Back in the (relatively) simpler time of 2012, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries made us laugh, cry, and swoon with its modern update on Pride and Prejudice.
The series has now been concluded for over five years, and a lot of us still miss it. I know I do! I’ve watched the entire series five times, and I’m already in the mood for another go. It’s the sort of show where you go back to watch one or two of your favorite episodes… and then hit “freefall” mode and just binge-watch the whole series in three days.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a unique show, and no one could do it the way Pemberley Digital did. But it inspired a whole wave of YouTube-based web series, all free to watch.
Since I spend approximately 94% of my time online, I’ve managed to find some series that just might help fill the void The Lizzie Bennet Diaries left in your heart.
1. Nothing Much to Do
Starring: Harriett Maire as Beatrice Duke, Jake McGregor as Benedick Hobbes, Pearl Kennedy as Hero Duke, Caleb Welds as Pedro Donaldson, Matthew J. Smith as Claudio
Airing: March 25, 2014 – October 28, 2014
Start watching here.
BENDEDICK: Beatrice is a cheeky little so-and-so who doesn’t know anything about anything!
Beatrice and her cousin Hero are bored. To kill time, they start vlogging together. But, of course, once they turn the camera on, their personal lives go to hell. Suddenly, Hero’s boyfriend has it in his head that she cheated on him (she didn’t), and everyone is convinced that Bea has a crush on Benedick (she totally does, but we’re not supposed to know that). Armed with only a video camera and the help of their friends, Bea and Hero try to get their messes sorted out, one snarky comment at a time.
I’m actually not a huge fan of Much Ado About Nothing, the play on which this series is based, but I absolutely love Nothing Much to Do. It fixes a lot of the issues I had with the original play (namely, it’s a lot more feminist, and the villain has an actual motive), and has an absolutely stellar cast. Bea could rival Lizzie in the sarcasm department, but honestly, if those two met, they’d probably just be best friends. (Now, there’s a crossover I’d like to see!)
Like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it combines elements from multiple YouTube channels, to make it feel more like a real vlog. Fortunately, all the videos are together in the playlist I linked to above. The entire cast is great, and I really hope they achieve wider recognition soon.
Starring: Elise Bauman as Laura Hollis, Natasha Negovanlis as Carmilla Karnstein, Sharon Belle as Danny Lawrence, Annie Briggs as Lola Perry, Kaitlyn Alexander as LaFontaine
Airing: August 19, 2014 – October 13, 2016
Start watching here.
CARMILLA: Naive, provincial girl, entirely too tightly wound. And yet… there’s something about you…
LAURA: Maybe it’s my keen fashion sense?
CARMILLA: …No, it’s definitely not that.
Nineteen-year-old Laura Hollis is on her own for the first time, starting college at Silas University. Only… Silas is weird and creepy. The alchemy club is trying to raise the dead. The library seems to be alive, with a mind of its own. People disappear for no reason and no one seems to care. On top of all that, Laura’s roommate Carmilla is rude and antisocial (but admittedly, ridiculously hot). She regularly steals Laura’s food, makes fun of her friends, and keeps extremely inconvenient hours for when Laura’s trying to sleep. Oh, and she might also be a vampire that’s out for Laura’s blood.
I am a diehard Creampuff; Carmilla’s nickname for Laura, which then became a nickname for the fandom as a whole. This is a modern, feminist adaptation of the classic horror novella Carmilla, but don’t worry — while there are plenty chilling moments, especially as the story goes on and the stakes get higher, this is no horror show. With three seasons, a movie, and a ton of supplementary material, the world of Carmilla is one that is extremely easy to get lost in.
The chemistry between Bauman and Negovanlis is legendary and will have you screaming “JUST KISS ALREADY” at your screen every other episode. Carmilla has all the fluffy, hate-to-love romance that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries provided, but with the added bonus of fantasy creatures and the occasional world-ending apocalypse. Who doesn’t want to see that?
Starring: Natasha Negovanlis as Claire Ganski, Annie Briggs as Ruby Renaud, Sabryn Rock as Nico
Airing: May 16, 2018 – present
Start watching here.
CLAIRE: We don’t need to tell you to call…
RUBY: …Because we already know you will!
On her birthday, Claire is in a jam: she and her free-spirited best friend, Ruby, are about to get thrown out of their apartment. (See, their landlord wants them to… pay their rent.) On top of that, Claire’s too socially awkward to even make conversation with her dream girl, Nico. Things around home get chaotic when Ruby comes up with a “brilliant” idea: if she and Claire pretend to be psychics online, they can make money fast. Claire’s unsure if she really wants to con innocent people, but rent must be paid, so she agrees. When she discovers she really is psychic, Claire’s world is flipped upside-down.
Yes, that is Carmilla and Perry from Carmilla starring! This is a hilarious show, and while the romance and the psychics are great, by far its greatest strength is the friendship between Claire and Ruby. Briggs and Negovanlis have a great rapport, and they’re extremely believable as lifelong best friends — not unlike Lizzie and Charlotte, actually! The show just wrapped up its first season, and hopefully, we’ll be getting more very, very soon.
4. The Real Housewives of Shakespeare
Starring: Alexia Dox as Gertrude, Jacquelyn Zook as Olivia, Elise Dubois as Lady Macbeth
Airing: March 12, 2016 – April 23, 2016
Start watching here.
GERTRUDE: When Hamlet, Senior died… suddenly… I was sad. But I was also like, “I have got to move on with my life.” You know? I mean, after a month, it’s like, “Come on, missy! Reel it in!” So then I married his brother.
Meet Gertrude. She has the perfect way to get over your dead husband — marry his brother! Now meet her friend Olivia. She’s just married the guy of her dreams… except he may not be the person she actually fell in love with. Now meet their friend Lady Macbeth. She seems to have gone off the deep end recently, but hey, at least she and her husband have come into some money. (Think those two things could be connected somehow? Nahhhh…) These three women are the stars of your new favorite reality show, The Real Housewives of Shakespeare. And so are their families. Whether they like it or not.
This is a screamingly funny, dead-accurate parody of both Shakespeare and The Real Housewives series. The first episode alone had me in hysterics, and I immediately binge-watched all seven episodes of season one. (No word on whether or not we’re getting a season two. Please, world, let it happen…)
The reality show format really does hammer in just how messy all these women are if you really think about it. Unlike The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it’s not a straight-up adaptation of the source material, but it doesn’t really need to be. It just needs to be funny as all get-out, and it totally is. If you want something laugh-until-it-hurts hilarious, this is the show for you.
5. The Hamlet Monovlogs
Starring: Gary Cook as Prince Hamlet
Airing: June 12, 2018 – present
Start watching here.
HAMLET: But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Hamlet’s not having a good day. Or week. Or year. His dad’s dead, his mom’s remarried already (to his uncle — ick), oh, and his uncle killed his dad. (Probably.) Tasked by the ghost of his deceased father to kill his uncle, Hamlet is forced to wrestle with his conscience, the society around him, and his own personal demons. What’s a man to do? Well, apparently, a man is to vent about it in the privacy of his own very public YouTube account.
This series is very new, and only has a small audience as of this writing, but I’m already a huge fan. It’s amazing what Cook manages to do with zero budget, sets, or costumes, or even other actors — as far as I can tell, it’s just him filming himself in his house, and it works. If you want to see a really, really good performance of Hamlet’s many monologues, check this series out. There’s a bit of a wait between installments, but it’s well worth it.
6. The Autobiography of Jane Eyre
Starring: Alysson Hall as Jane Eyre, Adam Wright as E.D. Rochester, Janet McLaughlin as Adele Rochester, Patricia Trinh as Grace Poole
Airing: February 28, 2013 – December 25, 2013
Start watching here.
JANE: I can see the headline now: 21 Year Old Nurse Found Dead in a Field After Accepting a Job She Found on the Internet. “Jane will be remembered for her vlog… which nobody actually watched.”
Shy, bookish Jane Eyre has just begun her new job as the live-in tutor for Adele, a child prodigy. As much as she likes Adele, Jane can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong around here. On top of the general creepy vibe of the house, Adele’s father, E.D. Rochester, is never around, and no one seems concerned about this except Jane. Since she has an awful relationship with her family, and no close friends, Jane begins vlogging, frequently asking her viewers for advice and input. (Not to mention, leave some documentation on what’s going on.)
Yes, this is a The Lizzie Bennet Diaries-style update of Jane Eyre! In fact, the creators cite The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as their direct inspiration…. and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries actually exist within the same universe. If you’re a fan of darker, creepier romance, you’ll love this series. This is another series with a shoestring budget, which makes it doubly impressive that it looks as professional as it does.
The actors are all extremely high-caliber, and I was particularly impressed by the then-preteen actress playing Adele. I’ve never even read Jane Eyre (I know, I know… it’s on my list, I promise), but this series has made me want to pick it up.
7. Classic Alice
Starring: Kate Hackett as Alice Rackham, Tony Noto as Andrew Prichard, Elise Cantu as Cara Graves, Chris O’Brien as Ewan McBay
Airing: March 4, 2014 – January 12, 2016
Start watching here.
ALICE: I’m gonna crush everyone!
ANDREW: …What kind of internship is this?
Nerdy, lovable bookworm Alice is thrown for a loop when her literature professor gives her a bad grade, citing that he doesn’t think Alice is really connecting emotionally with the books she reads. In an effort to change that, Alice decides to live her life according to classic literature, starting with Crime and Punishment. (Don’t worry — her first rule for this experiment is “I’m not gonna kill anyone.”)
Aided by her roommate Cara and her friend Andrew, Alice lives out the plots of thirteen classic books and plays… and changes drastically as a result.
This is a story that’s just as much a coming-of-age drama about preparing to face the world outside of college as it is a cute, comedic retelling of classic literature. When it’s funny and lighthearted, it’s really funny and lighthearted, but when it decides to get serious… hoo boy. I’d describe it as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries meets Gilmore Girls.
Even if you’ve never read any of the material Alice covers, you’ll still be able to enjoy her journey as she tries to take on the roles of various fictional characters. The reality show-style confessionals that follow some episodes are hilarious, and there’s an absolutely adorable romance between Andrew and Alice, to boot. (Though be prepared for a Lizzie and Darcy-style slow burn. Quoth Cara, “JUST MAKE OUT WITH EACH OTHER’S FACES!”)
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was special, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of other amazing shows out there. If you give some of these a look, let me know what you think down in the comments! Or, if you have shows you want to recommend, let me know. I’m always looking for my next fictional obsession!
Featured image: Screencap from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Property of Pemberley Digital.Want to help us spread the popularity of Romance in Entertainment? Share this article with your friends!