EW examines prime-time TV's literary choices -- We analyze the parallels between classic literature and shows like ''The O.C.'' and ''Lost''


A Farewell to Arms

EW examines prime-time TV’s literary choices

On Gilmore Girls, Alexis Bledel’s Rory lounged with Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius between breaking Marty’s heart and making out with a work of staggering hotness, Logan.

Plot Parallels
Eggers tells the true story of his Gilmoresque relationship with his younger brother, whom he raised after their parents’ deaths, in chatty, pop-culture-laden prose.

Why it’s Worth Turning Off the TV
Eggers’ touching tale, told with ironic detachment, makes him the perfect young-book-geek icon (as evidenced by Rory’s pinup-style poster of him).

On The West Wing, Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet borrowed adviser Leo’s copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Leo was prepping for a trip to Papa’s home in Cuba, where he met with Fidel Castro.

Plot Parallels
Hmmm, why would grizzled, cynical, recovering alcoholic Leo relate to Hemingway’s semiautobiographical masterpiece?

Why It’s Worth Turning Off the TV
The epic romance between WWI ambulance driver Frederic Henry and British military nurse Catherine Barkley weaves love, death, friendship, and battle together with a gripping starkness.

On The O.C., Mischa Barton’s Marissa explored Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s oral history of punk — at the same time she explored Olivia Wilde’s Alex, Newport Beach’s resident lesbian.

Plot Parallels
Alex wears CBGB’s T-shirts and manages the local indie-rock venue the Bait Shop, but Marissa’s rebellion is pretty innocuous — by Iggy Pop standards, anyway.

Why It’s Worth Turning Off the TV
Sure, that Green Day album is good. Sure, Alex had fun purple-streaked hair. But don’t you want to know what punk really was?

On Lost, Josh Holloway’s Sawyer got headaches from reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and learned he needed glasses.

Plot Parallels
Is show cocreator J.J. Abrams trying to tell us that the castaways — like the kids in L’Engle’s classic — have ”tessered” into the fifth dimension to find their fathers, trapped somewhere outside of time and battling forces of evil? It’s as good an explanation as any.

Why It’s Worth Turning Off the TV
Unlike serialized TV, A Wrinkle in Time actually ends. Story resolution is so refreshing.