“Middlemarch: The Series
Of all the classic novels you could imagine being turned into a web series for the 21st century, George Eliot
” might not be the first to spring to mind. Then again, where better to reinvent Eliot’s sprawling portrait of provincial life in early 19th century England — originally published in serial form across eight volumes — than on what has become the new home of installment entertainment, YouTube?
Yale Film Studies major Rebecca Shoptaw
’s “Middlemarch: The Series
” is an ingenious updating of Eliot’s novel which re-imagines it as a campus drama for the YouTube generation. “To me, [the novel] is something of a celebration of imperfect people living ordinary lives,” Shoptaw said when interviewed by Fandomania — and what better way to describe the appeal of the kind of to-camera vlogging style which her series riffs on? In “Middlemarch: The Series
,” the provincial town of Eliot’s original work becomes the University town of Middlemarch
, Connecticut — home to Lowick College, and a cast of characters at once familiar and made fresh by Shoptaw’s casting.
This is not the first web series to give a classic novel a modern update, of course, and it’s another which follows in the footsteps of the likes of Canadian series “Carmilla” in representing a broad spectrum of characters of different sexual orientations and genders. Shoptaw herself has said that the potential for reinvention she saw in the novel rested largely on her fascination with its gender dynamics. “The novel’s healthier relationships are almost entirely free of the gendered power dynamics that too often shape the relationships in classic novels,” the creator has commented. “Because of this, I was able to flip around several genders and sexualities without drastically changing the feel of the relationships.”
” will ultimately run for 70 episodes. You can watch episodes 1–36 on the series’s YouTube channel now. The second half of the series will be released there in August, according to the New Yorker. Watch the first episode below.
” Web Series Modernizes the Classic Novel was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.