlety of a sledgehammer (I particularly enjoyed the scene where the mustache-twirling villain Mr. Elliot fully lays out his dastardly plans to sabotage Anne’s father’s relationship in the style of a Bond villain—and Anne has no problem going shopping with him later). The romantic lead Captain Wentworth—who carries himself with a dignified, wounded pride in the novel—has the air of a boxer who has taken one too many hits, always seeming a bit dazed; I have a hard time believing this version of him could craft the iconic “I am half-agony, half-hope” letter.  

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Bridgerton: The Allure of the Regency

On April 12, join us for Lady Whistledown Presents: A Bridgerton Soirée for an evening of decadence and discussion as we take on the Ton of London’s high society! For ages 18+.

When Brigderton first premiered on Christmas Day of 2020, it wasn’t long before streaming numbers exploded and the historical romance was crowned the most-streamed show in Netflix history. Despite the period setting, it always had the makings of a hit: a Shondaland production, a Jane Austen-meets-Gossip Girl (with an R rating) plot, gorgeous costumes, and an even more gorgeous cast. Throw in the fact that we were all still locked in our homes and needing some form of breezy distraction, and voila! The show has since been bumped from the top spot by Squid Game, but let’s see where season two lands. If you’re like me, you’ve probably devoured season two of Bridgerton by now—perhaps more than once. 

Season two of the show is based on The Viscount Who Loved Me, book two in the Bridgerton book series by Julia Quinn. I confess that I myself have never read the books, so I can’t speak to the show’s faithfulness—but what I can speak to is the pivot to a more traditional Regency style: season two trades the graphic love scenes for simmering tension, barbed snipes, and charged glances. And honestly, the show is all the better for it. Our mains this season are Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, eldest of the siblings, and Miss Kate Sharma, who comes to England from India in order to find a match for her younger sister. It’s the enemies-to-lovers story we’ve been waiting for! Anyone who was despairing over the lack of season one’s Duke, do not fear: these two more than make up for the loss. 

I’ve long been a fan of period dramas, and I’ve seen just about every Jane Austen adaption to date (you better believe I’m already hyped for the upcoming Persuasion movie starring Dakota Johnson). And I’m certainly not alone! Regency is the most popular subgenre of romance fiction; next time you’re at the library, just take note of how many paperbacks feature dukes and women in period-inappropriate dresses. It’s a lot! But what makes this extremely niche time period so alluring, 200 years later? The Regency period was, quite literally, only nine years in English history (1811-1820). Nine! So what gives? 

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