This past Saturday was my monthly Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) meeting. The program topic was “How to Write an Awesome Remake or Reboot” by Erin Coughlin.
Shakespeare’s the standard for adaptations, whether it’s a straightforward summer stage production or a modern take. “Ten Things I Hate About You” sets the plot of “Taming of the Shrew” among high school students in Seattle, and updates the gender politics as well. Jane Austen is another popular go-to. Pride and Prejudice alone has been revamped countless times, most recently in the fun summer romp Fire Island centered in the LGBTQ community and featuring Asian men in the lead roles.
Since there’s a version of just about every myth and fairytale in all parts of the globe, they offer the opportunity to create a unique story that’s universally recognized.
Remakes and reboots of works from the past few decades have become popular recently. Two remakes of The Equalizer TV show from the late 1980s have happened. I love Denzel Washington and Queen Latifah, yet who can replicate what Edward Woodward did with that role?
So, what are my favorite remakes? Let’s get into it.
My Top Five Remakes and Reboots
Clueless. The iconic 90s adaptation of Jane Austin’s Emma is one of my favorite movies ever. I’ve watched it countless times and often refer to it for plot and structure studies. One of the reasons this movie works so well is the warm heart at its center. The main character, while clueless and shallow in the beginning, is a truly caring person with good intentions. I made my mom watch it and we started trading inside jokes over quotes like “I’m having a Twin Peaks experience” and “I had an overwhelming sense of ickiness.”
High Fidelity, TV show. When I heard that Hulu was doing a race and gender bending TV adaptation of the 2000 movie starring John Cusack, I was not impressed. Do we really need this, I said. Turns out, yes we do. Over the first pandemic summer I decided to give it a shot and it became my quarantine therapy. Zoë Kravitz is finally given the opportunity to shine, and the chemistry with friends/co-workers Simon and Cherise is a true joy. Like Clueless, it’s definitely one of those shows that I quote or refer to way too many times. Also, I recently rewatched the original High Fidelity and was like, wow, it’s chock full of toxic masculinity. So, yeah, it was most definitely time for a race and gender-bending reboot. And the playlist is off the charts.
Out of Sight. This late 90s movie starring Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney is an adaptation of the book by Elmore Leonard. It’s smart, witty, fun, fast-moving, and the sexual tension between Lopez and Clooney sizzles onscreen. Also, the hilarious father daughter relationship dynamic helped me shape one of my most popular characters in one of my manuscripts.
The Carrie Diaries. This CW show was based on the Carrie Diaries young adult books written by the original Sex and the City author, Candace Bushnell. It re-imagines Carrie Bradshaw as a teenager in the 1980s. First of all, the two actresses portraying young Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones channel their Sex and the City counterparts so well it’s uncanny. Plus, hello! It’s the 80s. In New York City. Fashion, romance, teen angst, music, adventure, girl power. All things I eat up with an ice cream scoop. The show did a good job examining the gender and sexual politics of the time in a smart way that wasn’t preachy. It lasted for only two seasons, and that’s a damn shame.
She’s Gotta Have It. The 2-season Netflix series was Spike Lee’s update of his own movie from the 80s. It follows the escapades of a woman who openly has sexual relationships with three men at the same time. In the original movie there wasn’t really a term for polyamory. It more focused on the main character’s sexual appetite and refusal to be tied down by one man. The TV series more directly explores the idea of non monogamy. Whether it’s done well or accurately is another story. The things I do like about the show are the captivating DeWanda Wise, the amazing soundtrack, and the modern interrogation of the sexual double standard. I also appreciate that it gets a little deeper into what it might actually be like to be a working Black female artist in New York City.
What are your favorite remakes and reboots? Let me know in the comments.
I am so pleased to read this blog. When you think about it, there are a LOT of remakes out there. One of the lessons I took away from the program is being original can just mean taking something familiar and viewing it through a different lens.
I agree, Louise! It’s fun to think about new ways to tell eternal stories.