I can’t even remember how I came across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but that was the first of many YouTube series I’ve recently discovered that are based on classic literature. While some are more school-friendly than others, each one has been a lot of fun to watch. All of them were meant to be enjoyed in real time, incorporating Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr feeds, and in some cases Q-and-A sessions based on viewers’ questions. But if you come to them after their completion, as I did in nearly every case, you will still be able to have almost as much fun! If you do catch one while it’s still in progress, however, you will get to enjoy the anticipation of a new post, much like Dickens’s readers excitedly awaited his newest installments. Here’s a list of the ones I’ve found so far; if you know of any others, please do add them to the comments!! (I added a few comments about appropriateness, but of course always preview yourself before using in class. I may have forgotten or misremembered some language or themes!)
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries from Pemberley Digital: Based on Pride and Prejudice. Appropriate for high school audiences. Deals with sexuality frankly but not explicitly. Some language. Completed series.
- Welcome to Sanditon from Pemberley Digital: Based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. Treated like a spinoff to the Diaries. Appropriate for high school audiences. It’s been a few months since I’ve seen it, but I don’t remember any language or sexual themes. Completed series.
- Emma Approved from Pemberley Digital: Based on Jane Austen’s Emma. Appropriate for high school audiences. Some language. Completed series.
- Frankenstein, M.D. from Pemberley Digital and PBS: Based on Frankenstein. Appropriate for high school audiences. Some language. In progress.
- Green Gables Fables from Alicia Whitson, Mandy Harmon, and Marie Trotter: Based on Anne of Green Gables. Appropriate for middle school and high school audiences. No language or sexual themes. In progress.
- Nothing Much to Do from the Candle Wasters: Based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Would be awesome if it was appropriate for high school audiences since it’s set in a high school and would have lots of high school appeal, but a large number of F-bombs and the way the sexual themes of the story are dealt with cause me to say, “Exercise caution!” Completed series.
- Classic Alice from Kate Hackett: This one isn’t based on one story but many. The idea is that two college students, Alice and Andrew, are working together on a senior project wherein Alice will live her life based on classic stories she’s never read and Andrew will film the results. So far they covered Crime and Punishment, Pygmalion, Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Butterfly,” Macbeth, and Rip Van Winkle. Appropriate for high school audiences. Some language. In progress.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre from Nessa Aref and Alysson Hall: Based on Jane Eyre. Appropriate for high school audiences. No language or sexual themes. Completed series.
- Jules and Monty from Tufts University Television: Based on Romeo and Juliet. I’ve only just started watching this one, so I’m not sure about suitability, but based on the trailer, it looks like there may be F-bombs aplenty, so use caution. I think it’s a completed series.