Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Last week, I found out about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is a modern version of Pride and Prejudice in the shape of a web series. This discovery is all thanks to Indigo Montoya, I would never have come across it if I didn't read her blog! And now it's my turn to pass the torch to people who might be interested...
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune...
The concept of the series is that Lizzie Bennet is a college student in California who starts videoblogging about her life, assisted by her best friend Charlotte Lu. Lizzie's mother is obsessed with finding husbands for her daughters as in the original novel, but otherwise things have been modified to suit a modern setting. Lizzie has only two sisters, Jane and Lydia – though Mary and Kitty exist too, as an emo cousin and Lydia's cat respectively. Jane's love interest is called Bing Lee and he's a rich medical student, while Darcy is an even richer company owner. Lizzie's traveling is explained by her visiting the enterprises Collins & Collins and Pemberley Digitals (!) as a part of her Master's Thesis. Lydia's involvement with Wickham in the end is changed into something that will shock a modern viewer in a way that the original plot probably shocked Austen's readers.
... must be in want of a wife
"So what's the point of making a modern version of a classic novel in a whole different medium?" someone might ask. "Surely we can't have new generations thinking that watching Youtube videos is enough to be acquainted with Austen and her contribution to literature?" Well, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries seem to have been quite popular since their release in 2012, and have hopefully managed to reach people who weren't previously familiar with Austen's works. But still, I think the web series is best enjoyed by those who have already read Pride and Prejudice, or at least seen a film or TV adaptation. The real fun in watching LBD comes from relating its characters and events to the ones in the novel – from realizing things like how Mr Collins is exactly as hilarious, self-important and annoying as in the novel, and how brilliant it is that Charlotte in the 2010s is looking for independence by means of a job instead of a marriage. Speaking of Charlotte – the moment when she explains to Lizzie how she feels it's her duty to start supporting herself when her family is in financial difficulties is truly striking. Moments like this, which show that our problems aren't much different from the problems of people in the 1800s, are the answer to the "what's the point" question. A good modernization reveals the fact that the original work, in this case Pride and Prejudice, is truly timeless, and has earned its position as an internationally acknowledged classic with good reason.

I can tell you another reason to watch Lizzie Bennet Diaries which is much simpler that the one I just stated: all the actors are good, most of them superb. You should watch it just to see the spot-on portrayals of Jane, Lydia, Mr Collins, Darcy and Caroline. I actually found Lizzie herself a bit annoying at first, I felt that she just talked a lot and didn't get into her character so much. I still don't think Lizzie was perfectly characterized, but her imitations of Mrs Bennet and Darcy are beyond funny! And she does lots of imitations because they are an integral part of her video blog, which means that entertainment is certain!

Lizzie (right) and Lydia re-enact a conversation between Darcy and Bing Lee
As the modern setting for the story worked so well and the actors were excellent, I have only one real cause of disappointment in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries – it doesn't show the "Lizzie vs. Catherine de Bourgh" confrontation which happens near the end of the book and which is by far my favourite Elizabeth Bennet moment ever. I can understand why it had to be so, because Ms de Bourgh is the kind of obscure manager sort who sits high above all the "common people" and doesn't appear at all in Lizzie's videos, but I still missed that moment...

What about you – what, in your opinion, is Elizabeth's most glorious moment, either in the book or in any adaptation?

1 comment:

  1. Aw, you found the LBD because of me! My blog is doing good! I loved this web series so much. It wasn't 100% perfect of course but I loved it all the same. Even though it's set in the modern day it's far better than the 1940 and 2005 films in my eyes. I think in some ways that it's even better than the 1995 version (but then I'm part of the minority that thinks it's a little bit overrated). I'd stay away from the vlog series of Sanditon though. I really wanted to like it but it's seriously boring. I've given up watching the episodes now and I can only hope that the next we series will be better - whatever that is.

    Hmm, Elizabeth's most glorious moment... I've never really thought about it before but I guess it does have to be her argument with Lady Catherine. Her first meeting with Lady Catherine at Rosings is great as well.