Over the years we’ve seen some great book-to-screen adaptations of films like The Life of Pi, A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club or more recently, Little Women. While some may continue to argue that novels are almost always better than their on-screen adaptations, there’s no doubt that films like The Shining or To Kill A Mockingbird have done great justice to the books. But it’s not always films, shows get adapted from novels too. We list down 5 shows on Amazon Prime Video that are superb book adaptations…
The Night Manager
With power-packed performances by two seasoned actors, Hugh Laurie (as Richard Roper) and Tom Hiddleston (as Jonathan Pine), The Night Manager is a six-part series that’s one rollercoaster of a ride. Based on the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré, The Night Manager kicks off in chaotic Cairo where Pine works as the night manager of a luxurious hotel. He quickly finds himself in a situation where he’s enlisted to go undercover in illegal arms dealer Roper’s home. Laurie’s menace and deadpan humour mixed with Hiddleston’s suave sincerity (can he please be considered as the next 007?) makes this a killer binge watch. Directed by Susanne Bier, who’s also directed films like Brothers (2004), After the Wedding (2006) and Bird Box (2018), the series was nominated for a whopping 36 awards out of which three Golden Globes went to Hiddleston for Best Performance, Olivia Colman for Best Performance in a Supporting Role, and Laurie for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor.
The Handmaid’s Tale
One of the best dystopian novels ever written – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood – gets brilliantly adapted on-screen in this fierce and disturbing drama. It shows a frightening world where a totalitarian government of Gilead establishes rule in the former United States. This follows a second American civil war that subjects fertile women called ‘handmaids’ to child-bearing slavery. The series follows the story of a particular ‘handmaid’ June Osborne/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) who desperately wishes to be reunited with her daughter Hannah someday. The show portrays the suffering of women and the control of men over their bodies. It is tough to watch but it’s also impossible to ignore. Don’t miss it.
Masters of Sex
Loosely based on Thomas Maier’s biography Masters of Sex, the series follows the journey of two pioneering researchers of human sexuality – Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan). The four-season series can seem slow at times but it uses this time to flesh out each character well. The performances of both Sheen and Caplan also more than make up for the pace. Set in the 1950s through the late 1960s, it’s Caplan who especially shines as a sexually adventurous, divorced woman in the 1950s. The series not only won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series in 2013 but Sheen also received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Masters. Be patient with Masters of Sex, and I promise you won’t regret it.
Michael Sheen strikes again! Based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, this six-episode fantasy miniseries stars Sheen as Aziraphale, an angel, and David Tennant as Crowley, a demon. Both Tennant and Sheen, as representatives of Hell and Heaven respectively, give a solid performance and it is their dynamic that shines in this funny and dark comedy. The series is an interesting interpretation of the book because a lot of new, additional elements have been added to make it more contemporary. Also, don’t miss the incredible Jon Hamm as the Archangel Gabriel, the leader of the forces of Heaven!
Yes, we know Modern Love is not based on a book but a beloved and popular The New York Times column of the same name, but it’d be a sin to leave such a wholesome show out of this list. One episode into the show and you’d end up ugly crying and smiling at the same time. Each episode showcases a different personal love story from the renowned column and packs it into short 30-minute episodes. It celebrates romance in all its forms – the good, the bad, the ugly. Also, look out for a wonderful cast – from Anne Hathaway to Dev Patel to Catherine Keener to Tina Fey. Hathaway, in particular, stands out with her pitch perfect portrayal of Lexi, a young woman struggling a bipolar disorder. Amazon has already renewed the series for a second season, so watch out!
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video.