Jan 24 2014 2:30pm

As You Like It: Shakespeare’s Still the King of Pop Culture

Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy HelmesToday we're joined by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, authors of the Twisted Lit series of Shakespeare-inspired YA novels. Their latest release, Anyone But You, is a modern twist on Romeo and Juliet. They're here to demonstrate why Shakespeare remains oh so relevant today. Thanks, Kim and Amy!

As authors of the Twisted Lit series of Shakespeare-inspired YA novels, it’s easy for us to find Shakespeare in unexpected places. Pay attention, and you’ll start to see that his timeless works are front-and-center in some of today's most popular books, films, and TV series, including a few of our favorites, below.

Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park

“Parting is such sweet sorrow…”

Read Rainbow Rowell’s YA bestseller and you’ll get a dose of Romeo and Juliet. Not only do the title characters read the play in class—(Eleanor had some cynical remarks about the star-crossed lovers)—but their own bittersweet (and in many ways, forbidden) romance has strong parallels to Shakespeare’s teen tragedy.

House of CardsHouse of Cards

“Fair is foul and foul is fair.”

Dark Shakespearean undertones dominate this critically acclaimed Netflix series about a dastardly, power-hungry U.S. Senator and the cajoling wife who helps fuel his ambitions. The show takes direct inspiration from Macbeth and Richard III, substituting cutthroat D.C. politics for royal intrigue.


“Something is rotten in the state of... Starling.”

Fans of this DC Comics-based series have been speculating that its many parallels to Hamlet are more than coincidental. The most obvious similarity? Oliver’s vow to avenge his father’s murder. In flashbacks and hallucinations, he remembers his father’s dying pleas for him to survive and seek vengeance on those who are responsible for his death as well as crimes against the city. In following his father’s wishes, Oliver (like Hamlet) wreaks havoc on the lives of both the guilty and the innocent. Watch for allusions to The Tempest as well.

Crazy Eyes in Orange Is the New BlackOrange Is the New Black

“You common cry of curs whose breath I hate...”

The character “Crazy Eyes,” who has been compared to King Lear’s fool, surprises her fellow incarcerated (and wins over the show’s fans) when she busts out lines from Coriolanus and later mentions that she wants to play a role “like Desdemona, or Ophelia, or Claire Huxtable.”

Thor: The Dark World

“There is some soul of goodness in things evil...”

Thor (2011) Director Kenneth Branagh and actor Tom Hiddleston have agreed that Shakespeare’s Henry V inspired the strangely likeable villain Loki, played by Hiddleston in Thor, The Avengers, and most recently Thor: The Dark World. “He’s a prince wrestling with the authority of his father,” said the actor, who would know, since he portrayed “Prince Hal” in the acclaimed BBC series The Hollow Crown.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

The title of John Green’s heart-wrenching YA novel is borrowed from Julius Caesar and can be found in a letter from TFIOS’s Peter Van Houten to Augustus: “Were she better, or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves…’” And speaking of crossed stars, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least make a nod to the obvious similarities between the popular book (soon to be movie) and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Learn more or order a copy of Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Kim Askew and Amy Helmes are the authors of the Twisted Lit series of YA novels from Merit Press, including Anyone But You, their modern spin on Romeo and Juliet, out now. Follow Kim and Amy on Twitter at @kaskew and @amyhelmes.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Love the inclusion of Arrow. I remember one scene where Oliver misses a Hamlet reference and then says something along the lines of "I didn't study Shakespeare at any of the four schools I dropped out of." Little does he realize he's living out the man's plays!

Fun post, thanks.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
This is an awesome post, both substantive and totally entertaining! Thanks, ladies.
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