Emma Approved {webseries}

I just finished re-watching the YouTube webseries Emma Approved--which, for those of you who don't know, is a modern-day adaptation of Austen's Emma.

AND IT'S ADORABLE AND I LIKE IT VERY MUCH.


It's bright and colorful (literally), funny, sweet, and clever.  It doesn't deviate too much from the original storyline because there's really no need to, but the changes that it does make are tasteful and productive, and the show offers a fresh, new take on the classic.  It has some great character development, fun sets, and good casting.  I think the main thing, for me, is that it just makes me happy.

Let's discuss the characters, shall we?

Senator James Elton is quite well-done, and what's really fabulous is that he ends up with Caroline Lee from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a.k.a., Bingley's sister--that Caroline). 


Annie Taylor and Ryan Weston are both good, as well, though they don't really have much screen time.  (As a side note, I like that Annie does find out about how Emma lied during the whole wedding situation and that the two of them resolved that.)

Emma's sister, Izzy, is still married to Knightley's brother in this one, but we only ever see Izzy.  The makers took her in a slightly different direction and delved into some different subject matter in making her an unheard, struggling "housewife" and dealing with that.  I think the way they dealt with it was good, in the way that it ended.


Harriet Smith and Bobby Martin are really cute and sweet together and as individual characters.  Harriet, especially, is given quite a bit of development, and we see that she has things to teach Emma, as well, and is not only an inept youngling in need of Emma's "refining touch".  She also doesn't end the story positively worshipping Emma and thinking that she has no flaws.  That's good, because that's a pretty critical issue within the storyline of Emma, and I think that sometimes it needs a little more attention than it receives.  


Maddy Bates is good, as usual; though in this one she's really not that much more talkative than anybody else, so it's even harder to understand/forgive Emma's at-times snide attitude towards her.  But, in the end, that's resolved and Emma learns her lesson (like always), so it's alright. :)

Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill are both well-portrayed.  I'd say Frank is stronger as a character in this one; he doesn't have extremely deep development, mind you, but at least he's fun and this actor seems to understand the character and does a good job bringing him to a modern-day setting.


Jane isn't developed quite as much as one might like, either, and she can also be pretty serious/borderline unfriendly at times.  But she's still good, just not quite as enjoyable as Frank (though I guess that's the point).  

I have never quite come to a decision about what I think of Frank Churchill in general, in any Austen adaptation--he makes me conflicted--but he convinces me of his deep-down-goodness in this adaptation, at least.  And the videos of Frank and Jane together--which I only found out about this time around--are, to borrow a Knightley-ism, "disgustingly adorable."


Next we come to Alex Knightley--or, as this Emma dubs him, "Snarky Knightley."  This Knightley, like most Knightleys, takes a little while to grow on me, but in the end he's great.  In the beginning, he's almost a little too snarky/not funny enough for me, but as the series progresses he starts having more and more adorable expressions and lines and interactions with Emma (more on that presently ;)).  I also like that, while he confronts Emma a lot, he doesn't come across as constantly bashing her decision-making or thinking that he's always better or smarter or whatever than her.  I think that's something that can sometimes tend to dig under my skin a little in other adaptations, so I like that there seems to be slightly more equality in their relationship in this one. 


And last but not least, we have Emma Woodhouse herself--founder of company Emma Approved and therefore a life coach, professional matchmaker, and event planner.  Emma seems particularly insufferable at the beginning of this webseries: she's conceited, condescending to Harriet, and generally just a little Irritating.  BUT, a few episodes in, you start seeing why everyone loves her despite their occasional frustrations with her: she really does want to help people, however much the occasional impure motive may sneak into her machinations, and she's actually quite cute in her type-A, control-freak eccentricity.  


I also feel like this series, possibly more than any other adaptation, gives Emma a very good, very thorough arc.  By the end, I actually feel like she's making progress in overcoming some of her bigger flaws, while her quintessential Emma-ness is still intact.  This version doesn't insinuate that all or even most of Emma's traits are bad; merely that she needs to grow in respect for other people's thoughts and wishes, in tearing down her vanity, and in getting her priorities straight.  Her playfulness, her work ethic, her desire to help others, her ingenuity, her loyalty, her generosity, etc. . . . none of these are depreciated. 

(Plus, she has the BEST wardrobe.  I don't love absolutely every single one of her outfits--and some of her bottoms seem a wee bit short for a workplace--but overall . . . very nice.)

I mean, look at that.

And this brings us to THE BEST PART OF THE SHOW: the portrayal of Knightley and Emma's relationship.  Their banter is fabulous, their honesty is admirable, and JUST EVERYTHING IS CUTE.  

They are adorable, and this is the part where I take up a lot of time and space with gifs and pictures to prove it to you.






Of course, for all this fun, there are some serious parts, too.  For instance, I personally think the Box(x) fiasco is handled well in this one, and Knightley's conversation with Emma has more potency for me because he actually starts getting emotional himself and you can see and hear that better than I think you can see or hear that in any other adaptation I've seen (and I think I've seen most of them).  And then, of course, there's Emma, who's a sobbing mess over there because deep down she's Soft.  


Also, I think the way they end that episode, with Harriet coming in to check on Emma and Emma just begging her to not leave, is really good and provides a little more insight into some potential facets of Emma's character. 

Content-wise, the series is pretty clean.  There's your occasional mild, generic cuss word/taking God's name in vain, plus what I believe is only one instance of stronger swearing.  There may be a little innuendo, but honestly I'm not sure that there is.  (I mean, you find out that someone got pregnant before getting married, but that's all that I'm remembering.)

If you like a creative reimagining now and then, I can't recommend this highly enough!  I know people have strong feelings on Austen ;-P, so not everyone may enjoy it like I do, but it's worth a try.  And if you do try, give it a good try--give it a few episodes to grow on you. ;)



Comments

  1. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I LOVE EMMA APPROVED!! Watching Emma and Knightley's relationship grow was one of my favorite parts of the show. Tbh, when Caroline showed up, I was hoping the rest of the gang from the LBD would show up. Have you seen the new episodes???

    Lia

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    1. Right?!?! I hadn't made the connection that Caroline was Caroline when I first watched it. I saw EA before I saw TLBD, so when the same actress popped up I was just all, "Oh, cool!" I had somehow missed the fact that it was also the same character. xD I have seen the new episodes! I haven't watched all the extras, but I've seen the new episodes themselves. How about you? Do you like the new ones?

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    2. haha sorry, just saw this. But yes I do like the new episodes!! I was not expecting Collins to show up that's for sure.

      Lia

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    3. That's okay! Haha, yeah, I like how they do cross-overs from other Austen stories. :)

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  2. I think I rewatched this one a couple times and for liked it (then) better than other adaptations. I think because I just don't like that book as well. Emma is a straight-up brat in a way that I find particularly irritating. I've also not loved Knightley like so many people seem to, I always thought he fawned over Emma too much for dignity (and I've never really been into those HUGE age difference things).

    I think the best part about this adaption is the Harriet/Martin thing, and the way Harriet is given brains and dignity. I understand the story for what it was (the whole class thing for that time as well as differing levels of intelligence), but since I don't find Emma super likeable, it was nice that they added a more likeable character.

    I liked Frank. Actually, I just like Frank Churchill. He isn't a villain. He shouldn't be grouped with them. I dislike a lot of what he does, but there just so much self-righteous smugness in Emma, that I kind of side with Frank.

    I think I ended up liking these better than the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I think, because the latter had so many changes (in tone), was kinda a downer really, and wasn't near as clean. Of course in the originals I FAR prefer Pride and Prejudice.

    My favorite webseries though is Green Gables Fables (following along in storytime with all the social media as it "happened" is the way to do that series) and In Ernest. Kinda disappointed that webseries like these seemed to have petered out.

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    1. I know, I've wondered if the reason I love this one so much is because in general Emma has never been my favorite storyline. :-P Who can know. Emma is definitely flawed, and I've never been a real big fan of Mr. Knightley either! But kind of for the opposite reason? I almost feel, at times, that their relationship has too much inequality or something. But then, I don't know . . .

      "Harriet is given brains and dignity." << Exactly! She can stand on her own two feet and is painted as a worthy character in her own right. Yeah, the differences are there in the original story . . . but still. It's not entirely satisfying, the way the original story paints Harriet. :-P

      I'm pretty sure I definitely don't think of Frank Churchill as a VILLAIN, ever . . . I'm just not sure that I always think he's a Wonderful Person. But in this adaptation, at least, I do like him very much indeed. He's a good character, in more ways than one. :)

      I think so, too. I rewatched TLBD before rewatching this one, and it almost made me wonder if I could still say that I like EA more . . . but yeah, I can. :-P TLBD are fun, and they have a cozier "aesthetic," I think, but they don't have the peppy, happiness-inducing quality that EA does. And, too, I feel like the characters aren't as thoroughly likable (for me, at least) as the characters in EA. (And I know, right? What's up with some of the content in TLBD?? I mean, I guess it makes sense given the whole character of Lydia, but there is a lot more, you're right!)


      I think I maybe ought to try Green Gables Fables again (okay, great, thanks for the tip!). I tried a few episodes and didn't really get "hooked," but I might this time around. And In Earnest didn't really grab me, either, but perhaps I didn't give it a good enough try. It is kind of a bummer! I tried a few other webseries recently, but none of them were really at the caliber of EA or even TLBD. Sad. :-/

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  3. Loved this! It's been a long time sine I watched it and you make me want to rewatch it so badly!!! I think I watched it around when it came out so it's been a looooong time. So it would be justified to rewatch it right? Right?!?!?!

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    1. You SHOULD!! It would absolutely be justified to rewatch it now. ;D

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  4. Katherine went gaga over this and after much resistance, I allowed her to show me selections aka the best bits. In the end I really liked it, Alex was the best and Martin was so sweet. Did you know they've come out with more episodes? Like a month ago? The new client is none other than... Mr. Collins!!!!

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    1. And didn't Katherine know best???!! ;D Alex and Martin are both great! I did know about the revival, actually! I got excited when the announcement came out. :D And I thiiiink I'm up to date on the revival episodes?? I know! It was so neat to have Mr. Collins make an appearance. :D

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  5. I keep wanting to get into watching the webseries things like this and the Lizzy Bennet Diaries, but... but... I haven't got the time :-( Hopefully they'll still be around when my kids are gone and I'm searching for things to fill my empty hours, lol!

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    1. I think you would like this one! I can't be sure, but I think so. :) Aww, bummer! Haha, yes, hopefully the time will come and they'll still be available! ;D

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  6. Oh, I love Emma Approved!! Simply love it! I think Frank is great, and I love Martin, and Mr. Knightley is wonderful and yes, Emma is perfect also! How are the Lizzie Bennet Diaries??

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    1. Same!!! Ahh, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This might get a little lengthy.

      I like TLBD, I really do. The general feel is, I think, a little "cozier" than the feel of EA, because most of it takes place in a middle/lower class home, not a brightly colored, well-to-do office. And it's definitely addictive and enjoyable! That said, however, it's got a good deal more content than EA. Lydia's flirtatiousness is even more enhanced by the modern setting, and there are some very vulgar expressions used (primarily by her). And then, of course, there's the whole Lydia/Wickham situation, which I can't really go into because of spoilers, but which is also a content concern. (Though it makes sense for the setting and for that I do appreciate it.) I think there's also a little more (minor) swearing in TLBD, too?

      So, yeah. I like TLBD and would recommend them, but only if you're cool with a good deal more content. :-/

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  7. I really loved this show! I actually had a huge poster of Emma and Snarky Knightley on my sewing room wall for a few years and finally took it down when I moved out of my parents' house. It was kind of sad to see it go, because this show gave me so much joy! Your post is inspiring me to give it a re-watch.

    Have you seen any of the new season? I was happy with it at first and thought the documentary style was a fun new twist (a la the Office or Parks and Rec) but it went downhill pretty quickly and I'm not really surprised it petered out. There were definitely some really fun moments, though, so if you enjoyed the first season you might want to check it out!

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    1. Ooh, where did you get a poster of this?? :D I'd be sad to see that go, too. :-P I know, that's it exactly--this show just makes me happy and cheers me up. I'm glad my post is encouraging you to go through it again, especially since your blog is probably where I first found out about its existence. :D

      I have! I think I'm all caught up on the episodes themselves. Yeah, it's kind of just been like a, " . . . This is nice, but where are we going with it" kind of thing. Oh, has it been cancelled? Yikes, that was fast. :-P But I don't think I would be TOO upset if they didn't finish it . . . the original series is good enough as it is. ;) But yes, it was fun to see all the familiar faces again, and it gives me hope that Joanna Sotomura and Brent Bailey are still together in real life, like they were at the end of the first season. :D :D

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  8. I remember watching this!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages ago . . . I remember thinking that Emma and Knightley were sUPER FREAKIN' CUTE together, especially at the end *heart-eyes*

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    1. Oh, neat! I didn't know you had seen this. :D Aren't they?!?! <3 <3 <3

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  9. Great post! I forgot about this show, but I actually still really want to watch it. I was going to ask you about content, but you beat me to it! Thank you so much for the helpful info. Now I don't have to worry while watching that the content will become too much for me. (I watched LBD a few years ago, and i loved the story, characters, adaptation, etc., but I didn't like the level of inappropriate language and situations, and I wouldn't watch it nowadays. It was good in every other sense, though.)

    If I binge-watch this show soon, I'm blaming you. XD Just kidding! I will truly take the full responsibility. :) But thanks for recommending it!! :D

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    1. Thanks! Oh, awesome, I'm glad I could be of help. :) (I know, right?! The first time I watched LBD I was a little surprised by some of the content, especially having watched this one first and having had almost no objectionable stuff at all. But I agree, other than the content, LBD is really fun, too. :))

      Haha! I'll take that blame. ;D You're most welcome, thanks for reading and commenting! :)

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    2. You were! <3 I watched the first couple dozen episodes soon after I read your post (in wayyy too short a space of time, predictably), and enjoyed it so far. :) I meant to continue at some point, but I haven't yet. Maybe cause the thing that made me pause (like when you put a book down at the end of a chapter when you're less engaged) was an episode that combined some liberal undertones with something that was a little weak in the story sense (though it was strong till that point). But both are to be expected with webseries. :)

      Yeah, I was too. I watched LBD first, and I think my sister warned me, but I still cringed. And I had to skip a lot of the parts with Wickham.... I just can't watch that. It was such a good adaptation, and i so wish it was cleaner!!! :( I was pleased to see that Emma Approved really is very clean! She calls Elton a scumbag several times, and the difference from Lizzie Bennett's favorite word really struck me.

      Have you seen any other literary webseries? Clean ones, I mean, haha. I had to DNF a couple cause of content that was too much for me (though not for most people), and only watched a couple minutes on some that were low quality. But the first one I ever watched, several years ago, was great and clean - In Earnest. Have you seen it? I binged that one too, and LBD, haha. XD

      Haha, no, that's just my self-discipline that's to blame. :) I have it in some areas, but not this one. You can just take the credit for nudging me to watch it! :)

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    3. :D I hope you'll enjoy it if you continue!

      I know, some of the lines in LBD are . . . *cringes with you* But I do like it, otherwise. Yes, EA is so much cleaner! And just happy in general. :)

      I haven't, unfortunately. I've started several and then ended up stopping, some because they just didn't grab me (In Earnest -- sorry! :-P -- Green Gables Fables) and some because they were too inappropriate (The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy). I started In Earnest a couple times, and for some reason it just wasn't hooking me! But one of these days maybe I'll try it again. I suspect if I actually gave it more of a chance, I'd get hooked. :D So we'll see!

      Haha! I feel you--I also have self-discipline in some areas and not in others. xD (I guess most people do, come to think of it . . . ) Heehee! I will, then. ;)

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  10. Oooh this sounds so fun and ADORABLE! I need to check this out!! I love Emma, both the book and the 2009 BBC miniseries, as does my mom. I'll need to tell her about this. :D

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    1. It IS fun! I would think it would appeal to most people who like the original storyline and don't dislike the idea of setting it in modern day. :) I hope you like it (and your mom, if she watches it too)!

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  11. And Mr. Knightley is the ABSOLUTE BEST. I ship him and Emma forever.

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    1. Haha! Mr. Knightley isn't a favorite of mine, but he and Emma are ADORABLE in this version. ;) (And in most versions, if we're being honest . . . )

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