Weighing characters

A Twitter exchange (thanks, JoAnne) has prompted me to ponder the actual requirements that the web series creators have to meet. I find that as a watcher, I am especially demanding with literary web series. Most of them are based on classic literature, directly on specific novels, and as a reader of classic literature, I have already formed an image of the characters in my mind.

So, I imagine having to meet a vast audience’s demands on many accounts is very demanding. Not only do the audience demand that the protagonist fits their image in an either obvious or in a clever way, but a lot of discussion on Tumblr and Twitter sets parameters for diversity as well. Behind which I am totally, because the reality is that while in the times the books that are now are in the public domain were written, the world on the public side might have been mostly white, that is not the case anymore. (And as a I’ve studied English literature, I know that even the first part of that is a questionable statement.) YouTube audiences are all over the world and the specific audience who enjoy literary web series are very aware and critical of this.

While we are still waiting for a cast where a white person is not the norm but cast for diversity(or if we aren’t please send me a link), it is still hard to judge the showmakers, since most YouTube productions are still very low budget. Not everyone has the possibility to have casting sessions. So maybe the diversity and acting skills of your actor friends may present the limits.

Well, I think this is something that I really need to find out about more. I actually know little of the financing of webseries in general, the only ones that I know about are most of those who have used crowdfunding. I wonder how such web series like Marianne and Elinor take Barton or the Misselthwaite Archives (so proud, didn’t have to check the spelling!) have funded themselves. Or Dashwood days. There are so many. Maybe I should just ask.

Anyway, I digress, somewhat. I was going to talk about other demands the audience of a literary web series might have. For example East and West, which is based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. I did not like the main character. At all. It’s been quite a few years since I read it, and all I can remember about her is that she complained a lot and had good reason to since everyone was dying around her. Although she was unhappy about everything else as well… Anyway. It is pretty hard to find a person who can complain all the time without making me stop watching the show.

So basically, what I mean is that web series, often in the vlog form need to make the unpleasant characters (of which Margaret Hale isn’t the worst one, of course) at least relatable, because the vlog form makes it all so “in-your-face”. You are basically having an indirect conversation with this person.

One good option for unpleasant people, who are not the main characters, is not to show them (if it’s not the main character). Like Mrs Bracknell in In Earnest(the torso shot doesn’t count in my books), or the costume theatre option many web series have utilised after the Lizzie Bennet Diaries gave it direction.

I realise that I am currently only writing about the unpleasant characters in web series. But also the pleasant characters need to  meet and often excell the expectations. A really good literary web series is one in which the characters surprise you in a clever way. One way is to just make a literary character more human.

Ok, I’m returning back to disliked literary characters, but who can really say they like Lydia in Pride and Prejudice? And who can really say that they don’t love Lydia in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

This post really has been the ramblings of my distracted mind on two different days. Please leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter (@mayusteapot) if you have ideas that I can steal 🙂 Or shout at me for being completely wrong… I think this is a subject I will return to quite often!


Killing time on a train station somewhere in Western Finland

So. The title explains it all. Still an hour to go before my train leaves for the last part of my journey to my hometown(where I grew up). I’m going to spend a couple of weeks with parents. Apparently people who don’t sleep, don’t have to work. For a while.

I’ve been pondering Mr Rushworth. The web series From Mansfield With Love has really brought the character alive in my mind. I mean, despite being stupid, the whole affair with Maria and Henry Crawford touches his life in as dramatic a way as any of the others. True, people already think him stupid and must not find it so very surprising that he has been cuckolded. Also, in the original, he probably suffers far less of the consequences of the whole matter than Maria. He is a rich man and rich men surely find friends.

But the bottom line is that even including the book, this Rory Rushworth  is the first version of that character for whom I’ll probably feel pity.

It’s always enjoyable to find new layers for the original story through adaptations.

The Crawfords have now hatched in Mansfield Park Hotel and oh boy,  do they bring change. Frankie was vlogging by the pond when they appeared with Edmund. Henry is deliciously smarmy and rakish with his “beds” in London and Mary wonderfully charming and normal, raising literary hackles only when she refers to Harry Potter as ‘the film’.

The presence of a video camera brings out interestingly yet somewhat expectedly the worst in Henry’s character. It hasn’t been confirmed but in an episode (14?) where the camera was left mistakenly running, it felt like Henry was totally aware that the camera was on. He was flirting with us watchers and also already with Frankie (or, ooh now that I think on it, with Will!!!).

It is really and truly impossible to watch an episode of FMWL without drinking a cup of tea. Though at the moment of hatching of Henry Crawford and his pretty brown eyes, I choked on my tea.

Tea companies are also losing a pretty penny by not franchising literary web series themed teas. I guess tea goes with books so naturally it goes with literary web series as well.

Tea… I complimented the train station cafe having a coffee pot (!) full of very black tea (I love strong tea) and the clerk proudly told me that it had been steeping there already for a couple of hours. Tea in most Finnish cafes is abysmal.

Ok. I can see my train is already on the station. But before I drag myself, two bags, a suitcase and a cat in her box onto the train, I must suggest a new term: Hatching – the revelation of a new web series character for the first time. Before the Crawfords were revealed their avatars on Twitter were the default egg pic. That gave me the idea.

Oops. Will soon miss my train.

Why Classic Alice, why?

It’s about time I wrote more about one of my all time favourite web series, Classic Alice which is currently crowdfunding their second season with Indiegogo. The header on top of my  blog is from their campaign and you can follow it on Twitter #SaveAlice.

So, 4 reasons you should watch, support, follow and share Classic Alice:

1. It is brilliant. The way that man burping the theme to the Muppets was brilliant (Cabin Pressure reference, excuse me). The way things that surprise you all the time and keep your attention are brilliant.

2. The characters. I don’t think I’ve loved characters more than Alice and Cara and Andrew. I don’t remember hating anyone as much as a certain someone at a certain point in the show (no spoilers, you have to watch it to find out). Even the characters who appear only on Twitter are awesome. And the many layers of Nathan! Nathan is so great!

3. The actors. The show really gives away what a loveable bunch these people are. And if it doesn’t, follow them on social media, tweet at them and you’ll find out. The transmedia creators are obviously included in this.

4. The fandom. About half a minute into the first episode you are going to start wishing Alice was real. And that’s the best part! Meet #Ocelittles! If you dare to open your mouth, or rather tweet at the characters and then follow and tweet with other people watching and supporting the show, you will get to know dozens of Alices. What’s even better, Alices from many parts of the world, of different ages and backgrounds and opinions on books, books, books and… other stuff.

I was going to make this a list of 10 reasons, but I think these are really all the reasons you need.

So please watch, share and donate to the Classic Alice Indiegogo campaign.

The death of a fictional loved one

Today’s blog is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Cuthbert.

I remember sobbing inconsolably at Matthew’s death the first time I read Anne of Green Gables. He is such an important character and Anne’s first family.

The Green Gables Fables really made us all fall for Matthew again. He was awkward and sincere and very loving, the first person to stand between Anne and the world.

Ok, I can’t write about this without getting emotional.

Well done, Green Gables Fables! I’ve already seen theories on Twitter that they could just have called him into secret service or the aliens might have taken him. Still, I’m glad the series went with the original plot. It is such a turning point in the novel series. Doesn’t mean I won’t be grieving.

Anyway, so, as you might have gathered, Green Gables Fables is a web series adaptation of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I’ve been watching it since the first video hit YouTube, over a year ago now. Or maybe since someone mentioned that this web series was in the works, GGFables and Anne’s Tumblr, Instagram…

Although the series is probably getting more attention as things start to proceed with the Shirbert (friend)ship, I love the unhurried pace the series has had. The creators are students so that might affect the pace, luckily, since it makes the series seem so real, even though the story is one that I’ve known most of my life!

Matthew’s passing and Anne’s video after that was not the first time this series has wrung tears from my bleeding heart. Knowing how the story proceeds made Ruby Gillis’ vlog about finding love so touching that it made me curl up in a ball of web series feels and eat a whole lot of chocolate. The actors, and casting in general, are so wonderful that I am in denial that these people do not have the destinies Montgomery penned for them over a hundred years ago.

There are so many things I could say about Gteen Gables Fables, but I think the most important is just that. How the creators have been able to bring the characters to life, from this well known and well loved book. My favourite thing still is that I AM FOLLOWING MRS LYNDE ON TWITTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Web seriescapism – Untangling Tessa, EaWV, Social Medium

I need somewhere familiar and cozy to disappear into from the real world. Just for a while. Two men were killed today with an axe in a pub on the street where I live and the killer is still at large, so what I’m really escaping is the choking horrifying feeling of disbelief.

A large mug of chamomile tea, deep breaths. Back to the world of willing suspension of disbelief.

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in a long time that there was no new episode of Classic Alice. I can assure, it was not pleasant. I ate a pie – well, a large chunk of it, directly from the tray. I kept refreshing YouTube anyway. Long into the night. (By the way, if you are reading this, please go to igg.me/at/SaveAlice and give them your money, that is, if you have any…)

The web series menu of yesterday was quite enjoyable though. It started with a new episode of Untangling Tessa. It’s an intriguing new web series about a girl with anxiety and depression disorder, struggling to get out of/stay in her room, who finds an unwelcome someone living under her bed. The concept is compelling and the series seems to be well made and acted. Also, the character listing shows many interestingly literary-flavoured names.

Second, a new episode of East and West which is an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. The novel happens to be one of my least favourite classics. I love Cranford and really liked Wives and Daughters, but at the time I read North and South, I felt like the plot was just Margaret Hale complaining about everything, and practically everyone else (spoilers) dying… But it was ten years ago, so I might read it differently now. I did enjoy the description of the results of industrial revolution and the difference between North and South. Maybe I’ll put the novel on my to-reread list this year.

The web series seems like a huge feat though. Just today they answered questions on Twitter and there are just two persons handling the whole series at the moment! Besides this, it is also an interesting webseries and so well acted. Can’t wait to see Mr. Thornton! If we ever get to see him.

Instead of from sunny South to industialised North, this Maggie Hale has to follow her parents from foggy England to freezing Canada. I wonder if there’s going to be anything further in that than just the distance…

The third entertainment last night was one of my current favourites.  Social Medium is a vlog form web series about a young woman, who is electronically haunted. I wish I had a granny who would text me where my things are from the afterlife. My scissors are always missing.

Social Medium is not (as far as I can tell) based on a book, but an independent story and it feeds my imagination. As a kid I was afraid of the dark, had monsters in my closet (and vampires), believed in the local bogey-woman, Granny Hatchett (of whom a friend of mine, Marko Hautala, has written a horror novel about, by the way, which is being translated into English and will be an instant success – I’m still working up my courage to read it). It took some time to realise that I can actually turn this creepy vibe in my brain into creativity.

Social Medium inspires my imagination, which is the best thing a funny, silly, creepy web series can do. And it really is. Creepy. It returned on YouTube last week after a few months as a blog. There’s not much of it yet and one of the things I love about it are the gaps in the story. It doesn’t over-explain itself, it lets the watcher decide. I keep projecting my own theories and ideas upon it in my mind and it has actually helped me continue writing my own novel manuscript! It and H.P.Lovecraft.

OK. Just got another good idea that I need to scribble down, so I will continue this otherwise overlong text tomorrow to lament the passing of a web series character I have been crying over since I was eleven. Weird, right..

(And by the way, I just realised this morning that ‘web series’ is logically spelled separately of course. I apologise to any person who has been pulling their hair and cursing me for this misspelling.)

VUDoA and FMWL – the acronyms of the day

What I planned to do today: read Emma for the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge group on Goodreads. Organise my tea cupboards (yes, plural). Finish the sheep detective book and review it. Write a blog to accompany my vlog on Hyvä Lukija.

What I actually did: read some of Emma, but not a lot beyond the introduction by G.B. Stern and two chapters. Set up a blog and write an introduction for Valeton University Department of Andrewology on Tumblr (that’s the VUDoA -part of the title, vudofandrewology.tumblr.com is the link). This is a bit of silliness that has been breeding on Twitter over theories about Classic Alice. It’s so enjoyable to write something completely different for a while!

FMWL is an acronym for the webseries From Mansfield with Love which is, obviously, a webadaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

That novel is my favourite Austen!! I know, I know! What? you ask with indignation (or don’t, if you have a good taste). I hated the novel when I first read it. It was the first Austen I ever read and I truly marvel that I continued to read Austen after that experience. But really, the blame is with the translation. I read it in Finnish. There is no way that this satire-dripping text could ever be properly translated to Finnish. The first time I read it, I was bored by it and thought it would be the last thing I’d ever reread. Then, in college, someone gave me a really trampled edition of the book in English and I started to read it on a freezing bus. I missed my stop.

I feel like in Austen the main characters who have flaws have usually the most admirers. Emma, Elizabeth, Marianne, for example. And I’m not saying that I find Fanny somehow irresistible, but maybe there are just so many wonderful flawed characters in Mansfield Park apart from Fanny (and I’m not saying she’s flawless either, her flaws are a little more extraordinary, that’s all).

I just like the taste of that book. The whole novel is so drenched in satire that every sentence is as delightful as the next.

I love the novel so that I always have to justify the points that I like in it’s adaptations. For example the 1999 adaptation by Patricia Rozema. It’s a good film, but not really based on the book. Or, well, stupidly based on the book(and the Author). The Fanny Price in that version surely would have ended up with Henry Crawford. Edmund Bertram was far too dull for her.

Last summer BBC broadcast a radio drama of Mansfield Park. I have never wanted to slap Edmund (Benedict Cumberbatch) so much! I think the radio drama made him even worse than he is in the book.

So finally getting to FMWL, I have to say that I am truly enjoying the experience. Fanny is employed in Mansfield Park Hotel as a sort of jane-of-all-trades and hangs out with Edmund, who at this point at least is very sweet (I think he’s the first Edmund I’ve ever really liked, even in the beginning of the story – maybe I’m averse to clergy!! Am I Mary Crawford? No, for -other- reasons, surely). The Crawfords have yet to arrive so he can still get annoying, but I’m already quite taken with him.

It’s also great to hear something other than American English for a while. I haven’t watched a good Brittish series in a while, apart from QI. And there are very few non-American or Canadian literary webseries, it seems. At least that I’ve come across. Only NMTD springs to mind at the moment.

So yes, I like the series very much, the creators are good fun and it’s also nice to have a webseries roughly on the same-ish time-zone (only -2 hours). I don’t think I’ll love the adaptation for the same reasons as the book, but it is, so far, my favourite of Mansfield Park’s adaptations. They drink a LOT of tea. Kindred spirits.

Thus, ramblingly I leave you, not knowing if I have made any sense at all.

Just as a reminder to myself here in the end to blog about that series they are making of The Scarlet Pimpernel.


Flu-y webbrain

I was going to be a good little writer today and edit my novel manuscript,  but as it happens a flu has crept on me all of a sudden (not that sudden, thought it was just the dry air because it’s freezing outside, but nope).

The painkillers have just kicked in so I have a few moments before they fuzz my brain. I just wanted to finish rambling about what I was writing last night.

Actually, I also realised something about In Earnest. Maybe the stage like settings of the videos are as much a nod to the original medium of the text as for convenience. It is, after all, a play. Maybe that is the thing that somewhat distances me from the series: leaving space for movement and other action on the screen. Especially in the earlier videos it conflicted with the vlog form.

Yeah. I’ll muse on that a bit more.

The second webseries of last night was Writing Majors. For once a YouTube’s random suggestion paid off! Usually the thing’s just suggesting me to watch random Finnish sporting events (I mean why? Why? Why?).

The show seems promising. The concept is to cram famous writers of the public domain era in the same college, studying writing together. Emily Dickinson gets a video camera from her parents for Christmas and learns to use it with her besties Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. And I will stand by my Janily ship (or DickAusten, vomited by my brilliant brain last night). Just look at Emily following Jane on the camera for example at the party. It is positively caressing.

The Baker Street was an interesting experience. It feels like the first season of a whole webseries mistakenly published at once. Made me also realise that had I a flat mate, I would undoubtedly be the Sherlock of the scenario. Without the cool researching stuff. Just the mess anf the annoyance.

Sorry by the way that I’ve not provided links here. I find it too cumbersome to do with the phone but will rectify the matter when I open my computer.

Now I feel the fuzz coming on and still have to feed the cat…

Redefining the… oh, nevermind…

Today has been a very webseriesless day. Hmm.. I think I need to rethink the use of this blog. This might just be the place where I can write about stuff in more characters than multiples of 140.  So now is the time to flee!

I have been madly cleaning today. This happens entirely too rarely, I am afraid to admit, and since my Yule holiday was suddenly extended by two weeks, letting me stay three weeks at my mum’s ( D: ), instead of one, I am really glad I got the enthusiasm peak just now. It is truly interesting, what kind of states of decomposition different fruits reach when left to fend for themselves for three weeks. And a tiny bit yucky.

After I cleaned, I started to make dinner, beetroot steaks and apple-yoghurt sauce. This turned out to be a total failure. And I do not fail at cooking!! I don’t! There’s still a coconut-cream pie in the oven, that might save the day.


Ok, so. At this point I took the pie out of the oven, my computer crashed and I ended up watching YouTube after all, on my phone, while the computer sorted itself out. My entertainment were a new episode of In Earnest and Writing Majors and an entirely new series called Baker Street.

In Earnest has been fun. The characters are active online and the crossover with Green Gables Fables was interesting and not too intrusive. Or not intrusive enough? The Importance of Being Earnest has been one of my favourite plays since high school when I first read it, so I loved the excuse of rereading it again before starting to watch the series. For some reason the webseries hasn’t enthralled me the way some other shows have. I hope I’m not as superficial that the reason for it is that the main characters are male. I think several things affect it though, one of them being the simple fact that the speakers are always a long way from the camera. I don’t know. Maybe.

I have to present this theory to the Tweeps who love pondering media analytic things with me.

I just started wondering why my hands are growing chilly and noticed the wind is blowing snow horizontally outside and anyway it’s -13C (which shouldn’t affect the temperature inside, but it does at first when the walls grow colder).

So I will make some hot cocoa, a plate of gingerbread (I am not cutting that pie today, just a tiny little bit superstitious) and plant myself on my reading chair:

And enjoy the rest of the evening warmer. Will continue about the other two series tomorrow. (Or at night, which is social media banned time, but this is a blog, so…)


So, blogging…

I recently started blogging in Finnish (Hyvä Lukija) about books and reading and there are other projects evolving around that. But I feel like I need a vent for my other dear hobby and passion, webseries.

Mainly, literary webseries, though some independent original webseries might have slipped into my radar.

The thing about webseries is that they (at least the good ones) are much more inclusive and time-consuming than one unfamiliar with them might think. Definitely more time-consuming and inclusive than a tv series.

Like for example, my favourite webseries, Classic Alice, is approximately 5 minutes long per episode, but then there are the several rewatches, the gushing over the episode over Twitter about it, the uploading and editing of the reaction video, the continued gushing over Twitter about it, the paths that lead to Tumblr, BuzzFeed and beyond… And then awaiting with bated breath, whether the characters will tweet something to each other, whether the other characters will answer, whether the characters will reply to your tweets (in the case of Classic Alice, mostly yes, but in times of duress for the characters, according to the characteristics of the character 🙂 while all the time gushing over Twitter about it with other fans.

It is of course the watcher’s decision how much you get sucked into a webseries (mostly, I’m bad at reigning myself in…), but it’s usually just plain fun! And the people you meet through them,  the creators and the actors are the cream on the cake… or pie… or muffin… or snickerdoodle, whichever you are into ;P

My previous post on this blog, the one in Finnish, is written about the time that my insomnia started. Yep, it’s about insomnia. I still cannot sleep (without heavy medication), but I have to admit that having these series to follow, with everything they bring with them, I feel like they have helped me to feel included again. In something positive, something not tiring, something that I want to be a part of without it sucking me dry.

Also, especially literary webseries have given me a refreshing new viewpoint into classics! A few months ago I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and only a few pages in I was already planning an Instagram account for Jonathan Harker, and what could the mental asylum be in a modern adaptation (newspaper offices?). Today I stared at my toenails on the ceiling of the sauna (I am Finnish after all) and plotted a crossover of Classic Alice and Social Medium (another very cool webseries, just getting started) with the help of H.P.Lovecraft.

SO, in conclusion. Webseries are truly awesome and breed enormous amounts of creativity in the minds of the watchers.

Let this be my opening statement, and let the obsessive ramblings continue on this blog in the future.

Btw, the header I’m about to struggle on the page is for Classic Alice’s Indiegogo campaing, more info igg.me/at/SaveAlice