Author Archives: Sabienna Bowman

The True Story Behind Can You Ever Forgive Me? Is a Literary Nightmare

By | October 8, 2018

On Oct. 19, fans of Melissa McCarthy are going to see the actress in a completely new light. The comedic star of Bridesmaids and Spy is taking on the role of real-life author and forger Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Early reviews of the film suggest there could very well be an Oscar in McCarthy’s future, and it’s no wonder, given that her performance looks transformative in the trailer. As intriguing as the film looks, the true story behind Can You Ever Forgive Me? is quite possibly even more fascinating.

Israel’s path to a life of crime and her seeming lack of remorse for forging letters from famed authors (and outright stealing priceless artifacts from libraries) make her a character like no other. But the best part is, Israel is all too real, and she was more than happy to share the story of her foray into a life of crime with the world. Read on to find out how one author went from being a (mostly) mild-mannered historical biographer to one of history’s most prolific literary forgers.

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11 Shows Every Great British Bake Off Fan Needs to See

By | October 3, 2018

The Great British Bake Off is a bit like the television equivalent of a hug from a good friend after a hard day. In each episode, a group of genial contestants compete in mind-boggling hard challenges that sound benign on the surface – like Cake Week – and then have their baked goods judged by the steely-eyed Paul Hollywood and, depending on which season you’re watching, the grandmotherly Mary Berry or new judge Prue Leith, who is usually kinder than Hollywood, but who will occasionally deem something “not worth the calories.” Thankfully, that’s about as taxing as this supremely relaxing and unique competition series gets.

On any given episode, you can find the competitors cheering each other on, hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc (or Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig in the most recent seasons) offering words of encouragement to amateur bakers sobbing over melted chocolate, and a big group hug with lots of happy tears at the end of the hour. It truly is a special series, but there are a few other shows like The Great British Bake Off out there.

While nothing is quite as good as watching Hollywood give a baker one of his patented handshakes, the shows on this list will leave you feeling generous toward humanity at large. Like The Great British Bake Off, they’ve found the perfect recipe of competition, warmth, and humor to keep viewers coming back for more. Best of all, they’re all streaming in America, making your next favorite comfort show just a few clicks away.

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Think The Deuce Is Too Crazy to Be Based on Real Life? Think Again

By | September 26, 2018

David Simon and George Pelecanos’s The Deuce is back for a second season of exploring the dark side of New York City’s 42nd Street. Given the way the show mixes fact and fiction to create a complex picture of the ’70s NYC sex work and porn scene, it’s no wonder that people are unsure how much of The Deuce is a true story. The answer to that question is just as complicated as keeping up with the sprawling cast of characters led by stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco. Ultimately, the HBO series aims to tell a factual story with dramatic flair. Every character doesn’t have a direct real-life counterpart for the audience to point to, but there are often a number of people inspiring the fascinating characters on the screen – the same goes for the places.

The Deuce is a unique series that drops fictional characters onto the gritty streets of 1977 New York in order to tell a story about the porn industry, mobsters, pimps, and the women who worked those dangerous streets. It’s not all true, but the parts that are inspired by real people and events are so much stranger than fiction.

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The This Is Us Premiere Was Dedicated to a Special Person

By | September 26, 2018

Week after week, This Is Us tells stories about family, love, and loss. Many of those stories make us cry, but we keep coming back because the show never avoids the tough topics that affect all of us. The season three premiere is no different, and it carries its message of love straight through to the very end with a dedication to a man named Alex Hanan.

As reported by the Lung Cancer Foundation of America, Hanan died on Monday, July 23, 2018, after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was in his early 40s at the time of his death and was a close friend of This Is Us series creator Dan Fogelman.

When he was first diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2014, Hanan started a blog to chronicle his journey. His entries are emotional and funny, and they offer insight into the kind of wonderful person he clearly was. In an entry entitled “I Got This,” he shared an anecdote about comforting his doctor when the man had to deliver the news that there was no cure for his cancer. Hanan revealed that he told Fogelman the story over breakfast, and Fogelman said, “You consoled the doctor while he was giving you the worst news in the world? Who does that?”

Despite his terminal diagnosis, Hanan continued to work, travel, and live his life even as he battled his cancer diagnosis. Additionally, he was extremely open about his experience after receiving his diagnosis, as evidenced by his raw and detailed blog entries. It seems that he had many friends who worked within the entertainment industry – an Instagram post suggests that Hanan worked for Pandora – and at least one of them has already responded to seeing their friend honored on This Is Us. After the show, freelance writer and author Jasmin Rosemberg tweeted:

“The In Loving Memory on tonight’s This Is Us paid tribute to friend/fellow Brooklyn native Alex Hanan – the kindest, most jovial guy you could ever cross paths with in LA. He’d mentioned Dan to me once, circa 2012 – how fun it was to see his screenwriter friend’s career skyrocket.”

Hanan’s life truly impacted so many other people’s, and it’s beautiful to see Fogelman pay tribute to his friend by dedicating the premiere to his memory.

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This Is Us Has a Secret Weapon, and Her Name Is Lyric Ross

By | September 25, 2018

Image Source: NBC

Have you dried your eyes after watching the season three premiere of This Is Us? The show kicked off another year of tugging at our heartstrings by having Déjà ask her biological dad for the perfect gift to give Randall. Of course, Randall is more than happy to simply know that Déjà is ready to become his adoptive daughter for good. Now that Déjà is officially joining the Pearson family, it’s time to get to know the talented young actress who brings this nuanced character to life every week. Lyric Ross is a virtual newcomer in Hollywood, but you would never know it, thanks to the way she holds her own in scenes with her This Is Us foster parents, Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson.

According to her résumé, Ross’s first role was in a Bollywood film called Dhoom 3, although the mysterious project isn’t listed on her IMDb page. A quick internet search reveals that the movie is about a man who seeks revenge after his Chicago circus is closed. It’s unclear what role Ross played, but that’s such a wild premise that it might be worth tracking down anyway. Bollywood film aside, the young star’s most notable pre-This Is Us roles were guest appearances in the USA series Sirens and NBC’s Chicago Fire. Both of those roles were small, but Ross’s talent must have shown through because it wasn’t long after that she landed the role of Déjà.

Image Source: Getty / Lisa O’Connor / AFP

Déjà first appears on the scene in season two when Randall and Beth decide to become foster parents. Ross immediately stood out in a cast that’s packed with talent. In fact, she carries an entire episode focused on Déjà’s backstory all on her own. Her performance is subtle, nuanced, and a joy to watch. That makes her promotion to series regular in season three totally unsurprising and welcome at the same time.

Now that Ross has made her mark on TV, it seems that Hollywood is already calling her to the big screen. The 14-year-old starred in the indie film Rogers Park in 2017, and soon she’ll be playing Mekhi Phifer’s daughter in the 2018 film Canal Street. It seems pretty clear that this is just the beginning of a long career for the gifted Ross, but we can’t help but hope she’ll be on This Is Us for many more seasons to come.

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Claire Foy Has Been in Way More Than Just The Crown – and Her Biggest Roles Are Yet to Come

By | September 20, 2018

Newly minted Emmy winner Claire Foy is best known for her carefully crafted performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, but she’s about to make a major splash in Hollywood. Now that she’s passed the British crown over to Olivia Colman, Foy is set to star in two major blockbusters this Fall. First up, she’ll star alongside Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong’s wife in the astronaut biopic First Man. Then on Nov. 9, The Girl in the Spider’s Web hits theaters. Based on the fourth novel in the famed Millennium series, the actress will undergo a total transformation from the Queen of England to cyberpunk hacker Lisbeth Salander. Before you head to the theater to catch Foy’s new film roles, let’s take a look back at the amazing career she’s had so far.

Foy’s first television role was a small appearance in the BBC paranormal drama Being Human in 2008. Sadly, her character doesn’t make it out of the pilot alive. That didn’t slow the actress down at all though. From there, she landed her first major role in the miniseries Little Dorrit. Based on the Charles Dickens novel, Foy starred as Amy Dorrit, a young woman who lives in a debtor prison where she cares for her father. Romance and tragedy follow, as is the way with all things Dickens, and as a result, Foy was given an opportunity to show her full range as an actress for the first time.

In 2011, the future star of The Crown landed the role of Anna in the Nicolas Cage film Season of the Witch. As a young woman accused of being a witch, Foy shined, even though the movie itself didn’t resonate with viewers. Soon, the actress returned to her period drama roots in the ’30s set Upstairs Downstairs and the ’60s set White Heat. In 2014, she took on a different kind of period role in NBC’s short-lived pirate drama Crossbones, where she played an adventurous woman torn between two very different men. She followed up Crossbones by going even further back in time to play Anne Boleyn in the critically acclaimed 2015 miniseries Wolf Hall.

Then, in 2016, Foy took on the role that made her a household name stateside and abroad and that would ultimately win her an Emmy in 2018. Foy landed the lead in Netflix’s ambitious British royal family drama, The Crown. As the young Queen Elizabeth II, Foy allows viewers to watch a young woman transform into a powerful ruler, even as she continues to struggle with marital issues, being a mother, and not losing her sense of self. It’s safe to say that The Crown took Foy’s career to the next level and led to her film roles in the period romance Breathe, which costarred Andrew Garfield, and the psychological drama Unsane.

Now that Foy’s time on The Crown has come to an end, she seems poised to become Hollywood’s next go-to star, and that’s good news for her many fans.

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Before Beautiful Boy Hits Theaters, Prepare Yourself With the Real Story

By | September 19, 2018

Since the moment the trailer was released, it’s been clear that Beautiful Boy is designed to make us sob our eyes out. The upcoming film stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet as father and son, David and Nic Sheff. The casting alone is enough to make us want to see the film, but the fact that Beautiful Boy is based on a true story makes its subject matter all the more poignant. This isn’t just a film about a father and son’s complicated relationship; it’s a movie about addiction and the toll it takes on both addicts and their families. The real-life David and Nic published memoirs about their experience with Nic’s meth addiction, and the film draws inspiration from both. In this way, Beautiful Boy can give equal weight to Nic’s struggle and his father’s journey to find a way to help his son.

The true story of these two men is heartbreaking and hopeful, which can only mean that the movie will be powerful as well.

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That Beautiful Emmys Proposal May Have Made History

By | September 17, 2018

If the Emmys gave out a trophy for the most romantic gesture of the year, then director Glenn Weiss would have two statuettes for his mantel after his moving onstage proposal to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen. The moment brought the crowd to their feet and a tear to many viewers’ eyes (if Twitter is any indication). But did Weiss just pull off the first award show proposal? It was definitely an Emmy first, but it seems there’s been at least one other couple who got engaged in front of a Hollywood audience. (And no, we’re not talking about Andy Samberg and Kit Harington’s faux Emmys proposal from 2016, even though that was pretty great.)

As reported by Variety, Ryan Sirois and Chris Heller upstaged Johnny Depp with their adorable proposal at the Make-Up and Hair Awards in 2014. The pair weren’t being honored at the event, but a friend of Heller’s helped organize the show and make their magical moment happen. Still, it seems that award show proposals remain rare, and is it any wonder when the stakes are so high? Of course, it’s next to impossible to say no when they’re as heartfelt as Weiss’s.

Weiss took home the award for best director of a variety special for his work on the 2018 Oscars, but he would probably agree that the best part of his evening was leaving the stage an engaged man. The director used his speech time to pay tribute to his mother, who recently passed away, and to pop the question to Svendsen. He said, “Part of my heart is broken; I don’t think it will ever be repaired . . . Mom always believed in looking for the sunshine in things, and she loved my girlfriend, Jan. You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.”

An emotional Svendsen came up on the stage to say yes, and an iconic Emmys moment was born. Meanwhile, people everywhere realized they’re going to have to majorly up their proposal game after this.

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The 28 Most Spooktacular Halloween Movies to Watch This Holiday Season

By | September 12, 2018

The season of pumpkin spice everything, candy corn, and scary movies has arrived. And you know what that means: it’s time to rewatch your favorite Halloween movies. When the temperature is dropping and nostalgia is running high, there’s comfort to be found in the familiar scares of Poltergeist or the childhood memories of Hocus Pocus. Each year, Hollywood releases new scary movies in the hopes that they’ll attain the same iconic status, and some of them actually succeed. Still, it’s the tried-and-true greats that fans of all things spooky return to year after year. While there are a few new classics on this list, the majority of these films are certified Halloween favorites. Because come on, can Halloween even come if you don’t watch The Nightmare Before Christmas?

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The Star of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Is No Stranger to Netflix (Pun Intended)

By | September 7, 2018

Netflix’s rom-com domination continues with the delightful Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. The film finds the central character accidentally catfishing the boy of her dreams when he texts her by mistake. What follows is a teen rom-com for the technological age that asks serious questions about perception, self love, and romantic connections. But who is playing the titular Sierra Burgess? The one and only Shannon Purser, a young actress who is best known for stealing everyone’s hearts on Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things.

Purser’s breakout role is undeniably Barb. The puffy-jacket-rocking, no-nonsense best friend of Nancy on Stranger Things wasn’t long for this world, but in just a couple of episodes, Purser made a lasting impression. Barb is every nice, nerdy kid who got stuck waiting outside at a pool party while their pal was inside hooking up. As a result, her death led to an outcry from fans who pleaded for “Justice For Barb,” which the character thankfully gets in season two of the Netflix favorite, thanks to Nancy.

Since her role on Stranger Things ended, Purser has become a certified Hollywood up-and-comer, with roles on Riverdale and the short-lived NBC series Rise. Before you watch her super-relatable Sierra fall hard for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before‘s Noah Centineo, take a look back at all of the other beloved characters that the talented Purser has played so far.

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A Million Little Things Is Inspired by a True Story – Here Are the Details

By | September 6, 2018

The Fall TV season is almost upon us, and one show is already standing out from the crowd. ABC’s upcoming friendship drama A Million Little Things is drawing comparisons to This Is Us, and it’s easy to see why. All of the trailers for the show have been full of emotion, suggesting that this series will be all about giving you a serious case of the feelings, just like the Pearson family’s drama. Having another show full of heart and incredible actors on your to-watch list is never a bad thing, and now is the perfect time to find out everything you need to know about A Million Little Things. September is just around the corner, and the friends at the center of this ABC drama are just waiting to win you over.

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These Are the 12 Most Riveting YA Books of 2018

By | August 21, 2018

The sheer number of quality YA books that have been released this year is incredible. Who can be angry about the year wrapping up when it’s been spent reading captivating novels about kick-butt zombie fighters, unique coming-of-age tales, and some seriously chilling mysteries? With new releases from YA rock stars like Sabaa Tahir and Becky Albertalli, there’s been no shortage of instant must reads, but first-time authors have truly stolen the spotlight. Authors like Tanaz Bhathena and Melissa Albert have exploded onto the scene with unforgettable debuts that have fans of the genre begging for more.

The list of every amazing YA title of 2018 would be a long one, but these are the 12 best of the year so far and the perfect place to start if you’re looking to catch up on the must reads before the end of the year.

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The 13 Most Chilling Horror Books of 2018

By | August 21, 2018

As 2018 prepares to blow away like the falling Autumn leaves, now is the perfect time to catch up on the spine-tingling books that have been released this year. The horror and thriller genres are virtually indistinguishable these days, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Both genres are all about giving readers the chills, and 2018 has definitely delivered on the scary page-turner front. From a new entry from horror maestro Stephen King to a startling book that casts a child as the ultimate villain, this year’s horror offerings have been diverse to say the least. But which horror books are the most worthy of your time? We’re partial to these 13 new releases from the past year that kept us up at night.

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Craving More of The Kissing Booth? Watch These 25 Shows Instead

By | July 6, 2018

The Kissing Booth landed on Netflix in May, and it immediately became a cult hit. Elle’s sweet friendship with Lee, and her smoldering romance with his older brother Noah, singlehandedly made teen romantic comedies a thing again.

While the genre has been languishing at the box office since its last revival in the early ’00s, it’s been thriving on the small screen. If you’re looking for shows that will make your heart skip a beat the way it did when Noah’s lips met Elle’s at the school carnival, showcase life-long friendships as beautifully as the movie’s opening montage of sweetness did, and add in a dash (or a cup) of high school drama, then you’ve come to the right place. These 25 shows feel like they were made for fans of The Kissing Booth.

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35 TV Shows That Capture the Insanity of Being in Your 30s

By | July 5, 2018

Here’s a secret that the world appears to be trying to keep quiet: being in your 30s can be just as confusing as being in your 20s. Despite what the movies tell you, there’s an excellent chance you won’t have it all together by the stroke of midnight on your 30th birthday. Or your 35th. Or even your 39th. You may still be searching for career fulfillment, your love life might still be a hot mess, and you will definitely hear your favorite song from your teen years on the golden oldies station. It’s a weird time, and thankfully, it’s one that TV has chronicled in beautiful, excruciating detail.

From shows about parenting woes to series that prove there’s no expiration date on fresh starts, these shows are for anyone staring down the big 3-0 and beyond.

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25 Teen Movies That Will Give You High School Flashbacks – All on Netflix

By | July 5, 2018

Netflix has made a major push into the teen-movie game in recent months, and the results have been delightful so far – come on, you know you’ve watched The Kissing Booth at least a dozen times by now, too. There’s no doubt that the streaming service is reawakening our love for teen movies, and, thankfully, Netflix has its share of unforgettable titles about high school, friendships, and first love tucked away in the service’s vast streaming library. In fact, there are so many funny, heartbreaking, and downright classic movies about teens available to stream, you could spend the next few months channeling your 16-year-old self and swooning over Chad Michael Murray all over again.

From new favorites to ’80s classics, these are the 25 best teen movies streaming on Netflix right now.

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Anne With an E Is Filmed in the Most Unexpected Location

By | July 5, 2018

Anne Shirley and her beloved Green Gables are being introduced to a new generation thanks to Netflix’s period drama Anne With an E. As any fan of the book series knows, Prince Edward Island is the home of Green Gables and Anne’s many childhood adventures. The stunning island was also where author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the novels, which were first published in 1908. Gorgeous though it may be, Canada’s Prince Edward Island is relatively small, and, according to thelocationguide.com, it doesn’t offer a great deal of tax incentives for filmmakers. As a result, filming there full-time would be pricey for an ongoing series – and that’s exactly why the series is primarily shot in a different, and much more affordable, Canadian city.

In an interview with the CBC, executive producer Miranda de Pencier confirmed that Anne With an E is filmed almost entirely in Ontario, Canada. De Pencier cites the cost of relocating the crew and cast to Prince Edward Island for the entire filming period of a season as the primary reason that Ontario is being used as a stand-in for the island. While she noted that the series does have a larger budget than your typical Canadian program, it’s still not enough to move 200 cast and crew members to the island for filming. Instead, the show has found ways to bring a little bit of Prince Edward Island to Ontario.

One way that the series captures the island’s special look is by recreating its red roads (which aren’t found in Ontario). De Pencier explained to the CBC that the production team hauled crushed up red bricks around with them in order to turn any street into one of Anne’s famous red lanes. Additionally, the show shot some scenes for both season one and two in Prince Edward Island. In the interview, de Pencier said, “We banked a lot of material that we’ll be using throughout the season. It was important so we could go back to Ontario and make sure we were getting P.E.I. right. It was really wonderful to be able to feed the Island into the souls of our actors and our key crew so that we could bring that knowledge to the production every day here in Ontario.”

Anne With an E isn’t the first version of Anne of Green Gables to utilize Ontario as a Prince Edward Island alternative. As reported by Mental Floss, the 1985 miniseries starring Megan Follows was largely shot in Ontario, as well. The beauty of Prince Edward Island is undisputed, but it seems that Ontario makes far more sense as a shooting location in order to bring Anne’s story to life on the small screen.

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The True Story Behind This New Documentary Is Mind-Boggling

By | July 5, 2018

The new documentary Three Identical Strangers tells the story of triplets separated at birth. A reunion of three identical brothers who had no idea the others existed would be powerful stuff all on its own, but there’s way more to the story. According to USA Today, director Tim Wardle wants audiences to watch his documentary with as little knowledge about the Stranger Things-esque circumstances surrounding the triplets’ separation as possible, but some parts of this story are just too fascinating not to share.

According to Wardle’s interview with USA Today, the story began when Robert Shafran attended his first day of community college in 1980. Shafran couldn’t go anywhere on campus without someone calling him Eddy. Ultimately, Shafran contacted Eddy Galland, and together the brothers realized they were both adopted and shared the same birthday. Neither set of their adoptive parents had any idea that the baby they had adopted also had a twin. They definitely didn’t know that their children were actually triplets. After Shafran and Galland’s incredible story made it into the papers, the adoptive mother of a third man, David Kellman, realized her son was identical to the other two boys. As reported by The Guardian, it was soon discovered that all three of the boys were adopted from New York’s Louise Wise Adoption Agency. None of the parents who adopted the boys had ever been told about the other babies.

The triplets later found out that in 1961, Manhattan’s Child Development Center began an experiment based around separating twins and triplets and placing them in homes of varying incomes. These children were then visited yearly in order for their development to be examined, with an ultimate goal of seeing what was more important in terms of raising a child: nurture or nature. Wardle told USA Today, “They made it a condition of the adoption, like, ‘This boy is already signed up to be a part of this normal childhood development study. We would really like it to continue.’ They didn’t say you have to do it, but it was implied that if you don’t, you won’t get the kid.”

Due to the controversial nature of the study, many details surrounding it are unknown, including the exact number of children who were separated. Peter Neubauer, the study’s lead psychiatrist, died in 2008. Before his death, he had the documents relating to the study sealed at Yale University under the condition that they cannot be made public until 2065. Neubauer’s research assistant, Natasha Josefowitz, is still alive and agreed to be interviewed for the documentary. Wardle describes talking to her as “chilling,” according to The Guardian. Wardle told the outlet, “She would talk to me about how much of what I’ve done in my life was a function of biology and genes, how little agency I had, which was kind of mind-blowing.”

As for the triplets, in the immediate aftermath of discovering each other, they became famous. They appeared on talk shows together, and the country was enamored with the story. However, the reality of their relationship wasn’t as picture perfect as it seemed. Three Identical Strangers delves into the idea of nature vs. nurture and how Neubauer’s study ultimately shaped the course of these three men’s lives.

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23 Books That Need to be Adapted Into TV Series ASAP

By | June 28, 2018

In the past decade, book-to-TV adaptations have expanded beyond PBS Masterpiece fare (although those are still great, too) to full-on must-see TV. Hits like Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies, and 13 Reasons Why were all books first. Frankly, this is a trend we want to see continue, because our bookshelves are overflowing with stories that would be perfect for the small screen.

In fact, some of the books on this list have already been adapted into films, so clearly Hollywood is on the same page. However, this disparate group of novels all have one thing in common: they deserve way more than two hours to unfold. The characters in these books deserve to come to life over the course of multiple seasons, and maybe even become monster hits à la Game of Thrones.

From YA favorites to sprawling sci-fi series, the books on this list are all perfect for TV.

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8 Netflix Original Movies That You Need to Watch This July

By | June 23, 2018

Netflix has been seriously stepping up its original movie game lately. June set the bar especially high thanks to instant classics The Kissing Booth and Set It Up. Can July reach the same dizzying heights? Only time will tell, but the streaming service has eight new original movies that are just waiting to dazzle you. Sadly, July’s lineup is light on romantic comedies. However, if you love scares or family bonding, prepare to stay in and pop some popcorn, because Netflix’s newest original movies could be perfect for you.

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