How many of us have ever daydreamed of being transported to our favorite book, movie, or video game? Show of hands?
Of course, there’s only so much we can really do about this. Having grown up in the nineties and early aughts, I’m sure most of us were privy to reading a lot of really bad self-insert fanfiction. And we probably wrote some too. No shame. We’ve all done terrible things in our youth.
Anyway. This desire to slip into a favorite fabricated world is far from being a new concept. Countless movies and books have been published that do the very thing those fanfiction stories attempt. And I enjoy reading and seeing stories of well-written fangirls or boys being plunked into their dorkiest dreams. Here are some examples and some Youtube videos to match, should you wish to live vicariously through these fellow geeks.
Lost in Austen
This four-part series (fully available on Youtube, may I add) features, Amanda, who is a bit of an escapist and disdains the savagery of modern civilization. She longs for the elegant days of Jane Austen’s heroines. Well, lucky for her, there is a magical portal in her bathroom that forces her to trade places with one very real Elizabeth Bennet. Amanda reacts as any of us would. Checking her cellphone, trying to fit in (just wait til you see how she has to brush her teeth), and of course, swooning over Mr Darcy. Except… without Elizabeth, how can the events of Pride and Prejudice happen? How can Amanda’s favorite book of all time, her favorite romance, unfold as it should? Amanda becomes desperate to keep the novel on its track while she searches for a way back to her own time, and to bring Elizabeth back to hers.
In this quirky series spanning over fifty years, the Doctor and his companions travel through space and time, often running into very familiar figures. While they end up meeting real people (like Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, and Vincent Van Gogh), they often find themselves in situations that mirror the authors’ own works. Just take the episode, “The Unicorn and the Wasp,” for example. The Doctor and his companion Donna run into Agatha Christie, only to be pulled into a murder mystery that takes a turn for the paranormal. The Doctor and his friends gleefully geek out over meeting the authors as much as they pay any attention to the emergency at hand.
Once Upon A Time
This show, written by the creators of Lost, has a twist on our theme. Instead of a hero being dropped into another world, another world is dropped into ours. Thanks to a powerful curse, all of our beloved fairytale characters have been transported to the town of Storybrook, Maine, and all their memories of their true lives erased. Their happy endings have vanished. Emma, our reluctant heroine, is brought to the town by the son she gave up for adoption years ago. She is unwilling to believe the people in this town have anything odd about them. But not believing is a luxury she can’t afford for long, because the Evil Queen is the only one self-aware in Storybrook, and she is not going to tolerate Emma’s presence for very long.
In the alternate-universe of Thursday Next, a series by Jasper Fforde, literature plays a much more prominent role in society. People need to be regulated from all changing their names to those of famous authors, and Shakespearean quotations are the entertainment of the day. In this universe, the line between literature and reality blurs. The beloved literary characters from and the people in Thursday Next become able to jump in and out of novels, and change characters, events, and even endings. The series starts with The Eyre Affair, where our protagonist, Thursday Next, is a renowned Special Operative in literary detection. She’s forced to act when someone begins kidnapping characters from novels, including the very important Jane Eyre.
If you really want to go old-school, who can forget the series Wishbone? Talk about a self-insert, Wishbone is a bookish Jack Russell terrier who daydreams about being the hero of famous novels. This series was invented to entertain and educate children, but there’s something endearing about seeing a dog act out the stories of Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer, or Sherlock Holmes. He’ll forever be “the little dog with a big imagination” and I fondly remember watching him as a kid as he lived out all the classic stories.
So, if you could be in any book, which one would it be? Which literary world would you love to live in?
Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.