I don’t know about you all (wait—yes, I actually do), but the phenomenon that was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series/transmedia experience was a revelation—what a great new platform for telling stories! What a cool, empty landscape just waiting to be filled with newly vibrant adaptations and newly NEW original work! And while few projects have risen to the the success and visibility of LBD, some great content HAS started to fill that space, and it is clear that transmedia storytelling is only getting better and more diverse.
Case in point? My newest web series obsessions: Nothing Much to Do (a Much Ado About Nothing adaptation completed in 2014) and its sequel, Lovely Little Losers (a *loose* Love’s Labour’s Lost adaptation which has JUST STARTED).
My friend and fellow FYADC book clubber Melissa and I are watching and discussing the series over on our tv tumblr, but real talk, FYA friends? LLL (or, #LoLiLo, as the creators have hashtag dubbed it) is a series best discussed with EVERYONE. So here we are, hoping to convert ALL Y’ALL to the Candle Wasters fandom.
1. The Background & the Production
So first we need to talk about the precursor to Lovely Little Losers—the Much Ado About Nothing adaptation from last year, Nothing Much To Do. Lovely Little Losers features many of the same characters, now moved to University, and was produced by the same INSULTINGLY YOUNG and uber-talented all-female creative team that is The Candle Wasters. I got turned on to the series first, I recall, after seeing some gifsets on the We Love Web Series tumblr (long after the series had concluded), and forced it on you over pizza one weekend when I happened, randomly, to be in your neighborhood. But then you beat me to the series’ conclusion, bingeing it all over the course of what—two nights? Three?
Two nights. I think you left my house after episode eight? Ten? Either way, I ended up watching through episode 50 that night. And then finished it up the next day. It helps that I’m pretty obsessed with Much Ado About Nothing. I love all versions of it; it’s one of my favorite stories to watch and rewatch. Nothing Much to Do definitely falls in that category. I was addicted to it that first night, which is why I powered through the rest of the episodes in just a few days.
Yes! It is definitely addicting. Which, one, hooray! But two…now we’re stuck watching Lovely Little Losers in real time, and that will probably be torture.
Binge watching has ruined me. But I’m gaining more experience with waiting things out, thanks to Teen Wolf. So like, maybe I can manage this. (Probably not.)
One of the things that really endeared me to the series was how natural all the performances and production values seemed. I don’t watch a lot of “real” vloggers, but I do have enough YouTube time under my belt to be able to quickly tell the difference between real (young) people like charlieissocoollike and itsamemyleo and emilyisbrave and Bryarly Bishop vlogging, even if they are often doing so half-scripted, and the fully scripted and performed vlogs of web series like LBD and Emma Approved and Carmilla.
Real vlogger emilyisbrave’s intro, for example, is almost mirrored by Beatrice’s NMTD intro:
BONUS POINTS for off-screen gender balancing AND added LGBT represention with “the aunties” (Hero’s mums)
…but both are completely blown out of the water by Emma Approved’s *highly polished* Pemberly Digital intro:
Nothing Much To Do—and now Lovely Little Losers, too—feels much, much more the like they belong in the “real vlogger” category than most other web series. The performances definitely *can* feel awkward and forced, but in the way that IRL teenagers putting themselves in front of a camera (hoping) for (some of) the whole internet to see DO feel awkward and forced. None of the monologues or repartee ever once has felt to me like scene reading from Drama 102. Which cannot be said about LBD or Emma or Carmilla (etc., etc.), as enjoyable as all those shows are.
2. The Cast & The Adaptation/Modernisation
The casting was spot-on for every single character, at least with the main five. And Verges and Dogberry. They’re so strange. I love them.
No joke—Alexis knew these very types of kids ALL TOO WELL in junior high. <333
That’s probably one of my favorite things about this series—the cast made everything feel so natural. While other web series have done a good job with casting (see MKW and Laura Spencer for LBD), and some have done a not-so-good job (sorry, March Family Letters—it wasn’t great), NMTD blew it out of the water with their casting, and in ways I wouldn’t have expected. Benedick is generally cast as an attractive, charming douchebag. In NMTD, Benedick is a lanky geek who has a whole lot more bravado rather than actual confidence. But it really worked. His most genuine episodes are when he’s filming in the various bathtubs in his life, allowing viewers to see how upset he really is by Beatrice making fun of him, which is not something I ever thought I would see in an adaptation of this story.
And BEATRICE. I love her. She’s a character that can easily skew angry if you aren’t willing to pay attention to her, and as a teenager especially, it wouldn’t have been hard for the character to alienate people (because #patriarchy). But she doesn’t, because she’s so authentically believable. Her anger is justifiable at times, and when it’s not, it’s more like humans can be irrational, and not “girls being crazy.”
And that gets pack to the point you were making, Alexis. I didn’t feel like I was watching something scripted—I felt like I was watching a real group of teenagers. The format of the series also helps with that. There were videos posted from multiple accounts, each with a different feel. It gave it a more authentic vibe—of course Benedick would post monologuing videos, trying to convince Claudio that dating girls is a hassle (like most other teenage boys who are afraid of losing their friends to a girl). Hero would TOTALLY be the one to post makeup tutorials. When Hero grows up she might start running a lifestyle Instagram account. I really like that they tried to emulate the popular types of videos that teenagers would commonly watch, both as characters within the series, and producers of the series.
Yes! Exactly. And Lovely Little Losers keeps that same feeling of what-passes-for-natural-in-real-vlogging awkwardness, just, with a more polished concept and production—which is doubly natural, as The Candle Wasters had more experience and money (Ed. note: they created a Kickstarter for LLL) to up their game this time around, and the characters within the web series universe have moved on to University and have also grown in both their ease with being on camera and funds/connections to make a better product. It feels exactly like when any of those IRL vloggers listed about moved up to new equipment or into new, more adult digs.
Which, I guess, brings us to Lovely Little Losers Episode 1: RETURNS!
Lovely Little Losers
[Some SPOILERS, obviously, for NMTD/a five-hundred year old play below the video]
NB: I (Alexis) think parallels are definitely meant to be drawn between Ben and specifically charlieissocoollike, from the many references to Englishness down to the Troy & Abed mug featuring prominently in the establishing shot.
Nope. I definitely didn’t just joyously wave my arms in the hotel lobby where I am watching this video. Or squeal. Not me at all. I just love BEN! And LOOK AT THAT DALEK POSTER behind him.
YES. I was as surprised as you at the visceral feeling of glee I felt seeing Ben back on my screen. You know well how naturally stoic I am (sorry/notsorry); very few things bring that kind of physical reaction out in me.
That makes me so happy to hear. My general enthusiasm for life must be rubbing off on you. It is an interesting theme song…clearly a dude focused show. Also—Benedick Hobbes. is that a reference to something?
I just assumed Hobbes was a reference to the philosopher (Ben so would) if it was a reference to anything. But if you want something that references Benedick Hobbes himself, how about this Adagio Tea fan blend?
Some people may accuse you of being a walking stereotype. But seriously who does not love tea? If you say you don’t the Queen will scissor kick you in the face. So you cannot go wrong with a classic cup of Earl Grey tea. Also, based on a scientific study mango skins can help prevent cancer! So why not add some of that? Well ‘cause someone told you of the terrible side effects…well you’ll just have to settle for mango pieces. So brew a whole pot of this as you wallow in your bathtub of emotion and think of birds. Not of debates, olives, or princesses…
And I like the intro! And how cleverly they passed off making a legit title sequence that is simultaneously theirs for the fictional show Lovely Little Losers AND Ben’s for the Sociology project “Lovely Little Losers.” Another proof of how NMTD and LLL have managed to find a way to nestle into this cool space between real and fictional vlogging that many other web series have not.
Yes! The Sociology project. Nice excuse. Also, I like Ben asking his roommates for their consent to be on camera! It’s clear that they’re not new to technology or living in a void where these things are clearly happening, but allowing them to run away from the consequences.
Yes, very sharp. Something the first series sorely lacked. Although, even that lack was keeping in character with how high schoolers would approach the situation, as opposed to how University students newly dunked in the river of Academic Ethics would approach it! Ah, good job, insultingly young and talented Candle Wasters squad.
Anyway, the ep. What are your feelings on the new living situation in general?
Pretty positive, actually. I mean, I wasn’t living in a group house my freshman year of college, but then again, that was Georgia and not Australia. But I think it could be a lot of fun to watch the group dynamics in what is undoubtedly an intense situation during a very impactful time in your life. Admittedly, I was about to get so angry at this girl who isn’t Beatrice (sorry, everyone. I’m such a shipper)! But never mind. I like her! She’s so awkward. And PEDRO. I LOVE YOU. But wait…are Balthazar and Pedro not together? Balthyyyyyyy.
Yes that was V INTENSE AND DISORIENTING. Both the misdirect that insinuated Ben and Not-Beatrice were romantically involved, and the completely blatant, no-misdirect-here explosion of Pedro onto the screen hooked to the lips of another dude. DRAMZ.
Here, as a balm to your shipper’s heart, enjoy this summery Christmas Pedrozar duet:
A billion heart eye emojis is the only appropriate response to that. And also making it my ring tone.
You’re welcome. Okay—so what are you thinking about LLL so far? Excited? Anxious? Hungry?
I mean first, WHERE IS BEATRICE?? But yes, I’m excited to watch LLL. Probably for some of the reasons that you mentioned, but also because of the story. I didn’t realize how much I had missed NMTD until Ben appeared on my screen in the first ep of LLL. But I also don’t know the story of Love’s Labour’s Lost, so watching this will be different from watching NMTD (or even LBD). I can see myself reacting to this more in regards to the content and the characters, rather than how a story is portrayed, which is generally how I watch other web series. I’m very excited about this! These are characters that I love, and I’ve already had a very visceral reaction to the first six minutes of their time at University.
I’m also thrilled there’s another girl in the cast, especially because the intro seemed very dude-like, and only Pedro and Balthy (:D) were featured in any lead up. And it could be very cool watching these characters grow up, transition from high schoolers to college students and figure out at least the next few years of their life (even if it means that my ships are going to be in tatters, just like my emotions by the end). Also ++ goes to featuring at least two LGBT characters.
Agree to all the above, and up the excitement x3 because LLL will be releasing on a three/week schedule! Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays. The new best days of the week.
So what do y’all think? If you were already a fan of NMTD, are you as excited for Lovely Little Losers as we are? If you *weren’t* already a fan, are you ready to get on board? Because us + The Candle Wasters? THE SHIP THAT WON’T SINK.
Talk to us below! We want to know what you think!
Lovely Little Losers is new every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday (Kiwi time). We will be posting weekly discussion recaps on Poptics on Fridays, and WE HOPE here on FYA, too, to chat with all of you. Episode 2 & Episode 3 are up now—and spoilers: Ben is back in the bath!
This discussion originally appeared on Poptics. It has been reprinted and (slightly) reformatted here with permission.
About the Contributor:
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. A Wyoming expat, she now lives in Maryland, where she runs the DC chapter of the FYA Book Club. She can be found talking about Teen TV on Twitter, and her longform criticism can be found on Authory.