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10 book-inspired TV shows coming in 2017

The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's famous novel. Set in a dystopian future where women have no rights, the tale follows Offred, a handmaid whose sole purpose is produce children for her keeper, The Commander.


The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's famous novel. Set in a dystopian future where women have no rights, the tale follows Offred, a handmaid whose sole purpose is produce children for her keeper, The Commander.



In a time when the glut of primetime network television is melodramatic cop sagas and cheesy family comedies, it's refreshing to see more and more book-based series pop up. Books and comics often provide a solid starting point to create a substantial series with more potential for a long run.

The 2017 television season promises another hefty batch of shows inspired by literature. These are just 10 of them.


Emerald City, NBC  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

More than 100 years ago, L. Frank Baum introduced readers to the world of Oz, Dorothy's adventures to find a wizard and the loveable characters she meets along the Yellow Brick Road. Fast forward to 2017 and The Wizard of Oz has been adapted into numerous movies, TV specials and stage plays. On Jan. 6, NBC gives fans another adaptation  Emerald City. This isn't the cute story you know and love. It's darker, with elements of epic fantasy and magic. You may even forget you're watching a show about Dorothy's experiences in the Emerald City. Don't expect to find cute Munchkins or kind scarecrows or optimistic singing. The Wicked Witch of the West is the least of Dorothy's worries. Jan. 6


A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix  A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The melancholy series about three orphans you loved in middle school makes its way to the small screen in January. A Series of Unfortunate Events is possibly the most buzzed-about show of the winter TV season, especially after fans got a peek at Neil Patrick Harris as the vile Count Olaf. The book series by Lemony Snicket follows the Baudelaire children after they lose their parents in a mysterious house fire. Through 13 books, the trio have to outsmart Olaf and his gang of greedy minions who stop at nothing to claim the childrens' inheritance. The books toe the line between quirky mystery and macabre sci-fi, and are perfect for young readers as well as adults. We're just hoping the series does the beloved books justice, unlike the 2004 film starring Jim Carrey. Jan. 13


Riverdale, CW  Archie Comics

After almost 80 years of documenting the life of Archie Andrews, his friends and classmates and the goings-on in small town Riverdale, a live action adaptation was an inevitability. And with more than seven decades of antics, there are plenty of stories to tell in the CW's new Riverdale show. K.J. Apa plays the titular redhead with Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones. From the show's trailers we can see this version of Archie's world quickly takes dark turns, plopping the beloved characters into cases of mysterious deaths and love triangles. There's also plenty of room for appearances by Moose Mason, Mrs. Grundy and Josie and the Pussycats. Jan. 26

Z: The Beginning of Everything, Amazon  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

While there's plenty known about the infamous Fitzgerald marriage, there isn't as much from Zelda Fitzgerald's (Sayre) point of view. Published in 2013, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, offers a fictionalized account of her life, from her Southern upbringing in Alabama to the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1940. And coming at the end of January to Amazon Prime is a small screen adaptation of this eye-opening novel from Therese Anne Fowler. Starring Christina Ricci as Zelda, Z: The Beginning of Everything moves through her life before meeting the then-unpublished writer and into their love affair and marriage. Period dramas are so hot right now, and we are dying to see the glitz and glamour of the 1920s through Zelda's eyes. Jan. 27


Legion, FX  Marvel Comics

Though not a household superhero name like Captain America and Spider-Man, Legion (David Haller) is arguably one of the most powerful mutants. He first appeared in New Mutants #25 in 1985 and is the son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. According to the comics, David suffered trauma at a young age, which caused his mutant powers to manifest. He gained telepathic abilities from his father, but also gained the power to absorb minds from people in their last moments before death. Because of the trauma of absorbing another's mind at a young age, David developed multiple personalities based on those he heard in his head. Like most comic-book based shows and films, it's doubtful FX's Legion will follow the books precisely. But from trailers we know a large part of the first season deals with David's (Dan Stevens) diagnosis of schizophrenia and his stays at multiple psychiatric hospitals. Feb. 8

Big Little Lies, HBO  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel was another hit in her line of beach reads. Big Little Lies expertly balances humor with darker themes like domestic violence as it tells the story of three mothers who struggle to show their lives as perfect as possible. Jane (Shailene Woodley) is a young, single mother who just moved to the area. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) hates that her daughter from a previous marriage is growing close to her ex-husband's new wife. Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is stunning and rich, but is being abused by her husband. The end of the book culminates in a drunken argument at a trivia night that ends in exposed secrets and tragedy. HBO's dark dramedy is full of big movie stars and comes from one of TV's most prolific producers and writers David E. Kelly (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal). Feb. 19


Iron Fist, Netflix  Marvel Comics

First appearing in 1974 in Marvel Premiere #15, Iron Fist (Danny Rand) is a master of the martial arts and wielder of the mystical force Iron Fist. Through Iron Fist Danny is able to summon and focus his chi. He learns his vast skill set after a tragic accident and betrayal kills both of his parents, setting him on a journey to the mystical city of K'un L'un. In the Netflix series, Danny returns to New York City to reconnect with his past and fight the criminal elements plaguing the Big Apple. Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) plays the fiery Iron Fist. March 17


The Handmaid's Tale, Hulu  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel isn't about lovably damaged teenagers fighting to save the world or overthrow a sinister dictator. It's a glimpse at the United States after a terrorist attack leaves it vulnerable enough to be controlled by an extreme religious movement. In this world, women have no rights. They are categorized into wives, daughters, aunts, handmaids, marthas, unwomen and jezebels. Their only purposes are to be mothers and wives to the ruling men in the Republic of Gilead. The book is told from the perspective of Offred, who serves as a handmaid to The Commander. Hulu takes the reins on this literary classic with Elizabeth Moss as Offred, Samira Wiley as Moira and Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford. Don't wait for the small screen adaptation. The Handmaid's Tale is a must-read for anyone with a conscience, really. April 26

Coming later in the year

The Son, AMC

If you're a fan of sweeping Western family sagas, The Son is definitely for you. Based on the novel from Philip Meyer, The Son follows the McCullough family through the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil boom in the 20th century. The novel was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and Pierce Brosnan plays patriarch Eli McCullough in AMC's adaptation reportedly coming in March.

American Gods, Starz

If ever there were a time to showcase Neil Gaiman's masterpiece on the small screen, it's the year after one of the country's most divisive elections. The novel meshes Americana, fantasy and mythology to create a sweeping piece of literature. The book proposes that gods and creatures exist because people believe in them. As time goes on, people stop believing in the old spirits and new ones arise that reflect America's obsession with celebrities, technology, drugs and other things. The show will star Gillian Anderson, Emily Browning, Ian McShane and Dane Cook, among others. Spring 2017

[Last modified: Friday, December 30, 2016 9:47am]


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