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Web Video / The March Family Letters

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The fifth project by Pemberley Digital updating a classic novel as a modern day vlog series (though they're only distributing this one rather than making it themselves). This time the subject is Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.

Sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March are facing a year separated from their beloved mother, "Marmee," and decide to keep in touch by sending up weekly video updates on their lives, plus another one from a single sister each week. They never expected anyone else to become interested in their little family project, but after seeing the viewing numbers they're quite game to talk to the fans about their family and their various life experiences.

The first episode premiered on December 25th, 2014, though there was a "prologue" video out already in March, which features Jo (played by a different actor), Amy and Meg.

The series' homepage can be found here. It finished after 50 episodes in June 2015.

The March Family Letters provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jo, here an aspiring filmmaker rather than a writer, hopes her use of them will get her big break.
  • Action Mom: Marmee is in the Special Forces.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: With John Brooke becoming Joan Brooke, this trope was heavily implied for Meg from early on, and finally confirmed in episode #41, where Meg finally confesses both to Joan and the audience that she's in love with her.
    • It's foreshadowed in episode #39, which is also the final part of the "Witch's Curse" story, in which Roderigo (played by Jo) and Princess Zara (played by Meg) are to be wed, with the blessing of the king (played by Laurie) but Roderigo has qualms, possibly based on Jo's real-life experiences, starts to make all sorts of excuses for why the marriage is a bad idea, and then finally:
    Jo: Well, I... I'm a woman!!
    *Meg and Laurie gasp theatrically... then Meg blinks, looking a little offended*
    Jo: *suddenly breaks character* Oh, I — I didn't mean —
    Meg: No, no, I know —
    Laurie: *tries to keep the play going* Well, nobody's perfect —
    Jo: I don't have a problem with —
    Laurie: — as they say in one of my favorite classic fil— um, operatic comedies, "Some Liketh it Hot." *to Meg* My daughter — surely you are the type to love someone for who and not what they are.
    Meg: *begins to smile* But of course.
  • All There in the Manual: There's a lot of extra information on the various social media sites connected to the show. The March sisters are all on both Twitter and Tumblr, and Laurie and Marmee are on Twitter. Joan, however, is not on any social media sites, because, according to the character page on series' official homepage, "Joan has never been one for Social Media and prefers to talk to people in person."
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In the "The Witch's Curse" videos, we get a few examples of different types:
    • Jo, playing both the villain, "Hugo the Magnificently Manly" and the romantic lead Roderigo, speaks in an over-dramatic voice and partakes in quite a bit of Chewing the Scenery.
    • Amy, as Hagar the witch, switches between overacting and breaking character to complain about the dialogue or the way her character is presented.
    • Meg, as Princess Zara, speaks in a stilted way and completely fails to emote beyond some extremely flourishing hand gestures.
    • Beth, taking over for Amy as Hagar the Witch in the fourth installment, radiates nervousness, mumbling and stuttering her lines.
    • Laurie, as the king, engages Jo in some magnificent Ham-to-Ham Combat in the scenes they share together.
  • Canada, Eh?: A few American fans were a little surprised when Amy mentioned that Marmie was serving in the Canadian army in her video.
  • Christmas Episode: The very first episode, which was uploaded on Christmas Day.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Jo and Meg, though Meg is more Deadpan and Jo is more Snarker.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Amy has a tendency to act without thinking of the consequences, which usually lands her in trouble. The most spectacular instances of this happen during the "hard drive debacle," where she first destroys Jo's hard drive as an act of petty revenge, then gets a My God, What Have I Done? moment and finally tries to make things up to Jo by finding and recreating the "perfect shot" that was on the hard drive... by going out in the forest to look for the correct spot without any real idea where to find it, or even wearing clothes that are warm enough for the time of year.
  • Disappeared Dad: Unlike the original, Mr. March died shortly after Amy was born.
  • Drama Queen: Amy can definitely be one, especially in the first half of the series. She gets better, though.
  • Drop-In Character: Joan, who has a habit of showing up in the middle of filming.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Set up with Meg, who discovers she got a tattoo during her night of wild and drunken partying. Subverted, though, in that when she discovers the tattoo, she likes it.
  • Genki Girl: Amy gives Lydia Bennett a run for her money, though where Lydia is a promiscuous Hard-Drinking Party Girl, Amy is more of a slightly prudish, but extremely perky and energetic, Granola Girl wannabe.
  • Gender Flip: Laurie's tutor, John Brooke, has become "Joan Brooke" in this adaptation. There still seems to be some sexual tension between her and Meg.
  • The Ghost: Marmee has yet to appear in any videos, though it's her the sisters most frequently address when they're talking to the camera.
  • Gilligan Cut: Happens in episode 20, "How to Handle a Blackout w/Meg March." There's a blackout, and Joan convinces Meg and Beth to make a "How to handle a blackout" video.
    Meg: Where do we start, Kumbaya around a pile of candles? (snorts and laughs)
    *cut to Meg, Joan and Beth sitting around a table filled with lit candles, Beth strumming her guitar*
    Meg (deadpan, directly to the camera): Tip number one on how to deal with a blackout: Kumbaya around a pile of candles.
  • Granola Girl: Amy really, really wants to be one, shunning anything and everything "mainstream" and spouting alternative ideological and political beliefs like a Soapbox Sadie, but much of it seems to be an act.
  • Heroic BSoD: Beth has an anxiety-induced one in episode 18. Faced with the prospect of going over to meet Laurie's grandfather for the first time, she paces around the hallway, beginning to hyperventilate and finally sitting down on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and crying.
  • Idiot Ball: Amy sets out in the middle of winter into the woods with no real plan on how she's going to find the tree that Jo took the perfect shot of. She, predictably gets lost and eventually prepares to freeze to death until Jo finds her.
  • Large Ham: Amy eats scenery like no one's business.
  • Malaproper: One of Amy's trademarks. She's constantly flaunting her large vocabulary to the point where she never uses the simplest/easiest words if she can at all help it, but quite often she's misunderstood what all the fancy words actually mean. This occasionally leads to some extremely awkward or even downright nonsensical phrases.
  • Mood Whiplash: Episode 41 is an adorably heartwarming episode where Meg confesses that she's in love with Joan and Joan reciprocates. Episode 42 has a distraught Meg and Amy announcing to the viewers that Beth has been hospitalized with a mysterious and serious illness
  • Nerd Glasses: Amy wears a pair — though they're fairly obviously fake and without lenses, and it's hinted from the start that she mainly wears them because they make her look more "artistic." From the first Q&A video, released before the series began proper:
    Amy: Rammi asks: "Are your glasses real?" ...What is "real," really? This video is just a reproduction of moving visual images that has been altered numerous times so that you may watch it. Is it real? Am I real? ...Rammi, are you real? But if you mean "do my glasses physically exist?" then — then yes, they most certainly do.
    • In episode 47, after some serious self-reflection brought on by Beth's illness, she discards the glasses and, with a somber speech about how she wants to define herself, breaks them in two.
  • Not So Above It All: Meg is serious and studious and often exasperated with the more clownish Jo and energetic Amy, but she has her moments of silliness.
  • Pungeon Master: Laurie really likes puns. Jo quite enjoys them too, but the rest of the March sisters do not share this enthusiasm for them.
  • The Quiet One: Beth is noticeably the least talkative when they're all together.
  • Race Lift: Laurie and Joan are black in this version.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Amy never uses a one-syllable word if there's a three-syllable synonym available. Whether or not it's the correct three-syllable synonym is a bit of a gamble at times.
    "My next selection is a fresh masterstroke entitled Ode to a Purloined Aluminous Hovel for Blistering Comestibles!"
  • Setting Update: From post-Civil War Massachusetts to 2014/2015 Canada.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Jo messes with Amy by doing this to make it look like she's swearing — much to Amy's frustration:
    "You wouldn't *BLEEP* dare! You know that would *BLEEP* ruin me! Whatever *BLEEP* is doing, don't *BLEEP* believe her! I AM *BLEEP* SWEARING!"
  • Shrinking Violet: Beth suffers from social anxiety; she doesn't like strangers, she takes a long time to warm up to the idea of being on camera, and at one point has a small breakdown at the prospect of meeting Laurie's grandfather for the first time. Though a talented musician and singer, she also seems to have a minor Performance Anxiety.
  • Sleep Cute:
    • Jo and Amy, in Episode #0, while they're on the couch and testing out Jo's new camera. In between scenes where they're bickering, annoying each other, or just clowning around, there's one scene where they're both asleep, with Amy's head in Jo's lap.
    • Meg and Joan, during their sleepover at "Camp Laurie" in episode #36, are sleeping close together on the floor, sharing a pillow.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. After Beth's anxiety breakdown, she mentions getting professional help for her social anxiety, and several videos later she brings the subject up again:
    "I've been getting help this past month, to manage my social anxiety, and I think that it's really working. I've even gone to the movies a couple of times. By myself. That was a new experience... that I'm not sure if I like, but at least I know I can do. I've been trying a lot of new things, slowly but surely."
  • The Watson: Jo creates Augustus Snodgrass, an extremely British man who asks all the questions she gets from the fans, the series' take on the Pickwick Papers club.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Meg, after her night of drunk partying with Sallie.