The internet is a place for fans, and for fans to share their fandoms with other fans. And as such, fan fiction and discussion have become as much a part of the fabric of entertainment on the internet as the content itself. This is a commentary and engagement supported medium, after all. There tends to be widely varied opinions on fan involvement and its effect on content. (You can even find some on this site.)
Adaptive and directly-inspired content helped to build webseries and the audience for them. Video games, sports, films, books – all have a certain place in the medium thanks to people talking about them, writing about them, making their own stories about them. And while motives and use of IP has and will be debated ad infinitum on the internet, the fact is that directly-inspired webseries functionally serve to promote a love of whatever inspired them as well as the space in which they’re received.
Which brings us to the importance of the literary webseries. It avoids the occasionally ugly IP debate by reimagining classic stories in the public domain. It also adapts the idea to a younger audience that may either not receive it, or would otherwise receive it as assignment rather than enjoyment. I think it’s important that kids connect with certain classic literature, but I also think it’s important that they like what they’re doing because of it. It’s why shows like Emma Approved and New Peter and Wendy are cornerstones of the webseries community’s content.
Or So The Story Goes is an anthology that ambitiously reimagines classic children’s tales like Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel & Gretel. Each season puts an unsettling twist on one of these stories, often reversing certain perspectives and character dispositions to a fascinating effect.
Rosemary’s a bit off. “Kinda weird,” “A freak of nature,” she only really wants to be liked by sullen goth girl Hazel and her friends Seana and Matty. But after her 3 would-be amigos play a cruel prank on her, she becomes directly cold towards them, Hazel in particular. She also becomes even stranger. She starts eating ravenously and seeing signals on her ankle that make her eyes glow. When a former tormentor disappears, Hazel becomes determined to discover why these things keep happening, and why Rosie seems to be involved.
Revisiting reversed rationale in children’s classics, in Happy Thoughts we meet Peter Pan as a charming, svengali-esque teenager with the worst of motives. And the Darling family just so happens to have the misfortune of moving into the house to which Peter has a particular attachment, one deeper than just his uncomfortable interest in their daughter Wendy. When things get too intense for the Darlings, an unlikely band of heroes called the Jolly Rogers are called to investigate. And what they find goes far beyond Peter himself.
The Jolly Rogers Case Files
The Jolly Rogers are back with their own series! Jane Hook is the commanding and demanding leader and she’s dead set on finding the child kid who destroyed her life (guess who?). Their cases range from strange to musical to downright adorable in a warm and charming update that places Captain Hook’s pirates as good-guy ghost hunters in the age of docu-style TV and accessibility on the web.
Or So the Story Goes takes an earnest look at the characters in these stories. The reversal and distortion of character disposition has a humanizing effect on the characters themselves. Peter Pan is downright wicked. Gretel is an outright narcissist. Hazel is probably right to be wary of Rosie. And the unified mentality of the Jolly Rogers places them as the obvious heroes during socialism’s current revival.
The most important aspect of this is that we’re able to see the characters as actual people (or in some cases, shape-shifting animals or spirits with corporeal form), which perhaps makes it easier to apply the best of their themes to everyday life. As somebody with no kids, I think that seems like it’d be pretty important to include in something intended for them.
For the interest and fandom of this literature to continue, it’s important that the discussion take new form. That can’t happen if no one dares to make a different observation, and the twists taken by Or So the Story Goes are a welcome refreshment of the conversation.
By Eli David