Emma Approved, the newest webseries by writer Bernie Su, is bringing attention back to classic literature. A modern adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma, the series follows Emma Woodhouse (Joanna Sotumara), who works as an entrepreneurial matchmaker and life coach. Her lifelong friend and business partner, Alex Knightley (Brent Bailey), acts as a buffer for her ridiculous schemes and antics as she pursues her romantic matchups.
The series will closely follow the plot of the novel, with a few deviations to better fit its modern setting. It’s expected to run for about a year, with a wide range of characters and changing settings to do the text justice. Only a few episodes in, people are already praising the series for its two-camera video format and the casting of an Asian-American actress in the lead role.
Riding on the success of his precious series, the Emmy-award winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries (based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) and the miniseries Welcome to Sanditon (based on Austen’s last, unfinished novel before her death), Su once again teams up with executive producer Hank Green of Vlogbrothers fame to create another new and exciting classical adaptation.
Pemberly Digital, which hosts the series, allows fans to connect with characters through social media and witness real-time interactions between characters on Twitter and Facebook that further enhance the plot. The show uses a fictional video program called Domino, similar to FaceTime, which allows characters to video chat with each other to reduce the show’s production budget and to create fast-paced episodes that feature several actors without requiring a large set.
In this adaption, the production team has chosen for the videos to exist “out-world”, meaning the characters are aware that they are being filmed (for the sake of documenting Emma’s greatness and achievements), yet are unaware that the videos are being uploaded to YouTube. In the previous series, characters supposedly watched the episodes to glean information and respond with their own videos. This series will run similarly to a television series like The Office, in which characters address the camera yet never view the episodes.
Fans of Austen or those who’ve studied her contemporaries at UTM will likely love this modern adaption and the ingenuity in adapting the story with less emphasis on romantic ideals, making it accessible to a wider audience. If you haven’t read the source material, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.