Classic Alice is webseries that follows the exploits of young, ambitious college student, Alice Rackham, in her journey to experience real life through classic literature. The show’s instigating event takes place when classic type-A, straight-A Alice gets a B- on a paper from one of her English professors. Although he complements her on her technical analysis, he criticizes her inability to emotionally connect with the characters. This prompts her to embark on a project that documents her somewhat kooky attempts to viscerally experience life as a variety of classic fictional characters, by placing herself in situations vaguely analogous to theirs.
Best friend and love-interest Andrew Prichard, who is using this project as his film-student senior thesis, aids (and sometimes unduly interferes) heavily in the enterprise. He is the typical well-intentioned, but kinda clueless dude, who wants to help but does not always know the best way in which to do so. Their love-story is, in many ways, a very conventional romantic comedy premise, and it plays out with a high degree of predictability. However, the series has a fair amount of self-awareness about this, and finds ways to meta-comment on it, particularly through roommate/best gal-pal Cara Graves, who in one of the series “confessional” out-takes, bemoans the two’s painfully unrequited attraction. If you’ve ever had an OTP of any sort – real-life or fictional – you can relate to her frustration on a deep and profound level.
(Seriously, click play. Even if you don’t end up watching the series, you’ll definitely get a few good reaction GIFs from it for your Tumblr shipping blog)
This charming series has many things to recommend it, foremost the writing, which is fresh, funny and has a pleasant naturalism to it that is aided by the cast’s down-to-earth acting style. Although Alice starts out very much as a “stock” character, she is quickly fleshed out far beyond the bounds of the cliché she could be. The truth is, everyone has known a girl like this before (and a few of us have been a girl like this before) and it is almost uncanny how well she is brought to life, both through the writing and through Kate Hackett’s superb portrayal. (She is also the creator/producer of the series, incidentally)
The show is also very much on the up-and-coming transmedia boat, with active Twitter accounts for its characters, podcasts, Tumblr content, Instagram accounts, the works. And like most webseries, it boasts a high degree of interactivity directly with viewers and fans through social media. One of the delights of being a viewer of this show is that it enables various degrees of investment and consumption. You can enjoy the story thoroughly just through the conventional episodes alone, but you can also add to the viewing experience by following the character’s social media accounts and watching the additional “confessional” videos, which are styled like the classic reality-TV confessional. (I do recommend them, they can be quite funny)
In some ways, the series itself feels like a mix between The Lizzy Bennett Diaries and Carmilla, and if you are/were a fan of either of those series, you will probably enjoy Classic Alice. The minimalism of the low-budget makes the puppet show a relied-upon expositional tool here on more than one occasion and provides some of the series’ best comedic moments.
It also really shines in episodes where they disrupt their standard narrative style and have, for example, a televised debate between college class president candidates (ep. 17). Seriously, watch that installment if for nothing else than the scrolling news banner on the bottom of the screen, which is full of particularly amusing ‘campus news’ updates.
Stolen ocelot mascot returned unharmed by janitor. “He needed to be cleaned” #OCELOTNAP
In sum, the series is not profound or groundbreaking, and the truth is, it really doesn’t need to be in order to be very entertaining. Classic Alice is the kind of show you put on after you’ve had a long hard day, and you need something that is light, funny and easy on the brain without being totally brainless. That is the niche this webseries has conquered and I say, may it reign there for many more seasons to come.
Having very recently concluded their first season, the series kicked off a crowd-funding campaign to sponsor their second season this past Tuesday. I highly recommend you check out the series and if you find yourself liking what you see, join in the fight to #SaveAlice, future Ocelittles of the world. Her series deserves a second chapter, indubitably.