Series title: The Better Strangers
Created by: The Borrowers That Lend
Starring: Aubrey Carey, KC Montgomery, Blake Peebles
Elevator pitch: Literally every character is in the wrong but it’s okay
Features: Strong female protagonists, female friendship, m/m relationship, f/f relationship, bisexual lead, pansexual representation, 100% shippable main couple, amazing character arcs, sibling relationship, great ensemble cast, learning to change
It is extremely uncommon to move from one source material to another in the same world. Notably, the Candle Wasters did this with Nothing Much To Do (Much Ado About Nothing), and Lovely Little Losers (Love’s Labour’s Lost). But less well-known is the transition following Rose Crantz, Paulie Hathaway, and Jill Stern from A Document of Madness (Hamlet) to The Better Strangers. Initially a side channel for ADOM, these characters blossomed into their own adaptation of As You Like It using the connection between the name Rose and Rosalind.
Excited for starting off the year in their own house, Rose and Jill throw a party where they get busted by the campus police and lose their house. With housing filled up, they are forced to move to the undesirable Arden Hall. What Rose doesn’t realize is that also at Arden Hall is one of her party attendees Orlando de Boys, a boy obsessed with his fantasies of his dream girl he met at Rose’s party - “Rosalind.” Initially out of revenge for Orlando starting the fight that brought the campus police to their door, Rose says she’ll teach Orlando what kind of person “Rosalind” would like with the intention of leading him on a merry dance.
Though understanding the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship is an important theme, arguably the most important plotline is the development of Rose, Jill, and Paulie’s friendship. Faced with their own woes, the three have to learn who they are separate from each other. Jill is a stellar character who stops becoming “the best friend” and declares her independence. Paulie struggles to learn how to let himself rely on others instead of being the one relied one. And Rose has to realize that she’s not always right. Outside of the main friendship, The Better Strangers boasts a myriad of well-written side characters (including Paulie’s lovable boyfriend and Orlando’s roommate Adam) and the tenuous brotherhood of Orlando and Oliver.
The Better Strangers is one of the best LIWs out there, hands down. Very few webseries achieve of level of realism that TBS has. All of the characters have their flaws, but the audience can truly see how they feel justified in their actions. It’s amazing, and you should go watch it.