Posted on June 1, 2014 by richardgoulter
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I stumbled across “Emma Approved” during the season of procrastination.

“Emma Approved” being a YouTube series from the same folk who made the “Lizzie Bennet Diaries”. Just as LBD adapts from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, “Emma Approved” adapts from … “Emma”.

I’d heard that Emma isn’t quite a likeable character at the start. This was helpful, since Emma Woodhouse of the series is initially difficult to like. But do trust that it gets good. It really does.

The series isn’t complete yet. They weren’t releasing videos in May. (I started watching third week of April). I’d heard, though, that the movie “Clueless” was adapted from “Emma” as well. It’s the same story. (And “Clueless” is a bit gross, very 90’s, and fantastic).

I love this narrative. I’m apprehensive as to whether “Emma Approved” will be butchered in the same manner as LBD.. but anyway.

Emma’s character is brilliant. When we first meet her she’s quite a bitch; unlikeable and detestable. And I like that; a main character you don’t like, rather than a straight example of an all-that-is-good heroine (or an all-that-is-bad villain). By the end, Emma’s improving and all. This isn’t a gritty, the-world-sucks narrative. But what’s cool is to see this unlikeable Emma is not flatly unlikeable. We see she’s unlikeable because she’s doing the wrong things and has wrong attitudes about things. We see Emma is brilliant; she’s clever, she’s good looking. But because she misapplies herself, rather than making things better (as she hopes), she screws things up. - And then perhaps my favourite part. She realises how much of a screw-up and awful person she’s been; no apologies, no excuses, and she then tries to make things better. (The dialog for this in Clueless is great).

It’d probably be a mistake to focus on “before Emma = bad, after Emma = good”; I think that misses the point. (See, you’re going to then argue over morals, which is a really easy topic). What’s cool is the introspection and self-improvement. - That is what marks Emma as a great heroine; not as a perfect person, but as someone who can improve themselves, and improve their ability to help others.

Perhaps there are snobbish things to discuss such as how Emma gains a wider view of the reality about her and all..

Prob’ly the romance between Emma and Mr Knightly is cool, too.

Back to “Emma Approved” specifically; I think they’ve dropped the ball already, unfortunately: There’s a scene when Emma is chatting with an equally awful Mrs Elton, and as they say their goodbyes:

Emma: “I wish you all the best.” Mrs Elton: “I wish you all the best, too.” Emma: “No you don’t.”

I’m totally not being annoyed at this because it wasn’t in the book. I’m not. This dialog is crap because it’s full of false indignation, and setting Emma up on a white horse when she’s the same as Mrs Elton. - Worse is that if this is painted as a “good” thing for Emma to say, then I fear fans of the series holding equally crap indignation as a virtue.

Maybe I’m being harsh on the channel for the wrong reasons. LBD had fantastic moments, and maybe missteps like the above also.. but what I have to apologise for to the folk I share LBD with is, despite a fantastic start, a lot of the episodes get boring towards the end.

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