Classic Books become Web Series

Five Web Series Broadcasting Classic Books for a New Era

Classic books are so named for a reason. These books offer more than yarns spun in days past. The stories contained between these covers have life well beyond the eras in which they were written. Over the past few years several online creators have translated these classics into web series, bringing beloved characters and treasured tales to a whole new audience.

1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has inspired many adaptations, unofficial sequels, retellings and even zombie stories, but The Lizzie Bennet Dairies took the classic tale to an entirely new place just before it’s 200th anniversary—YouTube. Lizzie tells us her story through classic video diaries and brings in her friends and sisters to help flesh out the details, often incorporating “costume theater” to fill in for characters who aren’t present. Lizzie does her literary counterpart justice and takes viewers on a funny and emotional journey aided by side vlogs, blogs, tweets and more from the whole cast. Oh, and don’t worry, Darcy shows up eventually.

Get a copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

2. Carmilla

This modern-day version of J. Sheridan Le Fenu’s pre-Dracula vampire tale follows Laura as she begins her freshman year at Silas University, a place that feels straight out of Welcome to Night Vale. The sheltered Laura, quickly becomes entangled in the mysterious disappearance of her roommate and several other girls on campus. She web casts her investigation along with her struggles to live with her dark, acerbic new roommate, Carmilla. The web series strays a lot from the original story, but still brings the classic book some well-deserved attention.

Get a copy of Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fenu.

3. The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy

Based on the characters from J. M. Barrie’s classic tale Peter Pan, Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Wendy’s brothers John and Michael, and, of course, Tinker Bell face life and what it means to grow up. The series records partly from the perspective of Tinker Bell and partly through Wendy’s own online video channel. The cast stands out too. Fans of the classics-to-web series genre will recognize Kyle Walter (Peter) from Welcome to Sanditon. Other notable cast members include Percy Daggs III (James “Jas” Hook) from Veronica Mars and Jim Beaver (George Darling) from Supernatural.

Get a copy of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie’s.

4. The March Family Letters

This modern day version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women shows the sisters sending video letters to their mother, “Marmee,” who has been deployed overseas. The characters on the web series are aged up from the book, and their mother is away at war instead of their father, who passed away years ago. The sisters are pretty much on their own in this adaptation. As a result, sisterly shenanigans ensue, and the sisters really learn to rely on each other while Marmee is gone.

Get a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

5. The Autobiography of Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre comes to the present day in a very honest and personal-feeling video diary. Because The Autobiography of Jane Eyre did not have much of a budget starting out, the videos feel a bit more like an actual amateur vlog. Jane begins by stating that she’s inspired by Lizzie Bennet’s videos and takes viewers on her journey through many personal updates. Throughout the series, Jane becomes a friend to the viewer. She feels real and just as likely to be living today as Bronte’s original Jane must have seemed in her era.

Get a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

What are your favorite modern adaptations of classic books? And which classics would you like to see streaming on the web with weekly updates?

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