Tag Archives: Emma Approved

Yes, there’s an ‘Emma’ for that

Clockwise from top left: Romola Garai (“Emma,” 2009), Gwyneth Paltrow (“Emma,” 1996), Alicia Silverstone (“Clueless,” 1995), Kate Beckinsale (“Emma,” TV, 1996); Doran Godwin (“Emma,” 1972), Joanna Sotomura (“Emma Approved,” 2013).

By Jennifer Abella

Jane Austen might have written a heroine that readers may not much like, but Emma has been brought to life on screens big and small numerous times and in numerous eras. These adaptations can fit any mood and personality. Read on to see which might fit you best.

If you want to see a “darker” side of Highbury…

“Emma” (1996 TV movie)
This adaptation (written by Andrew Davies) isn’t all sweetness and light. It highlights the working class, with pointed glimpses of kitchen maids clearing plates; footmen hauling food and tables up Box Hill; Knightley’s tenants — including Robert Martin — working the fields; and ragged young beggars accosting Harriet on the path. Plus, if you love candlelit scenes, dark-wood sets and dark brown dresses, well, this is the production for you. But watch out for this Emma: Kate Beckinsale plays up her haughty side — she’s a little more mean girl than golden girl. She is not afraid to tell it to you straight.

If you like fashion statements …

“Clueless” (1995)
Plaid? Check. Sailor dresses? Check. Structured jackets? Check. If your fashion philosophy is “go bold or go home,” “Clueless” is your best bet. The film may be 20 years old, but the costumes are still inspiring fashionistas today. And if you grew up in the ‘90s, phrases like “As if!” and “Whatever!” are still part of your lexicon. Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz is a lovable modern Emma, with her heart in the right place even if her plans don’t always work out. She’d make a terrible study partner, but a fantastic shopping buddy … just don’t let her drive you anywhere.

If you love Martha Stewart …

“Emma” (1996 feature film)
This film is like Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair: perfectly coiffed, no strand out of the place. Cool, (mostly) calm and sophisticated, this adaptation has a sheen of Hollywood glamour. Who wouldn’t want to live in this version of Highbury? Like Emma, the film strives for perfection; it may occasionally fail, but we love it anyway.  Paltrow’s heroine is full of helpful hints about love and marriage and even how to embroider. If she ran the Internet, she’d start a lifestyle site like … well … Goop.

If you need cheering up …

“Emma” (2009)
emma-5Stubborn, exuberant and fun. Did I just describe this adaptation or Emma herself? Actually, it’s both. The life of any party, Romola Garai’s Emma could befriend anyone (even if she doesn’t like them), so she’s sure lift your spirits — if you get on her good side, that is. This lively Emma might stop you from marrying that cute farmer down the way, but she can also lift your spirits. It’ll take some time, though: At four hours in length, this adaptation deserves a full lazy afternoon of viewing.

If you’re a Harriet fan …

“Emma” (1972)
Ignore the low-budget production values, the stagey sets and the dated “welcome to the Regency 1970s” look. You can’t help but love this adaptation’s chipper, charming, slightly dim and sweetly indecisive Harriet, played by Debbie Bowen, far left in a striking turquoise bonnet. Doran Godwin brings Emma to prim and proper life, but it’s Harriet who steals the show. You just want to pull an Emma yourself and tell her: Harriet, honey, don’t listen to Emma. Listen to me. (Word the wise: You can find this miniseries here.)


 If you have a short attention span …

“Emma Approved” (2013)
Don’t have two hours or an afternoon to spare? This Web series (which we recapped!) is perfect if you have five minutes here, 10 minutes there. This 21st-century Emma (Joanna Sotomura) is a business-savvy version of Cher Horowitz: a self-centered fashionista who thinks she knows what’s best for everyone — except herself. Betcha can’t watch just one episode though. It can be thoroughly addicting.


If you love social media …

“Emma Approved” (2013)

benefitIn this day and age, it’s hard to go a day without hearing a reference to something someone saw on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. “Emma Approved” allows viewers to experience the story through characters’ social media feeds and blogs.



If you need a Knightley fix …

“Emma Approved,” “Emma” (2009), “Emma” (1996 film)

PhotoGrid_1427337164232This one is a hard choice! If you’re looking for an earnest Knightley, Jeremy Northam’s iteration (1996) is sweet and big brotherly without veering into avuncular territory. Jonny Lee Miller’s 2009 version is a bit tougher, less earnest and more pragmatic with a touch of humor.  Brent Bailey from “Emma Approved” plays down the “Knightley knows best” attitude in favor of treating Emma more as an equal.



Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow @nextjen on Twitter. And remember to like Jane Austen Summer Program on Facebook and follow @JASPhotline on Twitter.


Emma Approved, Episodes 68-72: FINALLY


By Jennifer Abella

Previously on “Emma Approved” … Emma was in a Very. Bad. Place.

Episode 68 (The Boy Is Mine): Emma feels awful she has to break Harriet’s heart again by breaking the news about Frank and Jane. Harriet’s like: No big deal, it’s cool. Emma is surprised —  but Harriet is more surprised that Emma even thought Harriet was in love with Frank. Harriet says she needs someone less intimidating … like the guy who saved her from embarrassment at the Elton engagement party. Who was Alex. RUHROH. Harriet says she’s pretty sure Alex returns her feelings. I like the body language here, with Emma physically drawing away from Harriet. Emma says maybe he’s just being nice and it’s Harriet’s turn to get mad at Emma. Turns out Alex asked if Harriet was seeing anyone right now. WHAAAT. Which is what Emma is thinking too. Harriet takes the high road and hopes Emma will be happy if Harriet and Alex work out. Alone again, Emma’s freaking out, saying she can’t believe it. She can’t see him with anyone, well, anyone except …  oh hello lightbulb, my name is EMMA. And just like that Emma realizes what we’ve all be pushing for since time immemorial.

Episode 69 (Strange Days): Emma is desperate to avoid Harriet. So desperate she calls in B-Mart as a diversion. YAY, Bobby! He and his floppy hair fix Emma’s computer in a jiffy. He goes to check Harriet’s computer “unawkardly” since she’s out but things indeed get awkward (although cutely so) when she returns. She asks him to lunch, but he demurs. Emma apologizes to Harriet about Alex and Bobby and generally ordering Harriet around, even though it kills her to say it, she says she will accept Alex and Harriet together if they happen. Alone with the camera, Emma comes to a tearful conclusion: She’s in love with Alex. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Just as she finishes saying that and moves on to other things (she’s going to start paying attention to people around her), Alex — yes Alex — comes through the door, unbeknownst to Emma and walks right back out. WAIT WHY DID YOU WALK AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY, ALEX? WHY?

Episode 70 (At Last): Emma is being a responsible adult and doing hourly consultations again even though she hates them. Alex walks through the door and she immediately hugs him. She’s in tears. He says he came down because he knew the Frank and Jane news would upset Emma. I love that as wrong as she was about everything — Harriet/James, Frank/Jane, etc. — Alex is wrong in this case, when it matters the most. Everybody’s blind. She says she was never in love with Frank, which makes Alex so happy. He apologizes for the way he left, adding that didn’t make sense for him to leave when … there was someone in the office he cared about so much and he was miserable being away from her. (AWWWWW) Thinking immediately of Harriet, Emma plays it chipper and quickly changes the subject. Clearly disappointed, he mopes out of the office. Emma knows he wanted to tell her about him and Harriet, and she’s determined to be professional about it. So she goes to his office to face the music “as his friend,” she says. He asks if that’s what she wants. He realizes she has no idea what he’s talking about. He gets up and brings back flowers for Emma. She realizes: Flowers are romantic. He confesses he’s in love with her: If I loved you less, I could talk about it more. querioregfsdngmk;byt. Oh sorry I couldn’t see the keyboard through my HAPPY TEARS. Emma asks him about the business and their families and their friendship. And then they kiss and I just literally can’t right now.  HUZZAHHHHHH. She declares their kiss “very Emma Approved.” I concur. But then he asks what she was so worried about before. And it takes her a second to remember. HARRIET. Oopsie. 

Episode 71 (A Little Less Conversation): Now that we’ve got Alex and Emma settled, what to do about poor Harriet? Emma’s practicing her speech for Harriet when Alex comes in. He says she might not have to worry about it — and is interrupted by a very cheerful Frank, who’s there apologize to Emma. Frank even says Alex might not have made a move if Frank hadn’t come into the picture. Emma looks SO HAPPY, y’all. Frank fills us in on the Jane situation: She’s thinking about things and starting her own foundation. Frank explains why he sold his company: because Jane was angry his company had done something to hurt one of her causes. He’s obviously still in love with her. While Frank and Alex go off to have coffee, Emma breaks the news to Harriet about Emma and Alex. But Harriet already knows, and she’s taking it really well actually. Emma says she was wrong about everything and that Harriet she should do whatever feels right to her.

Episode 72 (After All): Here it is: the last episode. Harriet and Emma are affixing something to the ceiling of Harriet’s office — they’ve got some scheme cooked up, it seems. Aww, and Harriet is wearing a lovely dress with birds printed on it — nice costuming choice. Harriet startles when Bobby enters. Turns out somethings “wrong with her computer.” He can’t find anything, though, and gets up to leave; she panics to get him to stay. He’s looking at her like a http---makeagif.com--media-1-01-2015-bPDf0dcrazy person. Then she asks him for a second chance to go on his quest (the cranes, remember?). He’s surprised and happy. She asks him: If you got your wish after fulfilling your quest what would you wish for? AND THEN HE KISSES HER. Gooooo, Bobby! And suddenly a thousand paper cranes fall from the ceiling. [Side note: Many of the cranes were made by “Emma Approved” fans at an online-video convention.]  Meanwhile, Alex has to hold Emma back from going to Harriet’s office to peek. Alex asks if she’s told her father about her and Alex yet? He says he’d be willing to leave the business if that’s what Mr. Woodhouse wants. He’d rather he be her partner in life than in business if necessary. Harriet comes in to take off with Bobby. And it’s all YOU get a happy ending! And YOU get a happy ending!

At the end of the last video, Harriet discovers footage of Jane and Frank, so if you watch more videos, I recommend theirs, which show their interactions at her desk.

Final thoughts: Overall, “Emma Approved” really grew on me over time, even if it took me a while to love it. I wish we had seen Mr. Woodhouse, and the Isabella arc seemed like filler, but I thought the modernization of the novel (the workplace setting, the Boxx restaurant opening, etc.) worked well.


Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow @nextjen on Twitter. And remember to like Jane Austen Summer Program on Facebook and follow @JASPhotline on Twitter.

Emma Approved, Episodes 62-67: Badly done, Emma

By Jennifer Abella

Previously on “Emma Approved” … Emma was in over her head.

Ummm, what is going on here?

Episode 62 (Baby Bump): The baby shower is in full swing and … Em is in her office, missing all of it. Because she’s putting out fires left and right for Boxx. Jane is trying to cut out of the shower early to avoid Mrs. Elton, who’s trying to find Jane a job, a man and the perfect purse. Emma self righteously tells her some people just can’t stay out of other people’s business. (Pot: “So. We meet again, Kettle.”) Emma sends Jane out to do recon on a club that’s trying to out-Boxx Boxx by opening on the same date. She’s so stressed out not even Alex can coax her out of crisis mode and back to the party. Annie is honing her mama skills by giving Emma a HUGE guilt trip about not being at the party. And it works: Emma realizes she’s a bad friend sometimes. Well … we all kind of knew that, Em.

Episode 63 (Mood Swings):  Emma is still feeling bad about the shower but excited for the Boxx opening. Alex interrupts a very friendly Frank and Emma to give Emma a few of the jams that Maddy will hand out at the Boxx opening later. Frank asks Emma — officially — to find him a date for the opening. Emma knowingly looks at the camera (someone’s thinking of herself). She flirtily gets Frank to taste a bit of jam from her finger (uh, okay). Meanwhile, Alex sees the whole thing from the doorway  and slinks away silently. AWWWW. Unrequited love. It’s not pretty.

Later, off camera, a party photographer catches Emma behaving … wait for it … badly at the Boxx opening. Check out Maddy’s face in the GIF below. [To see more photos, go here; click on “exclusive photos” and use the password “boxxhill”]

http---makeagif.com--media-12-31-2014-WwZ49ISo. The day after …

Alex brings Emma to tears.

Episode 64 (Boxx Hill): Emma is thrilled: The Boxx opening got rave reviews, but she can’t figure out why everyone was so “on edge” at the party. But she’s all whatever, let’s move on. But before she can, Jane stalks into Emma’s office, saying she ignored her better instincts when she came to work with Emma. Jane says Emma made her feel like a fool, that Emma isn’t serious about her causes. Ruh … roh. Emma has no clue what’s going on, but it doesn’t matter because Jane quits. abruptly putting a lid on her anger to keep things professional. And just when you think it can’t get more tense, it’s Alex’s turn to confront Emma, saying she dissed Maddy in a big way at the party. Turns out she said Maddy’s jams were disgusting in front of everyone. Awww, EMMA! Emma claims she was just trying to save Maddy’s company, but Alex calls BS. Like literally. You know things must serious if he’s cursing. Badly. Done. Emma. Which is also what he says. And then he walks out on Emma, too! In tears, she chases after him, as do I (come baaaaack, Alex!). Harriet comforts a the dejected mess that is Emma now.

Episode 65 (Big Girls Don’t Cry ): Today the part of Emma Woodhouse is played by Harriet Smith. Or at least Harriet’s trying to. She’s got her hands full manning the phone in an empty office while Emma is listening to sad music, eating ice cream and generally wallowing in self-pity. I bet it’s organic vegan ice cream. The Boxx event generated tons of interest from potential clients, but Emma doesn’t care. Even an motivating Austen quote from Harriet can’t get Emma out of her funk: She realizes she doesn’t want to be in this business without Alex. So Harriet tells Emma about a new client: Who’s sad. And sitting beside her in sweatpants. And wearing a scrunchie. That gets Emma moving. Aww, I love that Harriet is the one asking Emma for a “Hell yes” now and not the other way around. You go, Harriet. Rockin’ the good-friend look.

emmacrying Episode 66 (All Apologies): Emma is ready to make amends to pretty much everyone. Maddy’s come to help with the business stuff, and she doesn’t look happy to be there. But Emma kicks things off with an apology she’s prepared. Maddy — as always — has kind words for Emma and forgives her, all easy-peasy. She even offers to help Emma with the books — free of charge — for two weeks. Wow, Maddy, you are too nice. But Emma is nice, too (no, REALLY), and insists she pay Maddy.

Episode 67 (Secret Lovers): Emma is ready for Step 2 of her comeback: apologizing to Annie. Annie says there are probably enough people mad at Emma right now. Which is true. Hugs, hugs, forgiven, forgiven. Then Annie tells Emma that Frank and Jane were dating. WERE. They met through the Dixons in London but later broke up. Jane kept it quite because she didn’t want to be known as “Frank Churchill’s girlfriend.” Turns out, he’s selling his company, and people were going to go digging as to why and so he spoke up about Jane to Ryan. That … was a vague reason to sell his company. Only Maddy knew about Frank and Jane. Annie apologizes for pushing Frank on Emma. But Emma is just fine, even though she was all flirty with Frank. Emma surmises that he sent Jane the computer and that Jane totally must’ve dumped him, not the other way around. Shoot, but then she realizes HARRIET was in love with Frank. I don’t see why they had to have Frank and Jane break up, but if his attitude is any indication, I can see why she left him.

Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow @nextjen on Twitter. And remember to like Jane Austen Summer Program on Facebook and follow @JASPhotline on Twitter.