Some of you might remember my article a little while ago listing the movies that you could be watching for that Pride and Prejudice feel without actually watching the movie. Nowadays, there are many different ways to share your creativity, and more people are helping expand the love of classic books by creating webseries based on the characters and storyline, filmed in short little episodes so that you can watch at your leisure. Some are still in production, with new videos coming out every week, and some you can enjoy the entirety of without having to be left on a cliff hanger.
For those classic novel readers, here are some webseries from youtube that you may thoroughly enjoy.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre based on the novel Jane Eyre
While there are times that it seems odd she should be filming, the series is quite enjoyable, making the characters seem real and alive. While this is probably one of the hardest ones to adapt, they used inventive ways to bring the characters to life. The writing was phenomal, and the style and acting choices made by the cast and crew were quite clever, most notably in the side video that was made to "promote" Rochester's business and showed the party that was thrown, bringing to light his dark side and how fake he believed his friends were, making his appreciation for Jane and her honesty about him in her videos that much more palpable. The cast was amazing, especially the actor for Edward Rochester, in a real and heartbreaking portrayal of the character. When he explains his past to Jane, and the subsequent effects that the revelation causes, you feel and see that pain in everything he does.
The actress who played Jane was sweet and a little naive, and her love of tea was downright endearing. The characters were at times funny, serious, and a little out of this world and it made the series that much more enjoyable and a quick and easy one to watch.
Green Gables Fables based on the novel Anne of Green Gables
If there was ever a character that would lend to the dramatics and want to show herself and share her story, it would most likely be Anne Shirley. The little orphan girl, Anne finds herself in the foster home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. She finds herself in all sorts of shannigans, and vents a lot about this person, "you-know-who" from school quite a bit. As the series goes on, more and more of her friends make guest appearances, being the voice of exposition at times. The sweet actor who plays Matthew is probably the best guest of them all in the videos, with a quiet and calm presence that is the perfect contrast to Anne. The most unforgettable scene for me is when they have a sit down and he tells her that she is his girl. The two actors have a sweet chemistry, and connection, that makes even the coldest of hearts want to melt.
The plot of season 1 spans over the course of the first novel, and the team is in pre-production for season 2, based on the second novel in the series.
Emma Approved based on the novel Emma
This webseries is another that makes sense, as Emma Woodhouse documents her success as a matchmaker. While it does seem a bit odd that someone could make a living off of that, if anyone could do it Emma could. Some of the side business is life coaching helping people to become the best them they could be, most notably her assistant-turned-friend Harriet Smith. Through trials and tribulations, she makes her mistakes but picks herself back up with the help of brother-in-law (don't make the mistake that they are related!) and business partner, Alex Knightley.
One of the best scenes of the series doesn't involve them, but when Harriet shows her true feelings about Robert Martin, affectionately known as B-Mart, and makes a 100 paper cranes for him which fall from the ceiling.
This show is incredibly sweet, and definitely makes you empathise with Emma who is a little more mature than Cher who portrayed the same character in Clueless.
The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy based on the novel Peter Pan
This webseries took a bold move, making the characters adults and setting it in "the real world". Peter, Wendy and her brothers have grown up their whole lives in the little town of Neverland, Ohio where they all work at the paper that is run by their father. Peter is a grown man who is not willing to give into the tropes of being an adult, and writes the comics for the paper while Wendy does video blogs giving advice to the readers of the paper.
They had a clever way of making the characters modern day while keeping the essence of what the characters were. Wendy is the one with the kind nature and motherly advice and dreams of traveling outside of her small world of Neverland (as opposed to wanting to travel to it) John is made into kind of an OCD man (one of his best quotes and scenes is when he is dressed as an indian and cries "I MUST CLEAN!"), Tiger Lily is a rich mogul, and Michael and Peter are the boys trapped in a man's body.
The characters are likable, the writing is clever with many one liners, and there is even a Tinkerbell though she is usually the camera. There is a slight drug reference in their use of pixie dust, but don't worry fairies do exist and the pixie dust does not have a lasting effect.
I think Peter is made most likeable because he is played by one of the creators of the series. One of the best scenes so far has been when Peter comes to visit Wendy and they talk about how they met before he whisks her away for her birthday.
For those that fret over the lack of Captain Hook, don't worry. Season 2 is now in post production
The March Family Letters based on the novel Little Women
This series is still being released weekly, and is one that is quite enjoyable. While the March girls father is unfortunately dead, they have taken to making video blogs to their mother Marmee who is in the army. Jo is a film school drop out, trying to come up with screen plays and often filming snippets of her story that wind up on the channel. Beth is shy and tries to stay off camera as much as possible, but does come out and play the guitar while singing a few times. Amy is a hipster that does a lot of the "fashionable" things for the videos, such as a video where her "boyfriend" Laurie does her make-up and can often be found wearing huge fake glasses for that "hipster" look. And Meg is the no nonsense sister who is the mother of the group, trying to get everyone settled and taking care of the house.
There is a lot of fun to be had in the episodes, and there is a definite family aspect to it, one of the best parts to watch is the argument between Jo and Amy playing out on the camera after Amy destroys her hard drive. My favorite episodes, however, are when they are acting out Jo's screenplay, shot in one take and with crazy costumes and theatrics.
The sisters have a lot of heart and it's great to watch
This show is still being released weekly on youtube.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries based on Pride and Prejudice
Probably the most famous novel to webseries on youtube, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries follows Elizabeth Bennet as she works on her college thesis, acting out the insane scenarios that happen to her complete with costumes and different voices for each person in her life, regularly dragging her sisters and best friend, Charlotte, in to join her in the video.
It is hard to describe this series correctly, as there are so many different facets to it. The actors are all incredible, Lizzie acting out events in her life in a slightly overdramatic way is hilarious, and each of the actors embody the role they are meant to portray believably. We don't get to see the parties, but we get to see the aftermath and meet each character eventually along the way. We don't even get to meet Darcy until WELL into the series, and yet when we finally do thanks to the scenarios we had seen he doesn't disappoint.
A lot of the weight falls on the Lizzie actress' shoulders, and she carries the series incredibly well. She has a good hea on her shoulders, and a biting tongue, with an awareness of the world around her, just like her creator did.
Darcy is well portrayed and one of the best scenes of the series is when he gives her a business proposal, which she flatly refuses and he asks her why she has such disdain for him. She tells him to watch her videos and he just looks at her and asks "What videos?" the look of horror on her face is priceless, and the actor had a believable confusion.
While so many of the stories could have come across as fake or hard to believe in the setting, it's really the confidence and surety that the actors give it that makes it believable. You can suspend disbelief for the time the videos take to play to believe that they have to stay with Bing Lee because of an infestation at their house. That Lizzie would get to travel to all of these different businesses to complete her thesis. That they are letting their lives play out on camera, and also believable why the characters might not have found them yet. There is also another vlog that runs alongside it, done by her sister Lydia chronicling what is going on in her life up until her "scandal" of which the update for is just BRILLIANT.
It's the perfect marriage of classic and modern, and it is definitely a must watch for any Jane Austen fan
All of the series can be found on youtube, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, and The March Family Letters can all be found on the youtube channel "Pemberley Digital"