I’m back with more great pairings between things to stream (shows and films) and things to read — which is honestly just one of my favorite things to write about. The world is filled with so many great stories in different formats and I want to know them all and then share them all.
However, it would be weird to not note that this round of doing these show/film to book pairings does feels a bit different since in the time between me pitching the assignment and sitting down to write it, the Writers Guild of America has gone on strike. Hopefully, by the time this publishes the striking writer’s will have gotten fair contracts.
Below I have great shows and films across multiple streamers that range from huge hits to things that have gone below the radar but are absolutely worth your streaming time. You have a bit of everything including dystopians (feeling less and less like fiction); mother-daughter duos in crime; resurrected dead cheerleaders and mysteries that need solving; a fiction and nonfictional therapist’s couch; sleuths that are human lie detectors; feminist historical mysteries based on real life lawyers; creative new takes on superhero stories; and Black women friendship groups. Get comfy and enjoy all the stories that await you!
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
About the show: A dystopian show about people down on their luck and in debt who get mysterious invitations to play children’s games for a huge cash prize. The games however are deadly. (trailer)
About the book: A dystopian novel set in the U.S. where a private prison system has taken over and those incarcerated can fight in death matches for freedom, something set up as entertainment for the masses.
What they have most in common: Dystopians with deadly games used to show society’s ills.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
About the film: Darby Harper avoids the living, spending most of her time helping the ghosts she can see move on. When the school’s popular girl dies, she demands that Darby fix her image and convince her friends and family to still throw her her huge birthday party, even if she’s dead. (trailer)
About the book: Mila Flores is certain that her best friend didn’t take her own life, but no one believes her so she does what any girl would do and conjures up a spell to bring her best friend back. She does partly succeed and resurrects Riley, but she also brings back two recent dead girls who she hates. Now they have seven days until the spell ends to find out how to work together and solve their mysterious deaths…
What they have most in common: Dead cheerleader needing help from living non-friend, humor, and enemies finding friendship.
The Hollow Inside by Brooke Lauren Davis
About the show: Think Gilmore Girls but darker, and with a murderous mom. Georgia has spent her life fighting for herself and raising two kids while moving regularly. Now her teenage daughter Ginny might finally get to put down roots in a wealthy small community after the death of her stepfather, but it seems that Georgia’s past is coming for her… (trailer)
About the book: This opens with 17-year-old Phoenix sent to rob a home by her mother Nina, which tells you what you need to know about their relationship. Now Nina has decided to put in play her next plan: return to her town and ruin the life of the man who ruined her life, and she’ll need Phoenix to carry out the plan…
What they have most in common: Both have crime and mysteries, dark humor, women all in on revenge, and mother daughter relationships that aren’t the healthiest.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
About the show: One therapist, in a group practice, has yet to deal with his own grief over his wife’s death and suddenly starts yelling at patients and telling them exactly what to do to “fix” their lives. (trailer)
About the book: In this collection of essays/memoir, Gottlieb takes us into her life as a therapist who needed to see a therapist after a bad breakup. It’s a fascinating read that takes you into her life from working on the set of ER to being a therapist, her sessions with certain patients, and her path through her own therapy. You will feel all the emotions.
What they have most in common: Watching a therapist(s) with their own problems, while being a fly on the wall for their therapy sessions with patients. Both balance heartfelt and funny.
The Lost Ones (Nora Watts #1) by Sheena Kamal
About the show: Charlie Cale doesn’t understand how it works but she automatically knows when someone is lying. After a murder at the casino she works at, she’s forced on the run to save her life. As she travels the country, she keeps running into mysteries that she figures out. The fun of this show is how every episode features different characters, always taking on new mystery tropes. (trailer)
About the book: Nora Watts is a loner secretly living in the basement of her job where she’s a receptionist and research assistant at a PI firm. But she has to leave the comforts of whatever home she’s attempting to create when the parents of the child she long ago put up for adoption has gone missing and her past comes for her…
What they have most in common: Both MCs operate as human-lie detectors, solving mysteries, while not having much in the way of friends and family, and going on cross-country trips.
The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry #1) by Sujata Massey
About the show: Lidia Poët is barred from practicing law because she’s a woman and while trying to appeal ends up solving mysteries and working on cases through other means. (trailer)
About the book: In the early 1920s, Perveen is a solicitor working with her father in Bombay when her father gets a new case involving three widows and a will. Perveen thinks there is something off and sets off to figure it out, all while we also learn Perveen’s recent life history…
What they have most in common: Both are feminist historical mysteries with women fighting for rights and solving mysteries as lawyers during time periods when it was illegal for women to be lawyers. And both are based on real women in history.
Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser, Robyn Smith
About the show: A touching and hilarious show about four best friends living in Harlem and trying to figure out their lives while supporting each other. (trailer)
About the graphic novel: Interconnected short stories take you into the lives of Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie in the Bronx, centered around wash day experiences that are vehicles into their daily lives, loves, struggles, joys, and friendship.
What they have most in common: A group of four friends in NY with the ups and downs of life, filled with a range of emotions including Black joy.
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
About the show: A hilarious dark comedy that also randomly veers ridiculous which feels like a fresh take on the superhero story. In this alternate world of ours, people around the age of 18 discover what their superpower will be. Some powers are useful like flying and some are, well, being able to print things from your 3D printer butt. Except Jen is now 25 and still has no power, so she’s having a bit of a life crisis and hijinks, hilarity, and some life lessons (maybe?) ensue. (trailer)
About the book: In this world if you’re okay with working or want to work for a supervillain, there is an agency for you. As you can imagine, thanks to superheroes and other factors, job turnover is high and many constantly find themselves back at the agency in need of a new job. This is how Anna finds herself working data entry for a supervillain — until things take a turn…
What they have most in common: Fun, fresh, creative takes on the super hero story.
The Old Woman with the Knife: A Novel by Gu Byeong-mo, Chi-Young Kim (Translator)
About the film: An action thriller that follows Bok-Soon, a single mother of a teenager who doesn’t know she’s a contract killer. She works for an organization of contract killers and a kill goes wrong, politics get involved, and she has to fight to stay alive. (trailer)
About the book: Hornclaw is a 65-year-old contract killer who is about to find out what happens when a killer for hire reaches the age of retirement… especially after an error on an assignment…
What they have most in common: Starring older South Korean hit women with a look at their current life predicament and how they came to be — neither shies away from violence.