Subtitle, courtesy of @onlymystory, “If This is the Kind of Single Man in Want of a Wife…GIVE ME THE DAMN RING.”
I have a confession. So here’s the thing. The thing is: I am hopelessly addicted to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. And you should be too.
As you may know, Monday was the 200th anniversary of the publishing of my beloved Pride and Prejudice. Okay, I guess I can’t say ‘my’ beloved. It’s not like I wrote it. If only. But still. As one of my favorite books and my absolute favorite movie, you are getting a post dedicated to Pride and Prejudice. Because, duh.
But wait, there’s a twist! I’m not going to wax poetic about the book (though I could) and I’m not going to fawn over the movie (even though I did watch it Sunday for approximately the 200th time). Instead, I am going to shout excitedly about the most recent interpretation: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
First things first: What is it?
Good question! The one-line answer: Modern day P&P done as a vlog.
In this retelling, Lizzie Bennet is a 24 year-old grad student studying Mass Communications. She has two sisters – the elder, Jane, and the younger, Lydia. For fun, and as part of her thesis, Lizzie decides to make a vlog about her life and the matchmaking attempts of her mother.
The characters are, for the most part, the same. Their names and appearances? Not so much. For instance, Kitty has been relegated to the role of Lydia’s cat; Mary is a cousin. Don’t question it – it works. Also, all three sisters have gorgeous red hair. I’m having some serious hair-envy, y’all.
Charlotte Lucas is still Lizzie’s best and truest friend but she is now Asian and named Charlotte Lu. Charles Bingly is now Bing Lee. (Yes, he’s Asian. And yes, he looks like the Asian Tyler Hoechlin. Trust me? Oh, you don’t. Okay then:
Exhibit A: faces
Exhibit B: deuces
Exhibit C: abs
Or maybe it’s just that ‘there’s something pleasant about his mouth when he speaks’ – smiles – whichever. Either way, I rest my case. (I know you didn’t ask but come on, it was totally worth mentioning.)
This adaptation, like any and all good adaptations, hits all the major plot-points: Jane falls for Bing Lee (love at first sight!). Lizzie finds Darcy intolerable. Bing Lee throws a party. Jane and Lizzie stay at Netherfield. Lizzie meets and flirts with Wickham. Wickham is full of shit and eventually hooks up with Lydia. Bing Lee is convinced to leave Netherfield by his interfering sister Caroline and best friend Darcy. Charlotte accepts a proposal from Mr Collins and then Lizzie goes to visit her. Lizzie goes to Pemberly and that’s where we are now.
I’m getting really invested in these characters. Like, if you had asked me a fortnight ago, I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to have more love for Darcy and Lizzie or more hatred for Wickham or more angst and eye-rolling over Lydia but I LOVE IT SO MUCH MORE NOW. I’m thinking about the story differently and how this modern adaptation works (and how it doesn’t).
Like – Mary. I am so into Mary as a character. She is just a bad-ass and yet so perfectly in character: introverted, quiet, soft-spoken, keeps-to-herself. But then she knows how to wrangle Lydia and turns into a good friend for her cousin. And nabs herself a boyfriend!
Speaking of Lydia – I never would have imagined Lydia as a sympathetic character, not really, but this vlog has managed to do so. Giving her a spin-off series really lets us into the emotional depth of Lydia: she’s the baby of the family; she’s not as close to either of her sisters as they are too each other; she doesn’t have a love interest (and seems fairly content with that in the beginning) but clearly doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a slut, either; she’s lonely. This is the first P&P adaptation, at least that I’ve seen, that really allows Lydia ample screen time and gives her some plot instead of treating her as a plot device.
And Lizzie. You guys, this series took the opportunity to show Lizzie as a biased/not completely reliable narrator and ran with it. Of course they kept Lizzie the main character and are telling the story from her perspective, but it’s so refreshing to see that she’s fallible – and that others around her know that! The use of Jane and Charlotte in the videos has really helped flesh out how Lizzie’s opinions can be ‘prejudiced’ and sometimes marred by her first impressions. (Fun fact, the original title of P&P was “First Impressions”. The more you know.) Her use of ‘costume theater’ helps dramatize her interactions with others, sure, but it’s also giving us, the viewers, a really accurate portrayal of how, exactly, Lizzie thinks of those people while veiling it in a ‘fake’ kind of way.
Now that it’s been mentioned, enough can’t be said for Lizzie’s costume theater. While biased, it really helped to introduce characters and give them another dimension while letting us into Lizzie’s mindspace. Also, it gives us time to really appreciate how precious and adorable these characters are. May I present:
If you didn’t notice, the first gif set isn’t just Darcy – it’s hipster!Darcy. That is his natural character disposition! Darcy is a hipster. I totally buy that interpretation 100%. In Lizzie’s costume theater bits she always provides a red bowtie and newsie cap (in one episode she called Darcy a Newsie and I almost died I was so thrilled). In that first gif, those are HIS OWN hat and tie. He wanted to be in character costume to please her.
And that bottom gifset? Yeah, that’s Fitz. I don’t know if you remember him from the books, but he’s pretty much always been my fallback option for Lizzie if she couldn’t have Darcy. But in modern times he’s gay. And wonderful. I just, I need a Fitz in my life. He really gets Darcy’s personality and knows how to coax Darcy into being teasing and lighthearted and it’s fabulous. I also love that he and Gigi are conspiring to get Lizzie and Darcy together. Their twitter interactions are actually the best. Case in point:
Okay, I’ve made my pitch. If this hasn’t won you over, I don’t know what will. While you watch keep an eye out for Georgiana “Gigi” Darcy’s blatant machinations (with her super side-kick Fitz), the nods to having a Vlog Brother produce (Mary was reading Looking for Alaska), the cranberry green bean jello mould, Wickham’s abs, Mr Collins’ proposal, the Lizzie/Darcy fanfic shoutout (you guys – someone trolled AO3 by posting the first 800 or so words of P&P as if it were a Regency AU fanfic). Okay. That’s really all.
Start watching! I provided the link to the entire series playlist for your convenience:
(Don’t shoot me for the plethora of Diet Pepsi ads.)