Stevie Nicks encountered the ire of classic literature fans over the weekend when she compared Twilight to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights at the Breaking Dawn Part 2 movie premiere: “It’s a huge love story. It’s like Wuthering Heights, it’s that kind of story. It’s like Jane Eyre … It’s a totally timeless kind of story that we can relate to.” Bronte-ites were like, “How dare you, madam!” While Shakespeare-ites were like, “Oh, good. Y’all holler for a little while. Our throats are sore from defending Romeo and Juliet all these years.”
But when you think about it, Stevie Nicks really does have a point. Jane Eyre was kind of a helpless waif of a thing who fell in love with a dark, sometimes-sinister older guy who kept being like, “Love me! No, don’t love me! Yes, love me!” for 600 pages while a petulant, scorned teenage suitor pouted and moaned. And, as for Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte and Stephenie Meyer have in common that neither seems to have a command of point of view. Who is telling these stories? Who knows!
Stevie got us thinking about what other modern-day stories could be juxtaposed to classic literature, so we measured some of AfterEllen-ers’ favorite TV shows against Austen and Salinger and Atwood and Dahl — and here’s what we discovered.
A sporty, insecure teenager (Mrs. de Winter/Paige McCullers) falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful-est, kindest, sweetest fella (Maxim de Winter/Emily Fields), but has a terrible time settling into her relationship because of the way they are constantly haunted by the ghost of past lovers (Rebecca/Alison) and the insane lesbian (Mrs. Danvers/Mona Vanderwaal) stomping around town in a jealous huff pretending not to be insane/a lesbian, and setting shit on fire.
Glee is George Orwell’s 1984
Characters are ruled by Big Brother, whose cult of personality leads him/it to believe himself/itself a legitimate god. The past is constantly rewritten so it always supports the current ideas/desires of Big Brother. People are vaporized, they “simply disappear, always in the night. Your name [is] removed from the registers, every record of everything you [have] ever done [is] wiped out, your one-time existence [is] denied and then forgotten.” RIP Quinn Fabray.
Grey’s Anatomy is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
A gaggle of well-educated, attractive young folks spend half their lives trying to elect a chief and the other half of their lives bitching at each other. Corpses teach valuable lessons, cadavers are mistaken for monsters, planes crash, and people die — sometimes at the hands of their friends. If the magical conch is a metaphor for sex, the analogy is complete.
The L Word is Roald Dahl’s The Twits
In one, the mean-spirited main characters lose their minds after cavorting too long with monkeys. In the other, the mean-spirited main character loses her mind after cavorting too long with manatees. The result is the same: The mean-spirited main character(s) make everyone’s life a living hell. One Twit puts her glass eyeball in a beer as a joke. Another Twit puts worms in spaghetti as a joke. Another Twit euthanizes a dog as a joke. Eventually, all Twits die under the weight of their own horribleness.
Skins is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet is the Emily Fitch of Longbourn. Mr. Darcy is the Naomi Campbell of Derbyshire. Lizzy is loved fiercely by her overwrought mother, her silly father, and her gorgeous sister. Despite the warnings of everyone around her and also her own good sense, she falls in love with the detached, haughty Mr. Darcy, who hates injustice and also, people tell lies about him. Their tempestuous courtship is rife with longing looks and misunderstandings, until the final love confession from Darcy:
I’ve loved you from the first time I saw you; I think I was 28. It took me three country balls to pluck up the courage to ask you to dance. I was so scared of how I felt, you know, loving a pauper that I became an aloof jackass to make me feel normal. I danced with rich people to try to make it go away, but it didn’t work. When we ran into each other at Pemberly, it scared the shit out of me, because you were the one person who could ruin my life. I pushed you away. I made you think things were your fault. But really, I was just terrified of pain. I laughed with that girl, Caroline Bingley, to kind of spite you for having that hold over me, and I’m a total fucking coward because I bought this … this commission for Wickham months ago. But I couldn’t stand — I didn’t want to be a slave to the way I feel about you. Can you understand? You were trying to punish me back and it’s horrible. It’s horrible because, really, I’d die for you. I love you. I love you so much, and it’s killing me.
Do you have any other classic literature vs. lesbian TV comparisons? Lip Service as Catcher in the Rye? Once Upon a Time as Gone with the Wind? Rizzoli & Isles as A Knight’s Tale? (You know Jane Rizzoli has the longest jousting stick.)