contemporary · Discussion · Young adult

Out Of My Comfort Zone #5

My fifth post in the Out of My Comfort Zone series! If you hadn’t heard about this before, it’s a series of posts in which I talk about my experiences with books/stories/formats I wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

The last post was about middle grade, the next one will likely be about full-length adult contemporary romance.

This post will be about movie adaptations of YA contemporaries.

My History With Movies, and Specifically YA Contemporary Adaptations

I don’t watch them. As a general rule, if it’s on a screen, it’s not for me.

Not because I think movies are bad or that I’m above them or that books are just so much better – it’s that they give me so much anxiety (and often secondhand embarrassment) that watching them isn’t even fun.

Anyway. If we’re talking specifically about YA contemporary adaptations, I think I’ve only seen two, both without really wanting to – one American (The Fault In Our Stars) and one Italian (Bianca il latte, rossa come il sangue). I didn’t like either of them and I watched them just because of friends/classmates, but they basically had the same usual sicklit plot and I never like those.

This time, I’m going to try adaptations of books I liked.

What I Watched

mv5bntmyzddimzutzjcxns00mjc3ltljy2utyji4ymy5nzjlyjc1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymta5otkwntc40._v1_sy1000_cr006771000_al_Love, Simon (2018) an adaptation of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli [book review here]

I mostly like this because I’m glad it exists.

So. It wasn’t bad, but I had already seen so many gifs of this movie that I felt like I was rewatching it, and it still gave me so much secondhand embarrassment. I liked it, mostly, because I like the plot and characters, and I think it’s a pretty faithful adaptation while working perfectly even if you haven’t read/don’t remember the book.

I can say that the biggest thing I didn’t like about the book – the overwhelming pop culture references and complete lack of atmosphere – weren’t a problem here, so I think I would have liked it more than the book… if I ignored my inherent problems with this format. But those inherent problems take away a lot. I wish I could have found it cute and funny, but that’s just not how my brain works.

However, it did make me want to read Leah on the Offbeat, so…

ivb5-ps35vaTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018), an adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

Again, I mostly liked this because it exists and because of the aesthetic. I’m glad this cute romance with an Asian-American main character got adapted, and the settings are beautiful.

However, this was emotionally exhausting. First, the secondhand embarrassment? So much of it. Not because this movie is more cringe-y than the average romcom – it didn’t feel like that to me, I can’t watch most of them and I did finish this, even though I just wanted it to end – but again, my brain just can’t with many things on a screen.

Also, there’s something about straight romances – or, to be specific, the tropes associated with straight romances – that tires me so quickly, and it’s true for many books, but for movies it becomes unbearable. The whole “I take away your hair tie because I prefer your hair down”, the drama with exes, it’s just… hhnng. And I really think it’s a genre thing and not this movie’s problem, so this is a reminder that I shouldn’t get swept up into the hype.

Will I Watch Other YA Contemporary Adaptations?

…maybe? I mean, I can’t say this went well, but it was still an interesting experience. One I don’t want to repeat anytime soon, but I could do it again, eventually. (Because when something gets hyped, I want to know!)

Things I learned from this attempt:

  • I think the reason I never get invested in movies is that the feelings of anxiety and/or secondhand embarrassment are so strong that they overpower everything else I might have felt about the storyline or the characters
  • I can’t imagine people doing things like these to themselves often and for fun but I guess that’s the beauty of human diversity and human brains
  • In both of these cases I preferred the books for the reason above, but I’ve noticed that YA contemporary adaptations tend to be more accurate than the YA SFF ones, or at least it feels like that to me
  • I still liked them more than the old sicklit ones! But it’s mostly because the overall quality of contemporary has improved so much in my opinion
  • not exactly “learned”, but it reminded me of how alien America feels to me. With books, it’s easier to ignore because I make up the setting in my own head, as contemporary books usually don’t bother to describe it.

Anyway! If you want to recommend me or just tell me about your favorite YA adaptations (both contemporary and SFF), I’d really appreciate that, because I’m curious – even thouhg I’m not sure I’ll watch them. Also, while I do know people who have Netflix, I don’t have it myself (it wouldn’t make sense, I watched more things for this post than I did in all of 2018), so I’m usually not in the condition to watch things that are only on it.

Have you watched/liked any of these?

14 thoughts on “Out Of My Comfort Zone #5

  1. I’ve never heard the term “second hand embarrassment ” before, but I know exactly what you’re talking about. I don’t go to see movies that often either, but for me it’s because they’re too loud and that really bothers me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t go to see them for the same reason, but when I’m watching things at home and that’s not a problem, it’s more the embarrassment/anxiety that makes it not a fun experience.


  2. Is the second hand embarrassment tied to what the characters go through on screen or your expectations of the adaption not being met? I’m always apprehensive about adaptions because I’ve been let down so many times. I almost feel embarrassed to have it in the world and think that there are people who will never read the book and so their impression of a particular book or YA in general is marred by a horrendous adaption. Interesting discussion as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By what the characters do, at least in these cases – I felt like these two were more or less accurate as adaptations (…or maybe I have really low standards? So many of them are such a let down, it’s true), but I have to say that I don’t remember the books in detail, as I’ve read them both only once and months ago.
      And thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an interesting post! I am not a big movie watcher meself because I prefer books but I enjoyed yer take on these YA releases. Thanks for sharing. So it it all types of situations that give the secondhand embarrassment effect? The only movies I won’t watch are horror because I find most of them silly and/or stupid and unrealistic so I am bored. The first mate likes them though.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think the secondhand embarrassment effect for me is more common in movies that are trying to be funny, which is why it was especially intense in TATBILB, as it’s a romcom. I don’t watch horror either, but that’s because I’m sure it would end up giving me anxiety, and probably not in a fun way.


  4. i loved Love, Simon!! i prefer it to the book because of the exact reason you’ve mentioned. also i watched it before reading the book so i had nothing to compare to, that’s probably why i was able to enjoy it a lot more. i liked To All the Boys mostly because i’m glad that it exists too, even though objectively the movie isn’t that good.

    i almost never watch YA adaptions tbh. i love movies, but i feel like a lot of them are hastily made to ride the hype of the books, which just makes them lackluster and simply bad, even to people who haven’t read the books at all. YA adaptions can be good if the studios care about making good movies, but that’s usually not the case.

    what do you think about YA books being adapted into TV shows though? it looks like the new trend for YA adaptions (or an old trend coming back) and i’m a bit conflicted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think TV show adaptations have the potential to be both more accurate because they have more space and less accurate because they need more filler content, but I can’t really say – I’ve never seen one and I know that I wouldn’t be able to watch them (this was already too stressful).

      And yes, with YA it often feels like the film are there just to make money and don’t really stand on their own, but I feel this is more true for SFF than for contemporary – so many of the SFF adaptation look and feel cheap in every aspect.

      Liked by 1 person

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