Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Why I Want a 'Northanger Abbey' Vlog

I think regular readers of this blog will probably know that I love the Pemberley Digital web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries - a modern day web series adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has now finished and Pemberley Digital are currently making a web series adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma which is called Emma Approved. That series got off to a rockier start than the LBD but it's now progressing very nicely and I'm really enjoying it. But there's yet another Austen book that I'd love for Pemberley Digital to take on: Northanger Abbey. In my opinion Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's most underrated book and I think it could be adapted to the web series format brilliantly! If the PD creators haven't already considered adapting Northanger Abbey then they really should! I even have a few ideas about what they could do with it...

If I was adapting Northanger Abbey for the modern-day vlog format I'd have Catherine Morland start her vlog because she's going away to university and wants to keep her large family updated on what she's doing. She's shocked and stunned to get as many YouTube views as she does. Catherine then starts university and goes to a party. Catherine feels awkward and uncomfortable at the party though because she doesn't know anyone there. She sneaks off somewhere quiet to make a video - but Henry Tilney accidentally walks in on her while she's making it and they start talking. It's obvious that they're instantly smitten with each other. Catherine then meets Isabella Thorpe when they're picked to do an assignment together. They soon discover that they're both huge fans of the urban fantasy genre and bond over their favourite books. That genre has its roots from the Gothic literature of Austen's time so I think it's fitting that Catherine and Isabella would read those kinds of books. Isabella then tries to set Catherine up with her brother John, who would be obsessed with cars instead of carriages and horses. Henry Tilney would also have his own vlog which would cross over with Catherine's. Henry is a surprisingly modern and sarcastic character and I can very easily imagine him as a vlogger. He's also my favourite Austen hero by far and one of my favourite fictional heroes full stop. :) I'd like for Henry's videos to be similar in style to the vlogs of Danisnotonfire who I'm a big fan of. FYI: there's a bit of bad language in this video.

The semester then comes to an end and Henry invites Catherine to stay with him at his family mansion, Northanger Abbey, in New England. See what I did there? :D Then we get to the part of the novel where Catherine begins to suspect that General Tilney murdered his wife. However, I don't think it would be appropriate for Catherine to say that she thinks General Tilney is a murderer in a modern-day vlog adaptation. It's one thing for Catherine to think that General Tilney is a murderer but to accuse him of murder on a YouTube vlog would be awful. I think it would be best if Catherine begins to suspect that General Tilney is a vampire in a modern-day vlog since it would fit with the gothic literature/urban fantasy connection, and it could make for pure comedy gold! :D I'm still a bit hesitant about it though: would it make Catherine look stupid? It would have to be really well-written and handled for Catherine to not come across this way.

General Tilney then decides to send Catherine back home when Henry goes away for a few days. In the book General Tilney sends her away because John Thorpe told him that Catherine was a wealthy heiress and he's furious to find out that she isn't. I'm not sure what the General's motive for sending Catherine away should be in this version. Anyway, to really get across to modern viewers how awful it was of General Tilney to do this to Catherine in the book, I'd have Catherine spend three or four days travelling across the whole of America by bus. Catherine is convinced that Henry must have told his father about her suspicions and thinks that's why she's been sent home. She's heartbroken. When she gets back home she decides to make one last video in which she announces that she's going to give up vlogging for good - but as she's making the video there's a knock on her door. It's Henry! When he found out what his father did, Henry had a massive argument with him and instantly bought a plane ticket to Catherine's home town. He wanted to apologise to Catherine in person and let her know that he didn't ask his father to send her away. They then kiss. Catherine makes one more video to confirm that she and Henry are dating. The End.

I do have a few slight concerns about a Northanger Abbey vlog adaptation. Because Northanger Abbey doesn't have very many adaptations and is one of Jane Austen's lesser-known works it hasn't really got the large fanbase that Pride and Prejudice and Emma have. But then I suppose that those fans who loved The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved would probably be perfectly happy to watch whatever adaptation PD chose to do next. Northanger Abbey hasn't really got enough of a plot for it to be stretched out into a year-long adaptation either but I feel it could make for a brilliant short series to tide the fans over while the PD creators are working on a lengthier adaptation.

I would reeeally love it if Northanger Abbey was the next Pemberley Digital adaptation! I'm guessing that Hank Green and Bernie Su will eventually want to start adapting works by different authors but they should definitely make an attempt on Northanger Abbey. I wonder if the two of them have a long-term plan on the novels that they want to adapt or if they're just making it up as they go along?


Banríon An Gheimhridh said...

I love The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!! I was a little obsessed with it for a while. It was so emotional when it ended. :( I'm not enjoying Emma Approved nearly as much as the LBD. It's just not as good, in my opinion. I mean, it is good, but I prefer Lizzie Bennet's videos. I'm not even sure what Emma's videos are supposed to be, because it's not really a video blog like Lizzie's, which disappointed me. I mean, I do enjoy it, and I will continue to watch it, but it doesn't even come close to the great experience that was the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I always wanted them to do Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion next, but Northanger Abbey seems like an awesome idea! I would be really interested in seeing that. I love your idea of how it could be done! I like Danisnotonfire too and I can totally see Henry making videos like his. XD I think it would be really cool if the guy made videos as well as the girl.

Do you watch the Jane Eyre web series? It's really good. It's called The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, and it's on youtube. It's kind of like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, except darker and it feels like a really video blog series, while The Lizzie Bennet Diaries felt a little too polished at times. The Jane Eyre web series is just really good at achieving a sense of realism. It's up to episode 63 now. Here's the very first episode in case you're interested :D

Hannah said...

You know what? The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is actually my favourite P&P adaptation! I love it that much! Oh the heresy :D I'll defend my choice to the death though. They did an amazing job at bringing the story into the modern day, the cast is fantastic, and it's just so funny. And I love that they put such a heavy emphasis on Lizzie's relationships with her sisters and her friendship with Charlotte. I think people often forget that there's more to the story than the Elizabeth-Darcy romance.

I don't think EA is as good as the LBD either. I really struggled with it at first. I didn't like the Annie-cancelling-her-wedding plot at all and I can't understand why they chose to make Emma a professional matchmaker. I thought the whole point of Austen's book is that Emma is supposed to be terrible at it! But I chose to stick with EA because I love the actors who are playing Harriet Smith and Knightley. And I am really starting to enjoy it now. It's getting better and better I think.

The only JA book that I really can't see working as a modern-day vlog adaptation at all is Mansfield Park. They'd need to change the story a LOT to make it work in the modern day (the slave plantation, first cousins marrying) and Fanny is just so shy that I can't see her being a vlogger at all!

When it comes to S&S, Elinor is the main heroine of the book but I can much more easily imagine Marianne as a vlogger. I really wanted PD to adapt Persuasion for ages. I felt that its more serious tone and more mature heroine would make for a really nice contrast to the LBD/EA. But now I'm not so sure if Persuasion would be that well suited to a modern day update. In the book Mr Elliot only wants to marry Anne so he can gain a landed title and I think that might be quite hard to adapt to the modern day. I wouldn't want them to get rid of that subplot though because I think it's quite important.

I would be ecstatic if they announced NA as the next PD adaptation and I'm glad you like my idea of Henry as a Danisnotonfire esque vlogger! :)

I'm watching the AoJE and loving it! I was quite concerned about how they were going to handle Rochester's secret but it was done pretty well I thought. I love how different it is to the LBD too. It's as different to the LBD as Jane Eyre is to Pride and Prejudice.

Banríon An Gheimhridh said...

I think The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is definitely one of the best Pride and Prejudice adaptations, along with my favorite, Pride and Prejudice 1995. I also loved how much depth was given to Lizzie's relationship with Charlotte and her sisters, especially Lydia.

By the way, what do you think of the 2005 adaptation of P&P?

I also think Emma Approved is getting better, and I do love the actors, but I just don't think it will ever be as good as the LBD.

I'm so glad you like Jane Eyre's videos! :D

Mizzie-Me said...

Hello there, I've tagged you to a book-related challenge! Go to to see what's up.

Hannah said...

Banrion - I couldn't stand the 2005 film the first time I saw it. I didn't like anything about it apart from the music, the cinematography and Rosamond Pike's Jane Bennet. But with multiple viewings that film has grown on me more and more and I actually really like it now! This is kind of a big deal for me: I very rarely change my mind about films! Now I'd say that the 2005 version is probably my favourite P&P adaptation after the LBD. I know, I know! My favourite P&P adaptations aren't typical! :D I know that most Janeites consider the 1995 version to be the best JA adaptation but, for me, it's not. I do enjoy the 1995 version but tbh it frustrates me when I keep hearing people say that it's a flawless and perfect adaptation because I just can't agree. If it wasn't so well-loved I'd probably love it more! :D

The only P&P adaptations that I haven't seen are Bride and Prejudice (I've only seen bits of it) & the 1980 version. I need to work on that.

Have you seen the last AoJE video? Help! Unless they start to make his flaws more obvious I think I'm in perilous danger of shipping Jane with Simon James! He's adorable!

Banríon An Gheimhridh said...

I love the 1980 version of P&P! Not as much as 1995, but I did enjoy it and I thought it had its own charm. I would rank the LBD higher than 1980 P&P though. I like the 2005 version least. I still don't like it very much, but I'm glad you like it now. One of the things that bothers me most about it is the ending. The American version has a terrible ending, in which Lizzie and Darcy are kissing and... bleeeh. It was added to the American version, supposedly because it was thought the American audience needed that kind of thing. The British version had the original version, which I prefer. It was a pretty dumb assumption for them to make about Americans. It just kind of ticked me off. I'm still frustrated about it whenever I think about it.

I don't think the 1995 version is perfect either, but it's still really really really good. I think I mostly love it as much as I do because of nostalgia, since I've loved it since I was little.

I have seen the latest Jane Eyre episode! I can see why a lot of fans are starting to ship Jane with Simon. Personally, I don't ship it. I hope Jane and Rochester will work out. Well, I know what happens in the end, so it's a little weird that I'm saying that. XD That's the cool thing about AoJE, it keeps you guessing even if you already know the story, kind of like the LBD.

Hannah said...

I'm planning on watching & reviewing the 1980 version soon. I'm really looking forward to it now you've said that! :) But before I watch it I want to get my review of Sherlock S3, and possibly my review of Game of Thrones S2, out the way first. Hopefully I'll get onto it next month.

My least favourite P&P adaptation is the 1940 version because it's the least faithful. Have you seen that one? Darcy is far too flirtacious & Lady Catherine is actually nice in it! But as long as you're not expecting a faithful adaptation it's honestly not too bad and it is quite funny at times. I don't think I've seen a bad adaptation of P&P actually. They all have their various flaws but there's more good in them than bad.

I don't want to end up shipping Jane and Simon at all but Simon was just sooo cute in that last video that I could feel shippy feelings stirring. This is all very weird and unsettling for me! :D

samara said...

Ah!! First of all, Northanger Abbey is ALSO one of my favorite Austen's. It's just so fun. And Henry Tilney - definitely my favorite Austen man. Darcy is practically perfect and Knightley is kind and all - but Tilney is hilarious and thoughtful! I always thought he was Austen's representation of her male alter-ego. He is just wonderful in that way!

And I love your ideas for how the vlog could work :)

This whole comment thread is fun! And my, my "I very rarely change my mind about films!" - Hannah, nothing in common with Mr. Darcy, eh? ;)

Hannah said...

Northanger Abbey is my favourite Jane Austen novel after Pride and Prejudice and Emma. It hasn't got as much depth as those books and the writing isn't as polished as those books but it's just so youthful and charming and funny and fun! I don't know how anyone could dislike it. AND it's got the best JA hero. Glad we both agree there Samara! :D I've always thought of Henry as being a male Elizabeth Bennet but actually your view of him being Austen's male alter ego makes a lot of sense.

Have you seen the 2007 adaptation of NA? It's not perfect but I love that too.

I know! That IS very Darcy like of me!

samara said...

Hannah - yes, I've seen the 2007. It has some assets - mostly with it's casting - but, yes, not quite up there.

I know, I wish NA was more respected. The reason it isn't as polished is that Austen didn't have edit them for the publisher. If only she had...

By the way, I think you would like aspects of my friend Simon's blog. He works at Oxford - OPU & the Bodleian. This post is particularly amazing :)

Amanda said...

Hi, so I know I'm really late to the party on this post, but I read this a while back and I really like your idea. I hope Pemberley Digital goes back to Austen adaptations at some point. Your concept for Catherine as a vlogger inspired me to do a post on - well, it's related, but not directly. It's really just a rant, by me, based on Northanger Abbey, but it came to me while I was imagining what the book would look like as a webseries. I guess this sounds like a desperate go-read-my-blog comment but that's really not my intention. I just wanted to let you know, because I linked back to your blog as I introduced my topic. :D