The Hunger Games TV Series

I’m a TV lover, I also love film, I can name a smattering of favorite films more quickly than I can tell you the Hunger-Games_imagesquare root of anything, and I’ll readily admit that when I graduated with my BA in English, that I was 16 credits shy of a film studies minor (16 credits is two terms of work). So when I say I love film, I’m being honest. Over the last several years however, TV has become a staple in the few hours of downtime that are mine throughout the week. I do go see the occasional film though, but it’s not a weekly occurrence, more in part to the fact that I’m a self-proclaimed film snob, and refuse to spend my money on crap, and there’s a lot of crap out there in those cinemas. So, yep– TV, and books are my go to sources of entertainment. Over the last three years, (that’s how long I’ve been a writer for Victor’s Village), several television series have come to the forefront, they’re popular, they’re critically well received, and more than one of them is based on previously known, and beloved book series. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and just this past August Outlander has been added to the list. These series have strongly moved me, and without remorse I admit have changed my mind. I believe The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins would have made a phenomenal television series rather than a series of four feature films.

The Hunger Games on the surface is a different animal from book series like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or a graphic novel series like The Walking Dead. The main protagonist, Katniss, is a teenage girl for one thing, but she’s not your average teenager. This is one reason I think The Hunger Games would have worked on TV. Putting aside the ever present stigma of plucking a Young Adult novel off the shelves, and attempting to adapt it into something the masses would devour off a screen. It is a tough task, but it’s not impossible. if they had attempted to make it into a television series, they could have thrown the Young Adult label out the proverbial window, and built the world of Panem into the gritty, oppressive, vast, frightening, beautiful, and fascinating place that it became when we all read about it for the first time, instead of the glimpses, and sometimes mild impressions we’ve gotten so far from the film franchise. Television affords an almost no-holds-bard playground for producers, writers, and directors, and sadly films, especially if they’re supposedly geared to a particular demographic, is kept on a tight leash so to speak. This is where I admit that I do not think that Lionsgate has gone far enough where it comes to the plot, the subject matter, or the settings of The Hunger Games series. I know why as well, it’s because they’re boxed into time constraints, budgets, and the ratings requirements. The requirements that only allow one F word to be used in a PG-13 film, and only if the word is uttered not in reference to sex– yep, those requirements.

I’m a big fan of character development, I’m also a big fan of characters from books not being cut, or combined, or simply put– if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series the following questions never would have been asked by book fans: Where’s Madge? Why is that old lady giving Katniss the Mockingjay pin? Where’s Peeta’s dad? Doesn’t Gale have like 10 immediate family members, where the hell are they? Where’s Lady? Why did they change the time line, and make Peeta and Katniss teenagers when the Burnt Bread Scene happened, aren’t there like a million child actors who could have done that for them? So, is the old lady who gave her the pin in the movie Greasy Sae, does she have a name… what’s her name!? Doesn’t Peeta have brothers? Where’s the mayor of District 12, y’know Madge’s dad? Um, Delly Cartwright, has she been cut too? What happened to those beautiful, moving scenes between Katniss and Lavinia? What the hell happened to Lavinia? And Venia, so she’s gone, did she die, she died didn’t she? Why is Effie in District 13? And my question… Where the hell are the fluffy killer squirrels? That’s right folks, if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it’s safe to say that none of the questions above would have been asked, no new characters would have been invented, no previously known characters would have merged, been cut, or truncated. Nada. The only thing that could have happily happened to all of those plot points, and characters is this– they would have been expanded, realized, and appreciated– including, god forbid, Katniss and Prim’s parents.

And this is where I admit that if The Hunger Games had been made into a television series, it would not be sharing the same network as shows like Modern Family, Bones, or NCIS. The Hunger Games television series would be on a network that puts out programs like Game of Thrones, Shameless, Outlander, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Knick, The Walking Dead, Rectify, and Sons of Anarchy, it would be on cable. And it would be on cable TV,

That was a fun episode

That was a fun episode

because to properly depict the horror, and the shame of having children being forced to play a game of kill or be killed, or the sexual exploitation of revered champions, forced marriages, mental breakdowns of the very un pretty kind, torture, violence, destruction, war, and revolution– you’d need a network that says “yeah, film in three countries at once!” or “Yes, you can set up a camp specifically to train day players to play walking corpses!” Or, “yes, film in Scotland, BUY ALL THE PLAID IN THE WORLD, and yes… you can totally show us that guy getting whipped nearly to death. And don’t worry your pretty little head, full frontal nudity is very OK!” And if you think that those made up statements aren’t based in reality, I assure you they are– and the shows they’re based on are all still on TV, are popular amongst viewers and critics, and are adapted from novels, and graphic novels.

Just picture it now, an entire episode dedicated to the cave sequence, instead of a few short minutes?

And scene!

Them There Eyes

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. I think about this a lot. Imagine 13 episodes for The Hunger Games. 13 hours for JUST THE FIRST BOOK. And 13 more for next. And the next. The time, the detail, the lack of weird MPAA standards.

    I still want this someday. Maybe 10, 15 years. The themes of these books will certainly still be relevant then.

  2. Great point about the flexibility and expansion that tv affords vs film.
    And these days, the gap in effects between film and tv is narrowing, especially if you do go with HBO.

    I’d actually say that if there’s ever a HG series, I’d actually say that it’d be better if Katniss remains a background character, especially since a lot of the stuff you mention is made to be a surprise.
    It’d be a wonderful way to expand upon Panem’s society, like good fanfiction. And like GoT, have it a revolving POV to do different facets. If we’re sticking with canonical characters, I’d say: Plutarch, Paylor, Thread, Darius (yeah I already have a Peacekeeper POV with Thread, but this could show the grunt side before transitioning to life as an Avox), a member of the prep team, Boggs, Cecilia, and Cashmere.

  3. I completely agree. There are some books that would make good movies and others that would work better as either TV series or mini-series. As an editor in training, the first thing they teach us is that we need to choose the right format for each published material and here’s the same thing, not every single book or book series works best as a movie. But there’s a certain view of YA products that seems to believe that a) YA books are only read by YA audiences until proven otherwise and b) YA audiences watch movies, no matter how crappy. This worked terribly for His Dark Materials series (that would have been a fantastic BBC mini-series, if you ask me) and The Mortal Instruments, to name a few examples, but ever since Harry Potter (which does work well as movies, in my opinion), everyone else also adapts into movies (and splits the last one in two parts even if there’s no reason for it, like with Breaking Dawn). I think there’s a direct link between the underestimation of the YA audience from the companies that own the rights of these books (and not just The Hunger Games) and the fact that we unquestionably get movies, no matter how squeezed-into-2-hours and sugar-coated-to-avoid-R-rating they are. Sadly, it seems that the only validation this demographic can get is if it gets audiences OUTSIDE the demographic interested. YA adaptations (like The Hunger Games) are seen as successful when they get to bring to the theaters people outside their demographic, “””proper adults”””, as if validation came from them and not from the ones who have made the books popular.

  4. This is so, so true. I agree completely. Why, oh why does a novel like Mockingjay have to be shoehorned into a PG.13 blockbuster format?? It doesn’t even begin to fit! One reason is what Luly mentions; the YA stigma. Underestimation not only of the YA audiences, but of THG’s broad appeal. Another reason, I think, is that the notion that the quality of TV can be as good as or better than movies, is still relatively new.

    To make an HBO mini series out of all three books would be a dream…Even if we have to wait ten years. Even if we have to sacrifice Jennifer as Katniss.

  5. Never thought about this, but great point. If done correctly this would have been amazing. The exploration of the themes and characters could be done much better in a TV show format. Hour long cave scene…. *dies*

  6. I agree that THG certainly could have provided fodder for a TV series, but, as Isabel noted, ONLY if it is done correctly. As a GOT fan who’s become quite disillusioned with the TV series, I wouldn’t say “cable TV adaptations are always superior than commercial movies”. TV budgets have their own limits, and own set of commercial pressures, especially when airing on networks known for being “gritty” and “hardcore” — I’m sure an HBO version of the series would be much more graphic than the PG-13 movie versions, BUT “more graphic” doesn’t equate to “better”, IMHO. (And note that cable TV isn’t totally libertarian, either, GOT certainly dodged a lot of issues about underage sexual exploitation, when they aged up Dany and the Stark children, and I believe that was partly for legal reasons regarding child porn laws.)

    Sure, cable TV has more freedom to “properly depict the horror, and the shame” the tributes go through in Panem, BUT just because, say, a cable version of, say, Cato’s demise would likely not have been sanitized, what if it had been depicted in a “torture porn” type of way that invited the audience not to be shocked and outraged, but to be titillated, the same way Katniss notes the Gamemakers intended? And IMHO it’s even more difficult to depict sexual exploitation on camera without glorifying it than to depict violence on camera without glorifying it. I really don’t think GOT is doing a great job of either lately.

    Yes, the movies have made creative choices that can be questioned, but I think that there;s more to it than just “what we have now is the best they could do because of the limits of movie adaptations”. And if a TV series version of THG ever gets made, I guarantee that such a series would STILL take liberties with the original source text and provide fodder for nitpicking purists with checkiists in hand, because visual media is very different from the written word.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s