Summer can be the perfect time for diving deep into that seasonal TBR. After all, lying on the beach or floating in the pool is the ideal time to relax, unwind, and lose yourself in a book or two. But what about those days when you've just gotten off work, your commute was sweaty and stressful, and you have zero brain power for reading? Well, while you're on the couch with your air con blasting, why not get fully immersed in a literary web series instead? Over the past few years tons of incredible series have popped up online, from the more high tech productions of Pemberley Digital to the decidedly more fan-made. All of them revisit or reimagine classic works in some way, from Austen to Poe, Anne of Green Gables to The Baby-sitters Club.
These modern adaptations are not only a great way to get into some of the renowned stories you might have missed, but for those who were already fans of the original texts, are wonderful ways to see the stories in a whole new light. All of the 9 series have large followings, dedicated Tumblr blogs, and entire fandoms for you to join in on this summer. We bet you can't watch just one.
1'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries'
Let's start with a classic, a sure-fire hit for anyone looking to get in to lit-based web series. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, based on Pride & Prejudice, launched Pemberley Digital and lots of other literary web series to come. It follows bookish, sarcastic, self-assured Lizzie Bennet as she pursues a graduate degree, dodges her mother's attempts to fix her up with a man, deals with her sisters' dramas and, yes, goes head to head with her foe, Darcy. This series is witty, entertaining, romantic and deals with modern ideas of social media and consent.
Emma Approved was Pemberley's next big hit, and it's obvious why. This charming retelling of Jane Austen's Emma took arguably one of Austen's most unlikeable main characters and gave her characteristics so many young professionals could relate to: drive and passion; confidence and poise; and the tenacity that can lead both to extreme wins and singular minded-obsession. The side characters are all loveable, the romances are slow-burn perfection, and you'll definitely find yourself with a new heroine to love.
One of the newest bookish series to hit the web is Stoneybrook Revisited, a series that looks at Ann M. Martin's Baby-sitters Club members, all grown up. There are already five uploads to check out, each one catching us up on the adult lives of the OG sitters: Kristy, Claudia, Mary-Anne, Stacy and Dawn...and while they're definitely still the girls we know and love (Kristy turning every hobby into a job? Mary-Anne with a strict morning routine? Claudia wearing massive headphones and digging into a box of donuts? Yeah, sounds about right) they're also incredibly modern. Just take one look at Stacy's long pink mermaid hair for evidence of that. We already know this one's going to be good.
4'Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Dinner Party'
OK, this one is massively fun. Edgar Allan Poe invites some of history's most famous authors (including Charlotte Brontë, Agatha Christie and Mary Shelley) to play a murder mystery game, but things don't go quite as planned. It's mad-cap hijinks, hilarious humor, and familiar faces (from Lizzie Bennet Diaries' Ashley Clements to Parks & Recreation's Jim O'Heir) make this the wild and wacky murder mystery dinner party you never knew you always wanted. If you've ever watched the film version of Clue, you've got some idea of what to expect here, but with the best literary twist.
5'Green Gables Fables'
Green Gables Fables retells Anne of Green Gables, following Anne Shirley and her friend Diana Barry in high school, captured through a series of vlogs. This is the sweet Anne you've always known, who finds the world absolutely splendid, and spends a lot of time daydreaming and making things up. Though the story remains light and fluffy, you'll love seeing how Anne interacts with a modern world and a modern high school, especially when her rivalry with Gilbert starts to really heat up. Plus, the actress who plays Anne actually was a high schooler when this series was filmed, giving it a great layer of authenticity.
6'The New Adventures Of Peter And Wendy'
OK, Peter Pan fans, hold on to your jaunty little green hats. The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is a magical, almost Pushing Daisies-esque recapturing of the relationship between Peter and Wendy. Set in the magical land of Neverland, Ohio, Peter has everything he could ever want right at home, especially his long-time friend Wendy Darling. But when their friendship begins to begins to blossom into something more, and Wendy debates flying away, they're both left with some serious thinking to do. Sweet, romantic, magical realism...it's all here and you're going to love it.
7'The Autobiography Of Jane Eyre'
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is shot in a decidedly more artsy fashion than most web series, which is a nice change of pace. The first vlog introduces us to Jane (and her stuffed cat...) who loves The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, just graduated from nursing school, and loves tea so much she's pretty sure she's "40% Earl Gray, 20% Chamomile and 10% African Mint." She's a little bit awkward, a lot smart, and she's about to find herself smack dab in the middle of lots of drama. Oh, yeah, she's definitely your kind of girl.
One of the most hilarious plays of all time, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, comes to reimagined life with In Earnest. Straight-laced Jack and his reprobate friend, Algy, navigate their ridiculous love lives while trying to discover who they are - literally. If you love the witty humor of the original play, the twists and turns and misunderstandings, with a nice little mix of romance, you absolutely need to check this one out.
9'From Mansfield With Love'
Another Austen retelling but this time, refreshingly, unapologetically British. From Mansfield With Love takes Mansfield Park as its inspiration, and follows Frankie Price as she uploads vlogs at the request of her brother Will, who is away and wants to know more about his sister's life. The humor calls to mind beloved UK shows like My Mad Fat Diary and The Inbetweeners (just watch Frankie struggle to keep her camera steady on a tripod of books in the first episode and you'll see why.) It's a laugh out loud funny, heartwarming and clever adaptation any Austen fan will enjoy.