If you’ve been keeping up with YouTube in the past eight years, you might have noticed a growing trend in book adaptations. More and more, classic literature is being adapted are modernized as web series, typically available through video sites like YouTube.
The series tend to be shot vlog style, meaning they are presented as a video blog. Though the series still have actors, by mimicking the vlog formula, these adaptations tend to feel much more personal. The vlog setting, albeit fictional in this case, also functions on the idea that the characters are aware of their audience, and that other characters in the story are able to watch their videos.
Here are just a few literary web series that put fun new spins on classic tales!
The Emmy award-winning literary web series that kicked off the trend, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is still considered by many to be the best literature-inspired web series. It’s not hard to see why, with the lovable Bennet sisters stealing the show in this modern spin on Jane Austen’s classic romance Pride and Prejudice.
Emma Approved is made by the same people who made The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, so it has a similar feel to the other series. Of course, this could also be in part because it’s source material, Emma, is also written by Jane Austen. This series aired after the completion of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and so its influence can be seen all over the show. However, this series still manages to feel fresh and new, and took home a few Emmy awards of its own as well.
Nothing Much To Do is the first web series from New Zealand based production company The Candle Wasters, and was so popular it was even given a sequel series. Based on William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Nothing Much To Do brings the classic characters into a modern day New Zealand high school, where the leads get into just as many wacky hi-jinks as they do in the original play. The sequel series, Lovely Little Losers, is based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, and follows the Nothing Much To Do characters as they go away to university.
Green Gables Fables is a modern web series adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. The first season of the series focuses on Anne Shirley as she moves to Avonlea, where she is adopted by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert and makes friends in her new home. The second season follows Anne and her friends as they head off to college, and covers the later books in the series. The series is known for its multimedia presence during its airing, with almost all of the characters having their own Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter accounts.
The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy brings the tale of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan into the modern world, without sacrificing any of the magic and whimsy from the original. Follow Peter, Wendy, and many of your other favorite Peter Pan characters as they tackle friendship, romance, and what it means to finally grow up. The show was funded by the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and successfully funded a second and third season as well!
Fans of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You might notice some similarities in this web series, which is because they are both based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The web series follows two sisters, Katie and Bianca, whose father has set a strict rule on Bianca for dating: she can date once Katie dates. Headstrong Katie has no plans to enter a romantic relationship any time soon, which spurs one of Bianca’s suitors to pay bad boy Peter to romance Katie so that Bianca will be allowed to date. Just like 10 Things, the modern adaptation here allows for a much more progressive and comedic version of Shakespeare’s original play.
Classic Alice is a little different than the rest of the web series on this list, and that is because it is not based on one single work of literature. In the series, the main character, Alice, lives her life as according to certain pieces of classic literature. The series starts with Alice living her life based on Crime and Punishment, and over the course of the show she moves on to many other novels and stories. This format has allowed the show to run for quite some time, as the writers have much more source material to work with.
Written in 1872, 26 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla tells the story of a female vampire named Carmilla, who attempts to steal the life and vital fluids of the innocent Laura. In the web series, Carmilla and Laura share a dorm in college, and Laura begins to suspect that her roommate isn’t all that she seems. As opposed to the undeniably evil Carmilla in the original novella, the web series instead frames her as misunderstood, and eventually has Carmilla and Laura falling in love. This popular web series has spawned multiple seasons, and even a feature film adaptation. Season two and on are completely off-book, but the series is definitely still worth checking out!
An adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, this web series brings the classic play into the twenty-first century, where the main characters each upload videos to their individual YouTube channels. The series takes place in Pennsylvania, and was filmed at Grove City College and stars many Pennsylvania actors and actresses.