What do you do after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies? What should you watch next?
That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films or TV shows that Austen fans can enjoy.
This is a little different than my usual Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans as I really only recommend this one particular episode, rather than the complete series. And because it is just one episode of the series, I need to lay a little background.
Sweet Valley High was a book series I started reading in the fifth grade. As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to live in their idealic and exciting Californian world. As an adult I know they are not the best written book series. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make any sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama. The thing I really can’t get over is how “morally superior” Elizabeth acts even though at times she is worse than Jessica.
But I digress. The book series follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors in high school, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer; while Jessica is the fashionable, cheerleader, social butterfly, that dreams of parties and popularity.
They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first few books focused on the two girls and the people they interacted with, but the later ones were divided into two stories: story A about a friend or relative and story B on the twins. Starting at Book 95 the series became split up into mini arcs with 3-5 books following one particular storyline. Around Book 80 the series got a bit darker with the topics ranging from drugs, school dances, serial killers, sports competitions, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, a face/off face swapping resort, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff.
Because of their popularity the books were turned into a TV series in the ‘90s which sort-of-not-really followed the book series. As a fan it was fun to watch, although the stories weren’t always accurate, and it was my first introduction to Jensen Ackles.
This episode comes along in season three. Elizabeth developed a crush on her coworker at her internship at the Sweet Valley News, and dumps Todd (only to find out that the guy was a jerk). The two got back together, only to break up when Todd tries to make extra money accepting some pay-for-play in basketball. Meanwhile, Jessica was dating a rock musician, A.J. and advances his career by getting his music played on the radio which causes musicians to invite them to tour. A. J. wants Jessica to go with him but she declined as she doesn’t want to live her life focused only on him.
In this particular episode, story A focuses on Elizabeth and Todd. Elizabeth is helping her friend Enid get ready for her family reunion and accidentally admits over the student announcements that she is still into Todd. Todd tries to win her back, as he was already planning on it, but Elizabeth is not as open to it as she thinks he is only doing it to show off to everyone.
Story B is the one that I am interested in for this review. Jessica is still getting over A.J and has been spending all her time reading (something she never does for fun) her “new” favorite romantic book, The Silos of Billings, Montana.
The book is about a handsome photographer who is looking to photograph grain silos. Like every romance the photographer is the perfect man, and for once Jessica is not interested in dating any guys, as this fictional one is the only one she wants to see.
In the middle of a reread the doorbell rings and who should it be but a gorgeous photographer named Brad looking to photograph silos.
I always thought this was hilarious as Sweet Valley never seemed to be a farming community. I mean the Fowlers and Morrows has computer chip and computer factories; so it seems odd he’d be in Sweet Valley. I do forgive Jessica for not being logical in this as Brad is played by Jensen Ackles.
Yes, that amazingly handsome man not only stops on her doorstep, but also gets her phone number.
Later Jessica is upset that she hasn’t heard from Brad when Elizabeth tells her that a romantic note was left on their jeep inviting Jessica to a picnic. Jessica is over the moon to date Brad and who wouldn’t? Look at him.
Jessica is also doubly excited as it turns out this exact thing happened in her favorite book. Yes, her life has turned into her favorite novel.
The picnic is just as romantic as she dreamed it to be, wiht Brad serving all the romantic food that was eaten in the novel. Everything is perfect…
The next day Brad brings over the photos he took at the picnic and Jessica is disappointed that he didn’t develop them himself and that they turn out to be blurry. He also invites her out to a party. Typically good looks are all Jessica cares about, but she’s actually a little disappointed that Brad isn’t exactly like the novel.
The party turns out to be a big surprise as it is Enid’s family reunion. Enid has a lot of interesting cousins, one of which is Brad. Brad’s interesting characteristic is that when he reads a book he loves, he becomes the main character in the book, living his life just as they do. He had just finished reading The Silos of Billings Montana, loved it, and decided to be it.
Strangely Jessica is freaked out at the thought of dating Enid’s cousin, something true fans know isn’t true as again all they need to be is hot for her to date them, and instead Jessica takes off.
I think you might have guessed why I recommend this episode for Jane Austen fans. This reminds me a lot of Northanger Abbey with real life “mimicking” a novel, the effect reading novels can have on people, etc. Brad in a lot of ways is similar to both Mr. Tilney and Catherine Morland.
I also always thought that Brad would be someone fun to date as he would want to mimic fictional characters. Like imagine how great it would be if he read your favorite book? And wanted to be that character? Just make sure he doesn’t read a book wiht a character you hate.
But yes, a fun silly episode for fans of Northanger Abbey.
For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: A Christmas Movie Christmas (2019)
For more Jensen Ackles, go to Monster Movie: Supernatural (2008)