When I got to the end of episode 24 of Emma Approved and saw that I had to wait until February for a new video, I didn’t think I’d make it, especially when it ended with an uncharacteristically defeated Emma being comforted by a sweet rather than snarky Knightley. Like a lot of other fans, I filled the void by rewatching the series, multiple times, to pick up on the things that I may have missed the first time around. And now, on this our last Emma-less Thursday, I wanted to get out some thoughts about the series so far.
The Set Up
I have to admit first off, that it took me some time to get into the series and that made me very nervous. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries had me hooked from the first video, but with Emma Approved I was letting the videos stack up for a week or two before I caught up. Happily, I have moved past that phase and am now firmly in the refreshing-my-feed-every-Monday-and-Thursday-for-the-new-video phase. It’s a grand yet torturous place to be.
But the hiatus has given me time to think about why there was such a difference between the two. Emma needs set up. The story itself and the character take time to get into. In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries the set up is just about introducing characters, most of which live under one roof and whose situation in life is familiar to most of us. But Emma’s world is different. The story hinges on the audience really understanding her world, her place in it and her flaws. Emma Approved even took it upon themselves to add additional setup that wasn’t in the original novel in the form of Annie’s hesitations about her marriage to Ryan. It gave us time to see how Emma works, how she schemes and how much she trusts that her own point of view is the only point of view. And it gives us time to fall in love with her despite her intensity so that when she falls, we’re rooting for her to get back up.
The Little Misunderstandings
Before Emma Approved started, we did a podcast on Jane Austen’s novel where we tried to predict what the big mystery was going to be in the series. For The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, we spent most of our time speculating how Lydia’s story would be modernized, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on what the Emma equivalent was. At 24 episodes in, I’m still not convinced that there is that One Big Thing, but I think I’m having just as much fun with the little story tweaks. The note and concert tickets taking the place of Elton’s riddle. The song taking the place of the painting of Harriet (which I find exceedingly more believable than Clueless’s “I have the picture you took in my locker” moment). It’s all the little misunderstandings leading to the big reveals that create the tone for Emma, and Emma Approved is hitting that note perfectly with those cringe-worthy, look through your fingers, second-hand embarrassing moments. I will admit that I had to watch the Emma versus Senator Elton showdown in small intervals while taking deep breaths.
The Status Critique
While I do love where we’re at so far with the series, there are a few things that have been bothering me about how Emma’s world fits together and how that world fits into ours.
In Austen’s novel, Emma and her father hold the highest status position in their town of Highbury, second only to Mr. Knightley. Mr. Elton, however, is a bit lower on the totem pole, to the point where Emma is a bit insulted that he thinks he has a chance with her. In Emma Approved, we are given the impression that Emma runs with a pretty elite crowd, but the status equivalencies of the other characters are a little messy after that, especially in the case of Senator Elton. While his status does make him almost laughably uninterested in Harriet, it also makes him much higher than Emma and Knightley, which is a bit disappointing. I suppose it’s a lesser plot change, but it does change the dynamics between the characters a bit. Even Knightly being more equal with Emma rathat than higher than her is a slight change to their relationship that could have some consequences down the road.
The In-World Disparity
While we’re talking about everyone’s place, the other thing I find a bit confusing is the videos themselves. When the series started, a lot of people were asking how the videos fit into the world of Emma Approved and the creators made this post to explain it. To sum it up, Emma is recording the footage for her future documentary, but the edited videos that we see do not exist in-world. So the characters know that they are being recorded, but the videos are not publicly available as far as they are concerned. This cleared up my original confusion, but also saddened me because I thought that meant that we wouldn’t get any Q&A videos, which were some of my favorite videos in The LBD.
But apparently we can have Q&A videos, as we’ve now seen two of them. But I don’t understand how people are sending in questions for Emma and Knightley to answer in videos that they are not supposed to have seen. Earlier this week, there was an advice blog post written by Knightley and that seemed to make a bit more sense. Of course Emma would run a blog for her company. But the videos also get posted on the blog, which further messes up the fact that these videos don’t technically exist or at least haven’t been edited by lovely documentary makers yet.
I can understand the disparity from a creator’s viewpoint. They want the blog to be a place where viewers can go to get all the new Emma Approved content. And since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was heralded for it’s interactivity with the fans, they wouldn’t want to give that up either. But I still can’t deny that it makes my head spin to think about the logistics.
With all that said, I’m really just ready for this hiatus to be over so I can get some more lovely and occasionally cringe-worthy content. And I’m also ready for my standing ovation for getting through this whole post without dubbing anything as “so Emma approved.”