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CliffsNotes and Mark Burnett team up on animated web series

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Survivor producer Mark Burnett has teamed up with CliffsNotes, AOL, and Coalition Films to create an animated series based on classic books to make literary mainstays such as Shakespeare and Dickens more accessible to teens. Like the print versions of CliffsNotes, they’re geared to students who may either want an overview before starting a book — or, just as likely, procrastinators who haven’t read the book right before a test.

Burnett got involved in the project after seeing a need for this sort of content. “There’s no question that there’s no replacement for reading the actual books,” he told EW. “But kids do use CliffsNotes worldwide, no question about it. It amazed me that there was no digital version of these CliffsNotes.” In addition to being quick and informative, the series aims to engage its audience with humor. Burnett describes the first six Shakespeare titles the team has produced as “irreverent, animated, comedic shorts combining Shakespearean lauguage with real, modern high school and college American slang talk.” A cartoon superhero named Cliff is your guide to the videos, and he doesn’t hesitate to call you an “idiot” if you haven’t read the book yet.

Eventually, the series hopes to cover a big portion of the American literary canon, the “200 or so books that create the universe from which each school district or college chooses the curriculum of books you need to study and pass.” Burnett explains, “If I could make all 200 of those books into digital shorts, that library is worth a lot for a long time to come.”

Watch a clip below, and see all available videos here:

What do you think? Do these look like worthwhile supplements or a fluffy shortcut?