Yesterday saw the debut of the new webseries, Emma Approved, from the team responsible for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The new show is the team's adaptation of Austen’s Emma. While I loved The LBD, I never quite warmed up to Welcome to Sanditon in the same way. I think part of that was the fact that I wasn’t as familiar with the source material. I, like many romance readers, have read and reread Pride and Prejudice and watched every adaptation and even read most of the derivative works. I enjoyed seeing how The LBD brought their own spin on the characters I loved as much as I liked watching the story unfold. I love Emma nearly as much as P&P, so I’m looking forward to see how all these characters and their situations translate to the modern world.
The Emma Woodhouse of the novel runs her friends’ lives with more enthusiasm than skill or understanding and they tolerate her because of her goodness and their affection for her. It’s a fine line. It’s easy for Emma to seem unsympathetic and selfish instead of a little spoiled and oblivious and over-confident. I think this Emma is going to walk the right side of the line for me.
The opening episode shows her to be smart, energetic and over-caffeinated. Batsonthebrain on Tumblr called her “a match making Hermione on speed” which was so perfect a description a nearly choked on my tea. She enthuses over the upcoming wedding of Ryan Weston, cupcake mogul, and Annie Weston, homemaker extraordinaire—a wedding that Emma herself helped along with her matchmaking ways. I really love their casting of Emma. Her speed talking, broad winks at the camera and the energy that the actress brings are all things that make Emma likeable, despite her hubris. She is, after all, making these recordings to document her greatness for a future lifetime achievement award. The moment that really won me over to the Emma was when Annie calls her (a really great use of the Domino app that was sometimes awkwardly used in The LBD) and Emma suspects that Annie is worried over the availability of her chosen flowers for the wedding, Emma instantly reassures her that it won’t be a problem. Emma will call in a favor; problem solved. Her instant generosity is one of her redeeming features, and Emma is likely to need every one of them as she blunders onward through the story.
Most importantly, Alex Knightly is there in the very first episode, which is a huge change since Darcy didn’t appear on camera until episode 60, more than halfway through The LBD. Alex is a partner at the same company where Emma works. He does accounting or bookkeeping “boring stuff,” Emma explains. She yanks him around to sit next to her with a familiarity that shows what a long history they must have and then she quickly shoves him off when he wants to talk “important, boring stuff.” He too uses the Domino app to call her with a message, one that he had to take because she hasn’t yet hired a personal assistant. (Could this future PA end up being Harriet Smith?) Emma hangs up on him when he nags her about that failure. They have just the right chemistry for the relationship that Knightley and Emma have, good natured bickering, a bit big brother, with Alex never quite as annoyed with her as he ought to be.
The episode was brief and ended with a bit of a cliffhanger: Annie is thinking of calling the wedding off! Want to know why? Tune in on Thursday to find out. I know I will. I’ll also be stalking Emma and Annie on Twitter to see if I can guess what’s coming next.
Emma Approved website: www.emmaapproved.com
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.