April 25, 2014 24 Comments

Last fall I blogged about the little web series that could, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries contrasting that with its fellow digital format newbie. It was the blog entry in which I shared early thoughts on the spin-off, Emma Approved. This post is a mish-mash of Emma Approved-ness because…

  • a.) it’s Friday
  • b.) I’m literally at my wit’s end keeping up with reviews – who needs to meet deadlines
  • c.) the web series is on hiatus until – say what, June 
EMMA APPROVED. Fangirl-ing (just because!) over the web series that is Emma Approved. All text is © Rissi JC and RissiWrites.com

All of this added up to a sensible conclusion that it’d be acceptable to write a bit about my progression of thoughts on Emma Woodhouse, the girl whose videos are busy documenting her “greatness.”  

First impressions of this were very ho-hum. After seeing a few episodes, I then did a missing-Emma-Approved-don’t-care phase (which translates to missing several in a row before catching up one late winter afternoon when I didn’t feel like doing anything else). The a set of Tumblr photos lure me back. Needless to say, I am now more aware of when new episodes release and have to confess I get a little bit giddy when seeing the Twitter photos of Emma, Knightley and Company attending their “Emma approved” events, all planned by their new event coordinator, Harriet.

In the beginning I had to adjust my mindset having just come off the adorableness of Lizzie Bennet. Then my opinion of Emma who seems highly annoying – her winks, her self-professed “greatness,” her meddling and all that jazz, didn’t go well. In retrospect I did forget to remind myself that Emma Woodhouse is exasperating. Still I never feel this from the films.  

RELATED | Fangirl Confessions: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Five Years Later
EMMA APPROVED #FWarchives Click To Tweet
EMMA APPROVED. Fangirl-ing (just because!) over the web series that is Emma Approved. All text is © Rissi JC and RissiWrites.com

Fortunately, Alex Knightley can make anything better.

What really sold me on the web series is his character. Through all of my Emma journeys, it’s been Mr. Knightley who has been the best part. I love how he challenges Emma. He also he respects her enough to challenge her, and I love that he believes in her. 

I love how he loves her. In this version, I’m ho-hum about him in the beginning. However he’s become something of a modern hero in many ways because let me tell you, he is starting to show Emma who is boss as only Knightley can! That scene (episode 36) when he physically holds Emma back from ruining Harriet’s precious moment? Yep, that’s classic.  

Since that first episode, fans have also met many other familiar characters – everyone from Miss Bates and Emma’s sister (who by the way, has her own moments of hilarity) to Mr. Elton, and it’s certainly helped along the story-telling which is what they should do. Same as with LBD, writers have masterfully (I don’t think that word is over embellishing) adapted this. To undertake this, they have two strikes against them. First it’s a web series with probably 5-7 minutes max per episode, plus it’s a contemporary version of Jane Austen’s classic novel, which in and of itself is challenging. Bottom line, sure Knightley has made things interesting as has the moments building – tender looks, anyone!? – between he and Emma, ever so subtly leading up to the mistaken disaster with Harriet and Emma’s realization, what we probably all delighted in most was the brilliant crossover. Yes, Pemberley Digital managed to connect LBD and their new sensation. How clever are they?  

No matter what, I love Emma and her cute ploys. And best of all, I know that the gang has more surprises in store which makes this girl doubly excited for the triumphant return of Emma Approved and Company.

What about you, all. Are you liking the series just as before? Are you a fangirl?

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Kristin April 25, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    I really do like the series, and it continues to grow on me. Mr. Knightley is perfect. :) I think they've done a really good job of adapting it to a modern setting and the casting has been great. Mr. Elton is the perfect scumbag, and bringing in Caroline Lee as his fiancé was a stroke of genius! They are truly one of the most unlikable couples in literature, and for some reason they're even worse in a modern setting…

    Of course I wish that they weren't going on hiatus again, but I don't mind as much this time. I'm glad that they're supposedly announcing the new series next month (I think?).

    Even though I have a harder time getting invested in web series (compared to films or books or TV), I really do love Emma Approved.

    • Rissi April 25, 2014 at 10:14 PM

      Same here, Kristin. I'm really very fond of this series. From my first impression to now, my opinion has definitely grown on me and Knightley is perfect! I think he's a class act (always have) and I'm pretty much thrilled at the tension between he and Emma these days. It's building to that moment of "badly done, Emma" while also being full of such love. I admire the writers skill. Adapting Austen to contemporary is hard enough, adapting it in web series form has to be 100 times more difficult. Kudos to them!

      It was a stroke of genius to cross over EA and LBD! That just made my day.

      It's a bummer this is going on hiatus however I do think they ended at just the right time – way to build up Jane's entrance. Ooo! Another series!? Wonder what they'll adapt!? :)

    • Kristin April 25, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      I just stumbled across this: http://www.hollywood.com/news/celebrities/56957090/emma-approved-stars-joanna-sotomura-and-brent-bailey-talk-their-on-and-offscreen-romance .

      And I'm not going to lie…it kind of made my day. :) Apparently the actors who play Emma and Mr. Knightley are dating in real life, and I just think that's adorable! No wonder they've got such great chemistry. :)

    • Rissi April 26, 2014 at 2:39 AM

      How sweet is this!? Isn't it fun to read about these real-life romances? Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are together in real life too which makes their on-screen romance all the sweeter. The models for Becky Wade's respective Porter family novels are together also, which is a fun bit of trivia. Now I'm going to love Emma and Knightley so much more too – great chemistry? Yep, there is a reason for that! :)

      This made my Friday fun, too, Kristin! Thanks for sharing that.

  • Ruth A. April 25, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    I LOVE Emma Approved. I think everyone is just perfectly cast, especially Emma and Knightley. :)

    • Rissi April 25, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      *Waves* Hi, Ruth! :)

      Me, too! I'm such a fangirl of Emma Approved now. And of course, Knightley… aw, he's a keeper. :)

  • Ella April 25, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    This is such a fun web series!!!
    Alex Knightley does make it more enjoyable:)

    • Rissi April 25, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      It is indeed, Ella! :)

      …Alex is wonderful. Glad we get to know the hero so much more than in LBD. Yay for that.

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com April 25, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I can't wait to try this one. :)

    • Rissi April 25, 2014 at 10:18 PM

      Yay! You'll like it, Juju. Especially as Emma is your favorite (?) if I'm not mistaken. :)

  • Maria April 26, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    I was the same way as you at first. The episodes were ok, but I didn't watch every week. Now I'm excited to see how things turn out!!!
    And Mr. Knightly is cute!!! =)

    • Rissi April 28, 2014 at 8:19 PM

      LBD was my go-to Pemberley digital series, Maria. Now, I'm quite fond of both LBD and this. They're clever and of course, the acting is great, storytelling makes me wish I could reimagine Austen so well. Like you, I'm invested in the weekly installments and meeting all the newbies.

      Knightley is cute. Love his character! :)

  • Alexandra April 26, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    I started out "meh" about Emma Approved too, after absolutely adoring LBD. But needless to say, I'm completely and totally hooked now. I am blown away at how perfectly they adapted the story to a modern setting (I would have *never* thought to translate the Knightley-asking-Harriet-to-dance into asking her to be his "plus one", but it's SO brilliant!!!!) and how awesome the characters and their development are. And of course, Alex Knightley. Knightley has always been my favorite Austen hero, and I absolutely *love* how they've developed the character! I have to say that I'm *not* looking forward to the Box Hill incident. I'm so attached to the characters, it's going to be painful. Hiatus can't end soon enough.

    • Rissi April 28, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Glad to know I wasn't the only one who didn't love Emma. At first. I think I was just too fangirl-ish over LBD still and coming down off that clever awesome-ness made me leery over starting Emma Approved. Needless to say, I'm quite fond of this one now and as so many of us have mentioned in this thread, it's been a thrill to experience the writer's modernizing this – I'm jealous of their talent. In the best sense of the word. :) Since we left off about to meet Jane, I wonder how that will go down? Well played, writers.

      It's nice to see so many of the characters prior to halfway through which I think LBD did more often. Especially since it means having Knightley in nearly every episode which is lovely as is the back-and-forth between he and Emma – they are just aww…; that romantic building is great. :)

      Yeah, that Box Hill scenario is going to be hard. Especially seeing how good a relationship Emma and Maddie have right now! Ahhh… Emma!

      Great to read your thoughts, Alexandra. :)

  • Rachel Hoyt April 26, 2014 at 5:53 AM

    YAY! I was hesitant at first too, since the first few episodes were okay but didn't pull me in like LBD had. But now, I sit and wait for 11 o'clock to come (9 a.m. Pacific) on Mondays and Thursdays so I can watch Emma and co. I admit I get disappointed when I look at the listed cast in the description and don't see Alex Knightley's name, though obviously that's not all I watch it for. The scenes with him and Emma are just so GOOD. I've not read Emma yet, but I've seen enough adaptations and read enough ABOUT Emma to understand it well enough, and I so agree with everything you said about Knightley. I'm also loving Emma coming to understand the effects of her meddling, even well-intentioned meddling. :)

    I was going to mention that the actors for Emma and Alex were dating in real life, but I see someone beat me to it! Chemistry! :D

    • Rissi April 28, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Makes me glad I wasn't the only one, Rachel. :) That was what held me back too – just all that awesomeness of LBD. I binge-watched them all (for the first time!) right before Emma's first episode aired, so Lizzie's videos were still firmly in my mind and really, I'm not sure Emma Approved has surpassed LDB's awesomeness.

      Knightley isn't the only reason to watch (fashion, supporting characters). Though I must confess, I love that he's in nearly all the episodes – or a lot more than Darcy. ;) He and Emma's scenes have started to change from the annoying brother-sister relationship and it's being written to perfection. All I know of Emma is the film adaptations as well, and it's enough to compare them to this modern interpretation. So far, I'd say it's brilliant!

      Emma does meddle to much for her own good – and it'll get worse before it gets better. Ah, well, we cannot help but love her.

      Isn't that just the cutest thing about the real-life Emma and Knightley!? Makes me even more happy for their chemistry on-screen. :)

    • Rachel Hoyt May 7, 2014 at 4:02 AM

      Oh my gosh, FASHION! I swear I swoon over something in each episode and go drool over it online. Mostly I just stare since I'm poor, but I want it all!

      No, I don't think I could say it's better than LBD, but I think it could be! There's just something so lovely about Emma's character transformation, especially since she does it without changing what's essentially "Emma", but just becomes a better, more conscientious person. I'm excited to see how it plays out throughout the rest of the series.

    • Rissi May 9, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      LOL, this is me, too, Rachel – I look up some of the things I love and just "window shop." *sigh* It satisfies. For now. ;)

      …Or we can hunt up something similar only less expensive.

      Same here. And I suspect once we got past Emma's greatest blunder, she'll change even more while still keeping intact what is, at the heart, essentially Emma. Cannot. Wait.

  • Hannah Barta April 26, 2014 at 5:47 PM


    I was so happy you introduced me to this series, Rissi, and I've loved keeping up with it ever since! I agree about Emma–I think it was just last episode when she said something and I thought, "She is so stuck-up!" even though she has probably improved at least somewhat since her perfect 20-for-20 streak was broken.

    Alex Knightley is brilliant. Like you, I wasn't sure about him at first, but he's now probably my favorite character on the show.

    I also thought they did the whole "Elton snubbing Harriet" scene incredibly well. Their creativity with placing this drama in the modern world has been almost flawless–I would say absolutely, but I personally am pretty dissatisfied with Frank Churchill's character, who has only appeared on the show two or three times now–and I don't like their casting of him. I also have noticed that we haven't heard much of Jane Fairfax, but I know that the last episode suggested SPOILER that Emma Approved might be hiring her, so we'll probably get re-introduced to the Frank/Jane storyline then END OF SPOILER. I have some other minor complaints, but overall I really, really enjoy it, and am so sad that they're not coming back till June! I remember when they took their hiatus in December/January and I was waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. . . .

    walking in the air.

    • Rissi April 28, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      Spoiler Reply:

      Emma is such a meddler! It's in her nature, and really, that girl is too fond of her documentary. ;) That being said, it may get worse before it gets better, but she does learn (if we are to trust the writer's with her character from Austen). Which is what counts – we can make mistakes just so long as we learn from them. And Joanna is doing a nice job in making Emma still likable despite her superior attitude.

      …and Alex is going to play a huge role in that. Wonder how this actor will do the "badly done, Emma" bit. Jeremy Northem is golden in that scene. So far, I'm loving Alex.

      That snubbing storyline was brilliant, Hannah! I agree. How are these writer's managing this all so seamlessly? It's just been fantastic. Modernizing Austen is hard enough but doing it in short 5-7 minute videos!? That has to add more pressure. Kudos to them. To be honest, I cannot even remember Frank much. However, yeah, I suspect he'll pop up again once we finally meet Jane (well played, writers – ending just as we're about to meet her!).

      If there is any comfort in that June return date, we're all in this waiting game together! :)

      So glad you're enjoying this… it's IS adorable.

  • Birdie April 26, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    Great post! I love this series soo much and I'm so miffed we have to wait until June for new episodes. As you know, Knightley is my absolute favourite and he keeps getting better and better!

    • Rissi April 28, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      Hey, Birdie! Glad you stopped by. :)

      Knightley is awesome. I think he's probably my favorite Austen character. I love how he treats Emma, challenges her, makes her stare at her own faults, loves her… just everything. So far the Pemberley Digital gang is doing Austen's character proud. Well done to them.

      …we're in this waiting together! At least there is that. ;)

  • Alyssa C. May 7, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Oh, I definitely love this series! And Mr. Knightley is just so adorable. I can hardly wait for more–it's too bad they had to go on another hiatus, but ah well, we can just wait and see what will happen when June comes. :)

    • Rissi May 7, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      Ditto. Knightley is one of the major reasons I enjoy this, Alyssa – that and the fact that the writers managed to bring in my favorite LBD. My heart is won over. ;)

      The hiatus will just create more excitement for me – and well, they timed it really well, too. Cannot wait to see what comes of the return.

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