When I was in school, hardly anyone wanted to read the classics because as they said: “All this thee and thou language goes over our heads.” Thankfully the Internet is not just for reblogging and retweeting and liking your friend’s “Cinnabon is love” status update. It is a place for creation and often the occasional adaptation of a classic. And so I present to you, four web-series you should add to your watch-list.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Only the greatest love story ever told. This Pride and Prejudice vlog series recounts the classic tale from Elizabeth’s point of view as she completes her graduate studies in mass communication and is frequently caught up in her family’s shenanigans. If you have seen the Keira Knightley adaptation and the BBC miniseries countless times (I know I have), it is time to get obsessed with a new adaptation. Note: It is addictive, you have been warned.
Will Jane Austen’s reign as perfect author of novels to be adapted ever end? NEVER! This Emma update introduces us to Emma Woodhouse, lifestyle consultant and matchmaker extraordinaire! She runs a consultancy in which she is bettering (read: meddling in) the lives of her clients and friends. Her business partner, Alex Knightley warns her not to meddle but Emma just wants to make the world a better place, a wink and a flower at a time.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre
This series is dark, broody and Gothic, like the original tale that it is based on. In the book we are following Jane through her written “diaries” but this series is her recording her thoughts in video form. The videos feel rough around the edges like they could’ve used better editing but that lends a homemade and personal feel to them and you get a really good sense of Jane’s character. I have to admit some of the scenes where she is alone in the dark and recording are creepy and totally riveting. You will be up till 3 am to watch, just a heads-up.
Alice Rackman is an English major who one day gets a bad grade because according to the professor, she is not engaging emotionally with the text. She decides that the best way to do that will be to live her life according to classic novels. From Crime and Punishment to Macbeth she tries to use the lessons from them to make better decisions. It doesn’t always go as planned and there is a lot of heartbreak and misplaced intentions along the way. Perfect viewing if you have ever asked yourself, What Would Jane (Eyre, Austen) do?
These web series are perfect for intorducing classics to a younger audience and hey, if you’re an English teacher show them to your students. Italo Calvino said: “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say,” and these modern series are a testament to that statement.