Emma Approved is a Vlog Series by the creator and writers behind the incredibly popular Emmy-approved webseries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It follows the same vlog style as its spiritual forerunner, detailing the story of Jane Austen's Emma in YouTube videos posted twice a week. The premise? Professional matchmaker and lifestyle coach Emma Woodhouse documenting her rise to Oprah-level fame and success.
The series opens on Emma tying up loose ends on her twentieth successful match — her friend Annie Taylor and cupcake company CEO Ryan Weston. When her business partner Alex Knightley puts his foot down and insists that she gets herself an assistant, Emma hires sweet, gullible Harriet Smith and decides to better Harriet's life by finding her a husband worthy of her — and who could be worthier than the handsome, recently-single, youngest Californian state senator ever, James Elton? As in the original, Hilarity Ensues.
The first episode premiered on October 7th, 2013, on Pemberley Digital.
In September 2018 the show joined the ranks of shows getting revivals, as Emma Approved, Inc. prepares to go public and seeks shareholders, who can contribute via a Patreon page. The show also transitioned into a new Framing Device: a Mockumentary, filmed in a cinema-verité-with-asides style similar to The Office (US). However, the Patreon failed to gain enough supporters, resulting in the revival being Cut Short after eight episodes which primarily focus on Emma's attempts to break out of a depression, after a failed attempt at matchmaking between Anne Elliott and Freddie Wentworth, by taking on a client who recently left the company he founded and is in need of a complete life makeover: Richard "Ricky" Collins of Collins & Collins.
Emma Approved provides examples of:
- Adapted Out: Augusta Hawkins, Mr. Elton's rebound, is completely replaced in favor of Canon Welding.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the book, John Knightley is a good husband who occasionally sneers at his wife who is less intelligent than him, while here he's borderline emotionally abusive to his wife.
- Adaptation Name Change:
- Age Lift
- Alex, who was introduced as a 37-year-old in the book, has been de-aged to around the same age as Emma (mid-twenties).
- Emma was almost 21 at the start of the book. Here, she is in her mid-twenties according to Bernie Su.
- Harriet was 17-18 in the book, but is 23 here.
- Anne Taylor, who was Emma's governess and Parental Substitute in the book, is presumably much younger here, as is her husband Ryan Weston (who is now Frank's stepbrother, not father).
- Audience Participation: After Harriet takes up music, fans are encouraged to make their own versions of her songs, with the sheet music provided.
- The Bet: Emma and Alex have a wager early on: If she can get Elton as a client within the day, she has permission to set Alex up on a date. If not, Emma has to lunch with Ms. Bates.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Alex knows Emma's Berserk Button. Better, he is willing to tease her with it. Worse, he actually presses it hard when trying to convince her that she's wrong, and the result isn't exactly funny.
- The following sentence comes out of Emma's mouth in Episode 1 of the revival and shows that she has, well and truly, fallen off the deep end on a toboggan that is picking up speed: "Dear Anne Elliot, I, Emma Woodhouse, vow to dedicate my life to see to it that you and Mr Wentworth are happily married - ha ha - You'll regret it for the rest of your life if you do not go through with this. I will stop at nothing to see you walk down the aisle, even if I have to tie you up and drag you down the alter myself - hmm. I am Emma Woodhouse and I will not fail you. Ever. Do you hear me? Please call me to discuss."
- The Big Damn Kiss: Episode 70.
- Big Brother Instinct: Big Sibling Instinct: Emma and Alex towards Harriet. Since they are foils, they go radically differently about it. Emma is very condescending and manipulative towards her, and starts a Pygmalion Plot (where she helps Harriet become more sophisticated) because she's certain that this is the best for her. She doesn't respect Harriet's choices. Alex thinks Harriet is fine this way. He never tries to change her and seems to just have trouble dealing with her Moe-ness tendencies.
- Beneath the Mask: Emma's lack of durable and deep-seated self-confidence (and not the superficial, unstable vanity she shows constantly) is foreshadowed since episode 3 at least.
- Both Sides Have a Point: In Episode 30, after Emma's plan to reroute her sister's family vacation begins to go awry, they get into a pretty intense debate.IZZY: I did exactly what he does to me. That's called being a hypocrite.
EMMA: No, that's called fighting fire with fire, and sometimes that's the only way to win!note
IZZY: No. I don't want to win. I don't want to fight, at all. Emma, if there is a winner, then there is a loser. And when you have winners and losers in a marriage, everyone loses.
- Canon Welding: The fact that Emma Approved takes place in the same universe as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is made explicit by the identity of Elton's new fiancée: Caroline Lee.
- The Cameo: And Bing pops up during his sister's engagement party.
- Character Blog
- Chronic Hero Syndrome:
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Emma is jealous about the camera. She doesn't like seeing Alex smoulder at her viewers, because the Wink "Ding!" is her privilege!
- The Cutie: It's not hard to feel this way about adorable, wide-eyed, pushed-around Harriet.
- Deadpan Snarker: Alex.
- Die for Our Ship: Emma displays this in-universe towards Martin, trying to make Harriet think the worst of him.
- Extreme Doormat:
- Harriet begins her assistant work for Emma this way. Although she questions Emma's decisions more than most examples, she's still completely willing to do them with gusto nevertheless.
- Izzy can't say no to John, which, given the setting update, is a much bigger deal than in the book.
- The Fashionista: Emma wears a new outfit every episode.
- Caroline is as well. She even tries to get Emma to go shopping with her
- Fist Pump: Emma does this at the end of Ep. 7, after Annie comes to her and tells her she doesn't actually want to cancel the wedding.
- Freudian Slip: Alex refers to Emma's potential next client as her next "victim" in episode 9.
- Granola Girl: Harriet. As she says, "doing good for other people is my life philosophy!"
- Gratuitous French: Episode 24 is titled "Vignt-et-un," French for "twenty-and-one," referring to how Harriet and Elton would have been Emma's 21st successful match, and Emma's had twenty successful matches and one failed one.
- Handshake Substitute: In episode 23, Emma and Ryan exchange a fist bump at the photo booth. They both finish it off by making sizzling sounds.
- Heel Realization: After the (long time in coming) "Reason You Suck" Speech from Alex it's made very clear to Emma just how her pretentious and meddling actions make everyone's lives worse not better.
- Heroic BSoD: Upon finally having it shoved in her face that Elton was always interested in her rather than Harriet, Emma sort of...shuts down for a while. Her first attempt at matchmaking afterward results in an hour of her spilling her guts about the mistake to the quite confused client.
- She has an even worse one after Jane and Alex both chew her out about her actions at the Boxx party and quit. She might have been able to handle either one on its own, but both in quick succession reduce her to Inelegant Blubbering as she begs Harriet not to leave her too.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode from 49 onwards (as of the time of this writing, at least) is named after a TV show.
- Inelegant Blubbering: In Episode 64 Emma is reduced to it by both Jane and Alex quitting over her behavior at the Boxx party. It's a nasty sight.
- I Warned You: Defied in Episode 23 about the failure of Match #21.Emma: ...Don't say it.
Alex: I didn't say anything.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex:Harriet: [I don't have self-confidence].
Emma: Fake it.
Harriet: How do you fake it?
Emma: It starts with shoes.
- Jerkass Has a Point: James Elton when he rejects Harriet because they run in different circles and have clashing lifestyles. He's unnecessarily harsh about it, but he's not wrong.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Emma sails through life on dreams and blithe confidence. Elton calls her on it when asking if he and his proposed match, Harriet, actually have any real chemistry.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Emma leaves all the boring important stuff to Alex. She's fully devoted into making other people's lives better.
- The Matchmaker: At the start of the series, Emma is working on match #20.
- Named by the Adaptation: Mr Weston didn't have a first name in the novel. His name is Ryan here.
- Nemesis as Customer: Emma has to organize the engagement party for Senator Elton. They are mad at each other after her disastrous attempt to set him up with her assistant Harriet. Worse, Elton's fiancee is Caroline Lee, now not bothering with the sheep's clothing she wore in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. During the preparations for the party, the happy couple does everything to humiliate Emma and especially Harriet, both of whom have to put up with it somehow.
- Nerves of Steel: Alex Knightley really tries not to lose his cool but he also remains Emma's Sanity Chain throughout the story.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Emma founded her company on her wealthy father's money.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Emma is not amused by Alex drawing comparisons between her and Caroline.
- Oblivious to Love: Despite being a professional matchmaker, Emma fails to notice Senator Elton's feelings for her: later, with the benefit of hindsight, even she wonders how she didn't see it coming. It also takes a bit of a bombshell before she notices her own feelings for Alex.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Alex knows when Emma's upset: she organizes. Or she references Steve Blass.Alex: The more you talk sports, the more worried I get.
- Plucky Girl:
- Emma is absolutely certain that her matchmaking plans will work, that she will make it even bigger than Oprah, and that Alex and Annie will put up with her plan.
- Harriet is one as well, as shown in her application video.
- Precision F-Strike: The one piece of profanity in the series comes when Alex says of Emma's excuses for her nastiness to Maddy at the Boxx party "That's bullshit and you know it."
- Product Placement: Emma gives Alex a Samsung Galaxy product in Episode 20.
- Race Lift
- Emma is played by an actress of half-Japanese and half-German descent.
- Emma's sister Isabella (called "Izzy" here) is played by a Hawaiian actress.
- Miss Bates (named "Maddy" here) and Jane Fairfax are played by black actresses.
- Frank Churchill is played by a Chinese actor.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In episode 64, Alex is furious with Emma for the way she humiliated Maddy, and calls her out for it.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: While being much less level-headed and more plucky than Alex, it's clear that Emma sees him as a team-member, and he doesn't question her goal yet. This is even visually conveyed in Episode 32.
- The Reliable One: Alex is charged with all the boring-but-important stuff.
- Rich Bitch: Played with in Emma. She is mildly interested in fashion and loves her expensive outfits, which she sometimes uses as bribes to Screw the Rules, I Have Money! effect. She started her company with her father's money and uses it to take control of other people's life, because she feels superior and thinks they don't know what they want. She's also extremely driven and hard-working to the point she gained her own client base after her father's initial input, genuinely wants to help others. It doesn't hurt that she's mostly right and works as a Blithe Spirit Chaotic Good Wonka Archetype.
- The Only Way They Will Learn: Inverted with Emma. She thinks people are not able to see what is good for themselves until she shows it to them.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Emma and Alex. Constantly. He seems to out-passive her by a few dozen leagues.
- Running Gag: Emma coming to a conclusion at the end of the episode, feeling that everything's tied up neatly, and then suddenly remembering the last dangling thread: "Harriet!"
- Samaritan Syndrome: After a few episodes, it's clear that Emma doesn't need to help others. She just has to.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Alex and Emma.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In episode 6, Emma sent Frank's assistant Michelle a pair of polarised sunglasses from Valentino's spring line to get a direct line to Frank. It's implied that Michelle posted about them on her social media page.
- Secret Relationship: As in the original, (Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax). The Race Lifts mentioned above result in an incidental Token Minority Couple.
- Servile Snarker: Alex never fails to get a dig in at his business partner's methods.
- Setting Update: Events from a Regency England novel are updated to modern-day California.
- Shaped Like Itself: Emma's idea of role-playing is to have the people "pretend" to be what they really are.
- Shipper on Deck: Emma for Ryan and Annie, and probably for everyone she has ever match-made. She does genuinely care about them, as shown when she correctly deduced the source of Annie's cold feet about marrying Ryan and took measures to prevent it. Her reasoning is that she could tell Annie really loved him.
- Skewed Priorities: At the base level, Emma is not an example. She wants to make others happy and happens to focus on their personal life, she's self-reliant and ambitious and will not give up on her plans. It just happens that she has a terrible superiority complex and is certain that manipulating others into accepting a stylish life, maybe sacrificing independence and future chances at happiness because this will look adorable.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Emma says she's going to be bigger and better than Oprah.EMMA: I AM NOT A NORMAL PERSON, ALEX KNIGHTLEY!
ALEX: Oh, I know.
EMMA: Do not doubt me!
ALEX: I... don't think I'm allowed to!
- Spoiled Sweet: Emma was born into tremendous wealth, she's doted on by her father and adored by her older sister and family friends. She wants to make other people happy, and she's charming when doing it. She's just not ready to understand what concretely makes them happy, because she's too spoiled and shallow to get into the depths of it.
- Stepford Smiler: Emma is a type A. No matter how much Annie's cold feet displeases her and endangers her plans, she steadfastly pretends to be unaffected and to leave her space. Annie isn't fooled. Particularly clear in episode 16, as after Knightley furiously tells her off for convincing Harriet to turn down Martin, her facade is clearly cracked and she spends the last minute of the video struggling to cover it.
- Uptown Girl: Emma's friend Annie is marrying into the Westons, a sprawling family of old money, and this is part of what causes her cold feet. Since they get married in the first chapter of the book, the wedding being back on is a bit of a Foregone Conclusion.
- Unusual Euphemism: Episode 12 is titled "The Rooster Obstacle" and focuses on Martin's being in the way of Emma's projected Match #21. He's a cockblock.
- The 'Verse: Shares one with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; Pemberley Digital publishes both her videos and Gigi Darcy's. See also the entry for Canon Welding, where the two series are very explicitly linked together.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Alex and Emma. She teases him about his clothes. And ruins them to improve his fashion sense. He hits her Berserk Button and takes a burning pot at her self-esteem to stop her casualties.
- Wham Episode:
- Episode 23, "Moment of Triumph". The first intimations are dropped that Match #21 is not destined to be, complete with amusing party shenanigans, a photo booth and Alex giving a couple of hilarious Aside Glances at the camera. But in The Stinger we see... Emma, tears unshed, in clear confusion about everything. It's the first genuine moment of Character Development for her, and it raises the stakes of the show: all the buried flaws that trouble the foundations of Emma-land are not going to stay buried for long...
- Episode 64, "Boxx Hill". Emma's self-centeredness is revealed to have gotten the better of her: at the restaurant opening, she publicly humiliated Maddy Bates over her always-inedible homemade jams. This causes both Jane and Alex to resign in protest. The episode ends with Emma, now with only Harriet to rely on, in total Heroic B So D.
- Wham Line: "I'm in love with Alex Knightley!" Made even better when Alex himself pops up in the background, then quickly turns around and leaves.
- Wink "Ding!": Emma's big signature move. When Alex tries to imitate her and eye the camera, she's very offended.
- Yes-Man: Harriet is introduced as being a Yes Woman constantly nodding to Emma.