I don’t talk about web series too often–because I watch too much TV as it is and adding multiple web series would be absurd. Although there was that time that I tried to convince the world to watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. But I’ve noticed, as many others probably have, that fictional web series are becoming more and more popular. The CW network even launched it’s own website to host its four original web series called CW Seed. With the increase of quality writing and production values in web series, as well as the shift toward watching more media on web devices, it’s no surprise that the audience for this kind of medium is growing.
Although I don’t keep up with all the web premieres and continuations as well as I do with television, there was one series I was particularly excited for: Emma Approved. The series was created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, the minds behind Pemberley Digital (the hub for all these series.) Their immediate follow up to the LBD was Welcome to Sanditon, an interpretation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon. Now, Pemberley Digital is adapting a more well known Austen novel with Emma Approved: Emma (obviously.) Although Emma Approved is only on it’s 8th episode, I’m already in love.
Modernized Emma by Jane Austen
Alright, let’s get this out of the way as early as possible: I admit that I haven’t read Emma. (It’s on my list!) But I did see Clueless, the 1995 film that was also a loose adaptation of Austen’s novel. However, other than the inspiration, Clueless and Emma Approved have very little in common. Emma Woodhouse (Joanna Sotomura) is a life coach/entrepreneur who runs the matchmaking and lifestyle division of the developing Highbury Partner’s Lifestyle group with her business partner Alex Knightley (Brent Bailey.) Emma even has an intern to help with all the work she’s doing, Harriet Smith (Dayeanne Hutton.) Although we aren’t too far into the story, which I’m assuming will be 100 episodes like the LBD, I’ve already fallen as much in love with these characters as I did with those in Clueless–hey, it’s a classic. Emma has been adapted many times, but never quite like Emma Approved. I’m seriously tempted to pick up Emma at a local bookshop so I can properly appreciate how Emma Approved has updated the story.
It’s safe to say that Emma Approved has started off on a better production foot than the LBD. Perhaps it’s a tie-in with Emma’s micro-managing, perfectionist character, but the videos are very polished. Emma Approved also uses some of the fun digital tools introduced late in the LBD series like Pemberley Digital’s on screen video calls. However, Emma Approved hasn’t gone too commercial. The videos are still shot in a vlog-style as Emma is documenting her greatness for when she receives her future lifetime achievement award in lifestyle excellence. (Do they even give those out?) So of course the videos have to be excellent production quality for when Emma hands them over the documentary editors (of course.) But my favorite part of the videos are the little edits made in post-production. In the LBD, Charlotte would sometimes draw on Lizzie’s face; in Emma Approved, every time Emma winks a little ding! sound is added. It’s hilarious and I love it.
Brought to You by Hank Green and Bernie Su
Although I’m not the type of person to watch a movie just because it won an Oscar, or a television show because it won a Golden Globe, I think it’s worth mentioning that Emma Approved is created by an award-winning team. The LBD won an Emmy award for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media, as well as two Streamy Awards, for comedy writing and interactivity. Aside from the awards–although they are rather impressive–if you liked the LBD as much as any of the fans, then Emma Approved is worth checking out. Green and Su proved that they were able to adapt a classic novel to modern times in a way that was unique and lovable. They’re doing the same thing with Emma Approved, which I think is a greater test of this new series than the LBD’s awards. (Though I’ll be rooting for Emma at next year’s Streamys.)
Emma and Knightley!
I don’t know that I’d necessarily call Emma a love story (at least, from what I know of it.) Sure, Emma falls in love and ends up with the man she loves by the end (I think, I’m mostly going off of Clueless. I swear I’ll read the book soon.) However, I think it’s more about one woman’s journey to be less of a control freak and focus on her own life more than her friend’s lives. That being said, from the very first video I was excited to watch Emma and Knightley’s relationship develop. They’re both great characters in their own right–though we haven’t seen as much of Knightly as of Emma–and I have a feeling that watching their relationship will be just as much of a roller coaster as it was watching Lizzie and Darcy. Although we know how it’s going to end, the actors who play Emma and Knightley have done such a wonderful job that I’m completely invested in their story.
Okay, maybe it’s only fun because we’re still at the beginning of the story before any of the bad stuff happens, but still. Who cares that we have less than a dozen episodes of Emma Approved? Viewers are already making fan art and fan mixes for the series. Not to mention, there’s the interactivity of the series created by Pemberley Digital like Emma, Knightley, and Harriet’s Twitter accounts. Plus, Emma’s blog keeps readers up to date on her life as well as her fashion–although I don’t know a single 20-something that can afford a $100-jacket. Anyway, Emma Approved doesn’t end with the videos, there are many other ways to enjoy the series and that’s what makes it fun. In addition to the story, of course.
Now, if I haven’t convinced you to watch Emma Approved, maybe she can. But just know: this web series is Molly approved.