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!


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