Television series adapted from novels are plentiful indeed. But while the Crime, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Historical and Young Adult markets are always well represented – even if we only look at the shows airing this summer, we have Longmire, King and Maxwell, Rizzoli and Isles, Under the Dome, True Blood, The White Queen and Pretty Little Liars as examples – the percentage of them that are pure Romance has long held steady at a resounding zero.
Oh, there have been TV movies, of course: Danielle Steel’s books are a staple of the genre, and Barbara Cartland’s particular brand of historical hijinks have made their mark in the medium (we’ll always love you, Lord Vulcan!). A select few Harlequin Mills and Boon novels have made it to the small screen, and romance-based mini-series abound, with the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice perhaps the most glowing example—though certainly the fractious family sagas of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins and Catherine Cookson, among others, have enlivened many a Sunday night. But when it comes to weekly television series, Urban Fantasy is close as we have come to seeing Romance on the regularly-scheduled air, with Blood Ties and the aforementioned True Blood the most prominent examples.
The strange thing is that romance novel series lend themselves beautifully to the television format, which makes it so peculiar that they have so far been left so unexploited. Not only do they have self-contained stories crying out to be season-arcs, but they also have an enormous built-in audience: the romance novel industry is worth over US$1 billion annually, which is a lot of highly desirable female viewers waiting to be tapped into by a clever network. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Hallmark may well be that network, with their July 20 premiere of Cedar Cove, based on Debbie Macomber’s popular books. And up in Canada, an adaptation of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series is currently under way, which if nothing else will make for a fun game of “Hey, I know that guy from The X-Files/Stargate/Supernatural/Lost Girl/Degrassi Junior High!” (And boy does that kid they have playing live-action Clay have some big shoes to fill.)
Here, some more favorite romance series that could so easily make their way to our small screens...
[Go ahead, picture it...]