Classic literature is at the heart of many a bookworm… and so are their adaptions. Who doesn’t love to spend an afternoon watching the BBC Pride & Prejudice Mini-series or singing along to The Lion King?
But the realms of adaptions have expanded with technological accessibility, leading to a world of adaptions that you’ve (probably) never heard of, called Literary Inspired Webseries. They are often modernized and told in a vlog-style or found footage format. They have a small but passionate following.
Here’s a few of the ones we like best–all of which are available for free on YouTube.
If you love Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen…
This adaption was a pioneer of the genre, reimagining Elizabeth as Lizzie, a grad student studying mass communications while living at home with her parents and sisters. She starts a video blog with her best friend Charlotte, and chronicles her year as her sister Jane falls for the rich, handsome medical student Bing Lee. Lizzie finds herself in a flirtatious relationship with George Wickham, a hot swimming instructor in town for a meet, much to the chagrin of William Darcy, the CEO of Pemberly Digital.
While Lizzie’s videos are the primary way of conveying the story, other characters also start making videos, giving their own perspectives. Lydia’s channel is a must-watch.
If you love The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett…
This cinematically gorgeous adaption shot in Oregon reimagines Mary as a troubled teen, forced to live with her absentee uncle after the death of her parents. She is lead to believe that her cousin Callie is off at boarding school, but after stealing the keys to the basement, finds that Callie is living down there, struggling with crippling anxiety, diabetes, and a plethora of allergies, keeping her from leaving the house. While Mary hates her new home, with the help of her tutor’s brother, Declan, she comes to love the forest glade.
This adaption is a bit of a hybrid; some episodes are shot in the traditional TV/Movie style, some are videos Mary makes for her doctor, and some are from the perspective of her cat.
If you love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë…
After graduating from nursing school, Jane realizes she doesn’t want to be a nurse. And after and obsessively following The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, she decides to start her own video blog. She soon takes a job as an au pair for a little girl named Adele and finds herself in the middle of some major drama as she falls for Adele’s father, a rich man with many secrets. Even when she escapes to the Rivers’ home for a while, she soon finds herself pulled back in.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre follows Jane Eyre’s thematic structure incredibly closely, and is told entirely through Jane’s vlogs, which often include what happens when she forgets to turn the camera off.
If you love Mansfield Park by Jane Austen…
watch From Mansfield With Love
In this modern adaption, Franny Price becomes Frankie, the shy, introverted housekeeper living at Mansfield, a hotel owned by her family friends, the Bertrams. She’s had a major crush on her best friend, Ed Bertram, for years. When her brother, Will, gets her a camera for Christmas, she promises to make videos for him so he can keep up with her life while traveling the world in the Navy. She opens up to the camera in a way that she can’t with people, believing that Will is the only one who can see the videos.
While primarily told through Frankie’s videos for Will, after the Crawford siblings arrive as designers for the new wing, Mary decides to try her hand at making videos for her friends back home.
If you love Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy…
watch Away From It All
When she saves up enough money waitressing, Bathsheba Everdene buys a pub and moves to run it. Some of the staff are resistant to her changes, and others embrace it wholeheartedly. On the night of the reopening, they find themselves short-staffed, and Gabriel Oak, an old friend who had previously been rejected by Bathsheba, lends a hand and is hired on. Gabriel isn’t the only one with feelings for Bathsheba, and her new friend and employee, Liddy, is in the middle of a romance of her own.
The show is told through both private and public videos, from a multitude of characters’ perspectives. Most of the public videos are posted on Facebook in-world, but Liddy has a separate vlog channel.
If you love Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare…
watch Jules & Monty
Jules & Monty places our classic Romeo & Juliet as college students affiliated with rival fraternities. Monty is an MTG, and all the men in Jules’s family have been in ΚΑψ for as long as anyone can remember, including her cousin Tye, and her brother Cliff, who is The Lord of Kappa. Monty and some MTGs crash the first ΚΑψ party, where Cliff was planning on setting up Jules and Pierre, but of course, Jules and Monty meet an connect immediately. Upon returning to her dorm from the party, her roommate Nancy informs her that the mysterious stranger is in fact an MTG, and therefore off limits.
The story is told through a series of vlogs; Jules, Monty, and Nancy, are all enrolled in a communications class that requires them to make videos chronicling the semester.
If you love Middlemarch by George Eliot…
watch Middlemarch: The Series
Much like the original novel, Middlemarch: The Series follows a large cast of characters. Dorothea becomes Dot, who confuses her admiration of Casaubon’s graduate research for feelings for him. She fosters a close friendship with his cousin Billie, who is reliant on Casaubon’s family for money for school. Meanwhile, Fred Vincy, a medical student, has fallen for his best friend, Max Brooks, who works for a local pizza shop. Fred’s sister, Rosie, has a major crush on Fred’s classmate, Lydgate, and unabashedly pursues him.
Unlike the rest of the shows on this list, Middlemarch: The Series is still airing. The premise is that Dot filmed a documentary, asking friends of friends to film as well. Now that she’s had time to edit the footage, she’s slowly releasing it.
If you enjoyed these series, make sure to check out this master list.