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Web Video / Middlemarch: The Series

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"We didn't make history— we didn't even make the local news, but... we lived. These lovely, messy, ordinary lives. And I think that's what matters. We might not change the world, but we're sure as hell gonna live in it."

Middlemarch: The Series is a web series adaptation of Middlemarch by George Eliot, written, directed, produced, shot, and edited by Rebecca Shoptaw. It follows the lives of Dorothea "Dot" Brooke and her friends over the course of most of a school year at Lowick College in the fictional town of Middlemarch, Connecticut.

Middlemarch: The Series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Aside from the obvious gender-flipped characters, Tertius Lydgate becomes Thomas Lydgate and Celia Brooke becomes Celia Arroyo. Additonally, Dorothea's primary, but infrequent, nickname in the book is "Dodo," while in the series it is "Dot," which she is almost exclusively called by.
  • Adaptational Gender Identity: Jamie is nonbinary, while their book counterpart, James Chettam, is a cisgender man.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Although she starts out fairly self-absorbed, Rosy goes through a lot of character development over the course of the series, and ends up being much nicer and more heroic than Rosamund was in the original novel.
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  • Adaptational Sexuality: In the original novel, everyone was straight. In this adaptation, Casaubon and Lydgate are the only ones who are.
  • Age Lift: All of the characters are younger than their novel counterparts, being college students. Dot and Casaubon still have a somewhat uncomfortable age gap, though, with her being a sophomore and him a grad student.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Rosy dates Lydgate for much of the series but later develops feelings for Billie and has some Ship Tease with Adele, which suggests that she is bisexual. However, some viewers have noted that her idealized, romcom-esque view of romance and her superficial criteria for being interested in Lydgate could read as her being a closeted lesbian under the influence of heteronormativity instead.
  • Beta Couple: Celia and Jamie get together pretty early on and have hardly any relationship drama throughout, unlike the rest of the cast.
  • Blackmail:
    • After Dot breaks up with Casaubon, he blackmails her so that she'll never date Billie.
    • Raffles is revealed to have blackmailed Bulstrode into giving him the paid Featherstone internship.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Although Casaubon's blackmail of Dot does initially work, her feelings for Billie ultimately win out, and she opts instead to first show the video to her friends, and then post it online as a "teaser" for the documentary.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Fred is sure he has the Featherstone internship in the bag thanks to his parents' influence, and even brags about it in class in front of the chairman of the board. He doesn't end up getting even the unpaid internship, and it forces him to reevaluate what he really wants to do with his life.
    • Lydgate is confident to the point of arrogance and doesn't consider for a second that he might not get in to any Ivy League med schools, and only applies to the "backwater" school Freshitt because his advisor forces him to. It of course ends up being the only one he gets accepted at, and he spirals out of control for a while.
  • Breather Episode: In the middle of the blackmail drama, Jamie and Celia decide to provide some lightness by filming themselves playing a cute game in a blanket fort they made.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Fred begins most of his videos with "Ladies, gentlemen, and otherwise..."
    • Jamie's "Exactly!" is discussed as this in one of the final episodes, though it's really more of a Verbal Tic.
  • Cast Full of Gay: By the end of the series, the only straight characters are Lydgate and Casaubon. Jamie lampshades this in one episode, saying that they're not sure they even have any straight friends.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Fred and Max.
  • Closet Key: Billie ends up being one for Rosy.
  • Creator Cameo: Rebecca Shoptaw can briefly be seen as a background party-goer in "A Party of Sorts."
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: In "Q & Gay," Fred and Max answer a few questions from viewers. Max is confused because at the time of filming, none of the episodes would've been posted online yet in-universe, so they wouldn't have any viewers.
  • Gender Flip: Will Ladislaw becomes Billie Ladislaw and Mary Garth becomes Max Garth.
  • The Ghost: Bulstrode never appears on-screen, but his actions have a big impact on Fred and Max's storyline.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dot draws in on herself for a while after learning of Casaubon's blackmail, even going non-responsive for most of an episode.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • Jamie is initially interested in Dot, who is oblivious and thinks they like her roommate Celia. By the time she does find out, she's already started dating Casaubon.
    • Billie falls for Dot while Dot is dating Billie's cousin Casaubon. She's actually mostly fine with the situation. Ultimately subverted, however, and the two do end up together.
    • Rosy develops feelings for Billie, who by that point is hopelessly in love with Dot.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: One of Dot's flaws. In Celia's words:
    Celia: Dot doesn't see things the way we do, the way that most people do. She often doesn't see what's right in front of her, and a lot of times she sees what she wants to see instead of what's actually there.
  • Jerkass Realization: Lydgate has one regarding his treatment of Rosy near the end of the series, and the two make up, though they decide to never try to date each other again.
  • Last-Name Basis: Billie always calls her cousin Casaubon by his last name, an indicator of their strained relationship. Most of the other characters apart from Dot also refer to him this way.
  • Love Confession:
    • Jamie spends the first few episodes trying to tell Dot that they like her, but she's completely oblivious.
    • Rosy's confession to Billie late in the series ends up causing all kinds of problems when Dot accidentally walks in in the middle.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Jamie initially likes Dot, who's oblivious, but ultimately ends up with Celia, Dot's roommate. Dot dates Casaubon, whose cousin Billie falls for her, and Dot eventually reciprocates her feelings. Rosy dates Lydgate, but later develops feelings for Billie, and ultimately gets some ship tease with Billie's roommate Adele. The only ones who escape this tangled mess are Fred and Max, whose feelings for each other stay constant throughout, though that doesn't spare them from their own relationship drama.
  • Meaningful Look:
    • After their first meeting, Dot pauses at the doorway while leaving to film Billie from afar for a few seconds before Celia calls to her to catch up.
    • Billie spends a lot of time looking at Dot whenever they're in a scene together, indicating her feelings long before they're actually made explicit.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Casaubon accuses Dot of cheating on him with Billie after she breaks up with him.
  • Oblivious to Love: Dot doesn't realize that Jamie likes her, and instead is convinced that they like Celia. And later, she doesn't understand at first why Casaubon would feel the need to blackmail her into not dating Billie.
  • Odd Friendship: Jamie and Lydgate are about as different as two people could be, but they actually get along pretty well. Jamie is somewhat horrified when they realize that they really are friends.
  • Pair the Spares: Rosy and Adele have a lot of ship tease in the last few episodes.
  • Perspective Reversal: Dot and Billie echo each other's sentiments from the first goodbye in the second.
    Billie: You'll forget all about me.
    Dot: No, I won't forget about you.
    Dot: You won't forget about me, right?
    Billie: [...] I'd literally forget about everything else before I'd forget about you.
  • Queer Romance: Several characters have been gender-bent to make all of the endgame couples queer.
  • Race Lift: Both Dot and Max are black in this adaptation.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Casaubon tries to blackmail Dot into never dating Billie after Dot breaks up with him.
  • Romantic Rain:
    • Fred attempts to invoke this when trying to make up with Max. It doesn't exactly work out as planned, and he ends up getting a horrible cold to boot.
    • Dot and Billie's first real bonding opportunity comes when Billie gets stuck at Dot's dorm due to a rainstorm.
  • Setting Update: The series reimagines the novel's characters as college students in the modern day.
  • Ship Tease: Between Rosy and Adele in the last few episodes, which is picked up on by Fred to his amusement.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Rosy's character development amounts to this, especially compared to her novel counterpart.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There are multiple intersecting storylines happening simultaneously.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: Dorothea and Celia are sisters in the book, while in the series Dot and Celia are just roommates.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Dot thinks this has happened near the end of the series, when she walks in on Rosy confessing her feelings to Billie and assumes that Billie reciprocates. Subverted, though, because Billie is still in love with Dot and just didn't get the chance to explain at the time.
  • Verbal Tic: Jamie says "Exactly!" a lot.
  • What Does She See in Him?: None of Dot's friends can understand why she's dating Casaubon.