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The Book Isn't Always Better: 7 TV Shows That Outshine Their Books

House of Cards, Dexter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all have more in common than just being on your Netflix queue.

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While literature is usually considered more intellectually gratifying than film, there are exceptions to this rule, including TV shows that outshine their own books. So the next time your friends call you out for “wasting your time” watching TV, you can tell them to shut up because these seven shows are far better than their books:

1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?

With music and special effects that remain haunting, and tour de forceperformances from actors like a young Ryan Gosling, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was much richer than itsGoosebumps-like book series. The emphasis on the skill and importance of storytelling as an art even comes across better in the show. With the utterance of “submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society” and the bombastic throwing magic dust (actually just powdered coffee creamer) onto the fire, Are You Afraid of the Dark? had all of the components of a TV masterpiece. In its book series, the type of dialogue that works well in the show is too trite without the powerful visual scenes and that oh-so-eerie intro to set the mood.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Yet another show that was so successful it earned, or was cursed with, a novelization. The Buffy book series is noticeably missing the camp charm of the show (or even that of the movie, also penned by Joss Whedon). The literary manifestations ofWhedon’s WB pièce de résistancepossessed a similar amount of cheesiness but somehow don’t come off quite so ingeniously. Granted, the artistry of the graphic novels gives Marvel and DC a run for their money, and so in that sense, it does hold a faint candle to the show. However, Buffyverse (that’s right, Buffyverse) novels display an unwanted, almost encyclopedic comprehensiveness when it comes to illuminating the lore and history behind Buffy’s heritage as a slayer. It’s as though it was written expressly with Giles in mind.

3. Sex and the City

The first “modern” take on love in New York, Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City was released in 1996, and women were never the same — until, that is, the show came out in 1998. The series begins with a very close representation of what appears in the novel, with many phrases lifted directly from the book, including “welcome to the age of un-innocence” and “Cupid has flown the co-op,” but direction from filmmakers like Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) and Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan) also lent the show a fresh, distinctive aesthetic and tone. And then, of course, there are the legendary fashions of Carrie Bradshaw. Practically a character itself, Carrie’s fashion sense is something that the TV series was able to capture more succinctly than Bushnell’s novel ever could.


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