Does classic literature count as a fandom? I like to think it does; I certainly nerd out about it. More specifically, I nerd out about literary web series.
The thing about the classics is they’re character-driven rather than plot-driven. We’re expected to make deep, empathic connections with realistic characters as they go about their realistic lives and, usually, fall in love in the end.
“Regular updates on the lives of random strangers” (aka vlogging) is very much character-driven. Hank Green and friends were the first to figure out that this format was perfect for re-telling classic stories, especially for modern audiences who don’t read much.
I noticed a trend among most of these web series: LGBTQ+ characters. Many of the classics are about strong female heroines, and the ones that aren’t can be gender-bent. Girl power! And it’s a small step from that to LGBTQWXYZ+ power. Haven’t I been over this before?
Trying hard not to rant. On to the thing that inspired me to write about this.
The professionals inspired many, many not-professional-but-still-brilliant literary web series around the world. I recently discovered and binge-watched The Attic, a Little Women adaptation. It’s set at a Christian college, the characters are unashamedly Christian, and Jo even shares a couple insights about faith. It makes the characters seem even more genuine, which is always a plus in these things. Also, no LGBTQWXYZ+ to be seen.
Jane Eyre talks about religion in one episode of “the Autobiography of Jane Eyre,” but most of these web series don’t talk about it. In “From Mansfield with Love,” Ed Bertram is a teacher instead of a minister. In series like “the Further Adventures of Cupid and Eros” and “Pantheon University,” metaphysics are kind of ignored for good reason. “Or So the Story Goes” has a ghost-demon who kills kids so their ghosts can play with him forever and “Frankenstein, MD” treats Victoria Frankenstein’s work as a medical breakthrough but not particularly bothersome for the religious community.
There’s at least one master list going around. For Christians, I would recommend starting with The Attic, for the reasons I mentioned. For nerds and geeks, I highly recommend the Cate Morland Chronicles. The heroine of Northanger Abbey is effortlessly converted to a super-nerd fangirl, and the series is just as much about fandom culture as the Austen love story.
Do you have a favorite classic you don’t see on this list? Tell us about it. Let’s Connect!