By Therese Aseoche
You were either one of two kinds of people in high school English class: the one who loved to read the books or the one who loved to read SparkNotes. Whichever you were, you can’t deny that there exists an across-the-board appreciation for filmed adaptations of literature.
YouTube web series that spun-off novels and authors we’ve read in our childhood have gained popularity over the years, beginning with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries from 2012 which adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
So, if you don’t have the time to sit back and indulge in heavy reading, enjoy these literary web series instead!
8. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
This Emmy-award winning show started a trend of like-themed imitators since its rise to internet fame in 2012. We followed the story of Lizzie, her friend Charlotte, sisters Lydia and Jane, and her eventual love interest, William Darcy. Fans got to interact with the show’s characters through various digital platforms, including Twitter and Tumblr. This isn’t a web series for passive watchers, though; it’s 100-episodes long! But if you’ve ever read Austen’s work, you’d discover how deeply they’ve delved into the novel. And if you haven’t, then this show just might interest you to pick up the book.
7. The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy
Peter Pan was firm in declaring that he’d never grow up, but what if he eventually did? This multi-perspective web series revolves around Peter and Wendy as modern-day adults in Neverland, Ohio, where Wendy is an advice columnist and Peter is a comics artist. Their quirkiness and onscreen chemistry make us easily fall in love with them. But amidst the fun sprinkled over each episode, we find ourselves relating the most to the theme of struggling through adulthood. It’s two seasons long so far, with a third season already underway.
6. A Tell Tale Vlog
Edgar Allan Poe and comedy never mix, but A Tell Tale Vlog does this so well. It tells of an angsty, socially awkward Poe who is “haunted” by the ghost of Lenore as he toils away writing The Raven. The episodes are bite-sized, and would seem to exist merely to make fun of an historic author, but Lenore’s snarky commentary and Poe’s chuckle-worthy fails as a “literary vlogger” are so entertaining that we wish the series wasn’t so short-lived (it only ran for 13 episodes).
5. Jules and Monty
We’ve seen plenty of adaptations of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but two Tufts University students put a new spin on the well-loved classic as Jules and Monty. The fictional relationship between the two characters begins in a fraternity basement where they find out each other’s affiliations to rival fraternities, making their love unacceptable in their respective circles. The difference is that the series takes us away from the usual bedroom setting that viewers of other vlogs have been accustomed to. Each episode is around a challenging 15 minutes long, but the series doesn’t extend to more than 21 episodes. Just make sure you have a box of tissues beside you until the very end for those inevitable tears.
4. The March Family Letters
In this modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the March sisters attempt to document their daily lives to update their mother, deployed for her second tour of duty as an officer in the Canadian Forces. Empowered women, LGBTQ themes, and lots of fun and vibrancy make this web series worth watching.
3. Frankenstein, M.D.
We’ve got something for the murder-mystery lovers, too. Frankenstein, MD stars Victoria Frankenstein who is a graduating med student strongly passionate about science and the power it contains. It does stay true to Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece; yes, even the plot point that brings the dead back to life. It’s not as dark as people would expect, though, and is a valiant effort that makes science look cool.
2. School of Thrones
Okay, George R.R. Martin’s work wasn’t from your childhood, per se, but I still recommend this three-episode web series. School of Thrones takes each house and turns them into exclusive high school cliques: the Starks are hipsters, the Baratheons are jocks, the Lannisters are school bullies, the Greyjoys are loner water-polo players, and Dany Targaryen is the new girl with an obsession for dragons. Prom night is coming, and there will be blood (no, not really).
1. All For One
This recently released web series plays with Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers featuring Dorothy Castlemore, a college freshman doing everything she can do to be chosen for the sorority her grandmother used to be in, Mu Sigma Theta. Similar to The March Family Letters, the web series touches on gender identity and sexuality. It’s light-hearted yet empowering, and definitely a series you should jump onto as soon as possible!
Do you recommend any other web series based on well-known literature? Tell us all about it!