Thoughts on Watching the TV Show Before Reading the Book

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confession: I vow to read the book before seeing the show or the movie its based on. However, it never always happens that way.


There are tons of advantages to reading the book first because you actually get to form your own opinion before the film ruins it for you. With the Outlander series, I promised to read it before seeing the show. It's just the book is the size of a monster, with super thin pages and small font. On a particularly lazy day, I decided I've waited long enough and watched the show in a matter of a few weeks. I didn't read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon until much later, before the second season of the show came out. I don't regret reading it after as both the show and the book are absolutely fantastic. Here's some thoughts on seeing the show before reading the book:

It makes more sense.

I don't know about you but the Outlander books take me ages to finish. I can't pinpoint why because each one is storytelling at its best with gorgeous character development and amazing settings. I adore the series. However, in a way, I am glad that I saw the first two seasons of Outlander before reading the first two books. Having done that, it seems to make a little more sense in two ways. (1) I don't know if I miss sentences here or there while reading since the font is so small. Or maybe the book itself is filled with little gaps that do not transition into the next scene. Somewhere, I get lost along the way and if I was just reading the book (without having seen the show), I would have lost some meaning of where the characters were headed. Since I saw the show, I know at this point, this happens so the show is close enough to the book that I can usually fill the gaps that here they've changed setting or they've moved on to this. (2) I seem to be much more sympathetic to why the show didn't add this scene or why they added this scene but not that one. As a show, Outlander translates very well on screen but there is just so much you can add in a season as an adaptation of a 800 page book.

Outlander tv season 2 sad what GIF

It's like getting extras of the TV show.

I absolutely love watching extras, behind the scenes and bloopers after finishing a show. It is so much fun to see what the cast went through into bringing the story to life. The book has more to offer than the show. Outlander, the TV show, can't fit every little detail on to the screen. It would become way too long. On the page, Diana Gabaldon is able to portray her characters in a timeless story where readers are connected to the characters. When reading the scenes that were not in the show, I felt like I was watching the extended version inside my mind. 

Outlander tv season 2 beer drink GIF

I already knew what was vaguely going to happen.

As much as some parts made a little bit more sense, as I stated above, this is probably one of the many downsides of seeing the show first. The show won't always be the same or so closely adapted to the book. But, with Outlander, the show and book are amazingly similar. A lot of the scenes are taken straight out of the book.

Outlander tv season 2 starz vision GIF

I can see it visually already.

This is another downside. Just like, having seen the first few Harry Potter movies and then going back to rereading the books, you can't unsee Daniel Radcliffe as Harry or Emma Watson as Hermoine. Same goes with Outlander. The characters in my head are not of my own making. I see Sam Heughan as Jamie and the rest of the cast as all the other characters.

Image result for cast of outlander

Most of the book is in 1st person, whereas the show is in 3rd person.

This is definitely something of a change. The show, in order to be more well rounded, it can't just focus on Claire and her thoughts. The show gives us more structure, chronologically,  to the story. For example, simultaneously two scenes will be happening. The show will be able to portray that. Whereas, in the Outlander book series, Claire-- our protagonist-- sees only what she can see. She may not know about this other scene happening at the same time. So, there were many times in the book that I knew what had happened but Claire did not know at that point. She bases her opinions on what she knows, of course, so it was difficult to feel the same way, to feel connected to her, because I already knew what had happened.



Have you ever seen the movie/show before reading the book? 

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1 comments

  1. I try to read the book before watching the show/movie, but it doesn't always happen that way! It's not a bad thing, though, like you said! I remember watching The Martian before reading the book, and when I finally got to the book, I read the whole thing with Matt Damon's voice in my head, so that was kind of cool!

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