Sunday, November 22, 2015

"The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" vs. "Emma Approved:" A Few Thoughts on These Epic Shows!

Happy Solemnity of Christ the King!!! It's the last Sunday of the liturgical year-wow! It seems like this past year has flown by. Seriously, it's crazy. I'm still working on hammering out my "New Liturgical Year Resolution" for the coming year, and I'm thankful that I still have a few more days to figure it out! In the meantime, let's talk Jane Austen adaptations. Last Sunday afternoon, I began watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and within a few days, had breezed through all amazing 100+ episodes. Then, many of my good friends informed me that the same company created a series called Emma Approved, which is also quite spectacular. Yesterday, I finished Emma Approved, and I've been thinking about how these two shows are different, similar, and both amazing. So, let's talk Jane Austen!

As I went into each show...
I'm pretty sure that Emma is the first Jane Austen movie I ever watched. I grew up watching the 1996 Emma with Gwyneth Paltro, and I fell in love with the story. Yes, Emma is a bit bratty in how she tries to run everyone's life, but she has the best intentions at heart. She grows a lot, and she & Knightly have such a cute relationship. So, for the sake of childhood nostalgia, I was really excited to watch Emma Approved. On the other hand, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is one of my most favorite stories of all time. I love the novel, and I pull out different lessons each time I pick it up. I love the movie adaptations, and I've always found myself identifying with Lizzie a lot. Plus, she and Darcy have a splendid hate-love relationship going on. Hence, I was pretty stoked for LBD.

Overall Story:
Both of these shows modernize their respective Jane Austen work, and this is done quite cleverly. For instance, in the novel Emma, there is a significant event that happens while on an outing at Box Hill. For EA, Boxx in the Hills is a restaurant, where-at the opening-significant events happen. In LBD, we have Pemberley Digital, the company that Mr. Darcy owns. As I mentioned earlier, in LBD, the Lydia arc is so well-done, and it really pulled at my heart when she had her big run-in with Wickham. I love how LBD is full of drama, hilarity, romance, and is really easy for the viewer to relate to-who among us, like Lizzie, is looking for direction and purpose in life? Who isn't doing this? EA has a great, lighthearted story, and it's just plain fun. It did take me several episodes to get really invested in this show, which is probably due to the fact that it has a very different feeling from the LBD. Unlike LBD, which is a personal diary that Lizzie posts on the internet, EA follows Emma Woodhouse as she sets up video cameras in her office to document her greatness-she eventually plans to turn these videos into a documentary of her business! 

Main Characters:
 The casting for both EA and LBD was very well-done! I love how in LBD, Ashley Clements plays Lizzie very well, but she also portrays other characters in a hilarious manner! "Costume Theater" is a big part of Lizzie's set of video diaries as she re-enacts different events and scenarios, and seeing her portray a huge range of characters was quite a treat. Daniel Vincent Gordh plays a very socially-awkward and aloof Mr. Darcy, which is quite enjoyable. I find it fascinating that in LBD, Darcy doesn't make an appearance until episode 60-when the series is over halfway through! (Prior to his appearance, we just see how he acts through Lizzie's re-enactments) As wonderful as Darcy & Lizzie are, though, my favorite character in LBD is Lydia Bennet. Played by the talented Mary Kate Wiles, Lydia undergoes hugely awesome development throughout the series, and we really get to see how her actions affect her deeply. 
From Pemberley Digital

EA also has amazing actors & characters. As opposed to LBD, we get to meet a wide variety of the cast early on in the show. Brent Bailey does an incredible job as Mr. Knightly, and Joanna Sotomura plays opposite him as Emma. They are adorable! These two actors actually met through this show and eventually started dating while they were filming (and according to recent reports, it looks like they are still together), and this really adds much cuteness, and authenticity to the show. The other actors did an amazing job, and I really love how James Brent Isaacs portrayed Mr. Martin in particular, as the geeky, poker-playing, bird-watching IT guy. Oh, and don't get me started on Maddy Bates, played by Nikea Gamby-Turner. She is hilarious, lovable, and does an awesome job! 

The Romantic Plotlines:
From Pemberley Digital. 
Bing Lee and Jane are crazy adorable in LBD, and the actors play those roles really perfectly-they are so sweet, so kind, and so loving! Lizzie and Darcy are also cute and it's fun to see them develop a more comfortable attitude toward each other. Trust me, there are several swoon-worthy moments-like pretty much anytime Darcy touches Lizzie intentionally-and it's all quite lovely. However, in EA, we have the Harriet-Martin story, which is crazy cute. They're both shy and quirky, and it's really sweet to see them develop a relationship. As I mentioned earlier, Knightly and Emma are fantastic. The actors brought so much of themselves into their roles, and it was so darn adorable! When I finished the series, I definitely watched the segment with "the kiss" four times, and watched the whole episode twice. It's really precious, guys. If you want even emotions, you should check out the behind-the-scenes on a recent jewelry commercial that Sotomura and Bailey were in! 

I honestly don't know if I can pick a favorite show between these two. They are both so well done, so amazing, and feel so different! For the overall story and feeling of the show, I think I would pick LBD, but for the romantic plotline of Emma and Knightly-which basically spans the entire show-I would pick EA. So really, the only solution is to just watch and fall in love with both shows, then spent gobs of time re-watching all of my favorite parts, finding any kind of behind-the-scenes videos out there, and falling in love with both shows even more. If you haven't seen these shows and are interested, I really recommend that you check them out! Each episode is anywhere from 3-7ish minutes long, so they can totally be watched in small chunks. I also did some multi-tasking, and cut out papers for my parish while watching the shows. You know, volunteering while binging on epic youtube shows is a great way to live! :) 

Here's episode 1 of LBD! 

And here's episode 1 of EA! 

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts about these shows! Enjoy your last week of the liturgical year! 


  1. I've been interested in LBD since I read your last post mentioning it but I hadn't actually taken the time to watch it yet, so thanks for posting the first episode! I am *super* excited for this because even though I've been wanting to get more into Pride and Prejudice adaptations, for some reason I just haven't. I'm not familiar with Emma, but that one sounds interesting too! We haven't been in contact lately so I hope you've been doing well! :)

    1. I am doing splendidly, thanks! I hope that you are doing well too! I'm really excited for you to watch LBD and to hear what you think!!!!!!!!! It is so good. After I finish my current youtube series (a bunch of friends, when they heard I was watching LBD, recommended a ton of other modern adaptations of classic books) of "Anne with an E," I'm planning to go back and watch the Lydia Bennet videos (which are an offshoot thing from LBD, that tell more of Lydia's story). I've never watched so much youtube before in my life haha.

  2. Do you watch shows on Netflix often?? Give me some recommendations!! -

    1. Gingi, I wish!!! I actually am super cheap and try to only watch Netflix when they offer me free trials, so I'm not super hugely familiar with most Netflix stuff. When I do have Netflix, I inevitably watch a ton of "Doctor Who" (embarrassingly, I haven't watched any "Classic Who" yet, but I absolutely love the 2005-2015 reboot). I also really like Daredevil (I'm so stoked for season 2!!), and the "Ip Man" movies are really good. There are a few Bollywood movies on Netflix that I enjoy! (I like foreign stuff quite a bit) If I remember correctly, I'm pretty sure Netflix has "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge," which is pretty precious (if you're into super long Indian musicals). I also liked (though not nearly as much)"Chak de! India" which was not a musical, but was about a women's field hockey team in India, and it's basically an inspiring, female-empowerment sports film. "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" is super adorable, but that may only be a Netflix DVD, not sure if it streams. "Gotham" and "The Time in Between" have both been highly recommended to me and sound awesome, but since I haven't seen them yet, I can't personally vouch for them. Gingi, do you have any good recommendations for Netflix? When I do get another free trial (or break down and pay for a month or two haha), I'd love to check out some cool new stuff!

  3. I love LBD and Emma Approved! I actually watched them when they originally aired—I found LBD a few months after it started. When Emma Approved started, I thought it didn't measure up to LBD, but by the end of the series I actually liked it better! I like the format of the short episodes, and they're really well done.

    1. Wow, that's awesome!!! I'm kind of sad that I only got into them now, since I missed out on some of the fan interaction when they were coming out, but I'm super glad that I watched them. The short-episode format is super nice, though it's hard because it's easy to watch a ton in one setting without realizing how much time has gone by! (tonight I started showing them to my mom and sister, and it was a little after 12:30 a.m. when they noticed the time and went to bed haha). I also just started watching "Anne with an E" (a modern adaptation of Anne of Green Gables), and that's pretty cool because they are currently in the second season, so I caught up to the point where I can watch them as they come out.