Shakespeare takes Netflix


Credit: Isabela Peixoto

Shakespeare: The man who shaped modern literature. He is read at schools around the world every year and though some students deeply enjoy Shakespeare, many simply cannot relate to it, usually because of the language. The original text may be lost on many but the power of his words live on through modern adaptations and interpretations that are widely viewed by our generation. Whether or not watchers are aware of it, Shakespeare is everywhere, even on Netflix. So for those of you who are avid binge-watchers who have never read a word of Shakespeare, you may have been watching him for years.


Avid House of Cards fans may not be aware of the Shakespeare’s influence on their show.   Claire Underwood plays the perfect Lady Macbeth, in that she is ruthless and has her eye on the prize, always. While you’re binging all 5 seasons you might notice Frank Underwood bears a remarkable resemblance to Richard III with his asides to the audience and ability to make the viewers root for him even when he does terrible things.


Though parts of Hamlet have become a part of pop culture be it kids trying to avenge their parent’s death ( “you killed my father, prepare to die”) or brother against brother (there is literally a reality show called Brother Vs Brother) none are as blatant with their references as The Lion King. The Lion King follows the plot to the letter from someone killing their own brother to become King to said King reappearing as a ghost. The only difference being that Disney Version has a happy ending.


The main plot of Romeo and Juliet is simple enough: Boy meets girl, they fall in love but cannot be together because they are from opposing sides. The simplicity of it is why it has so many adaptations: West side story, Warm bodies, Twilight, Pizza my heart along with a handful of others with not so subtle play on the name Romeo and Juliet (see: Gnomeo and Juliet) and another handful based on the actual play (see Romeo and Juliet 1936,1954,1968 and 1996 amongst others).


Many people have watched She’s the man (me included) without realizing it was based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In both stories, Viola is in love with Duke who is in love with Olivia who is in love with Sebastian.


10 things I hate about you plays on Taming of the Shrew. It is one of my favorite movies and definitely the best modern take on Shakespeare. The movie itself is a very 90s-esque romantic comedy with a bit of teen angst. From the plot to the actors (google Heath Ledger and see for yourself),  10 things I hate about you is a work of art. It encompasses teenage emotions flawlessly. The big difference being that Taming of the Shrew is completely sexist as it implies rather explicitly that women need to be tamed whilst 1o things I hate about you depicts  Kat and Patrick (the ‘shrew’ and the ‘tamer’) as equals – they have equal control of each other.


All this to say that Shakespeare’s influence isn’t limited to his plays and that 400 years later his stories live on, whether it’s reading  Macbeth in your English class or binge-watching House of cards on Netflix.