Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why You Should Be Watching "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"

The world has had it's fair share of "Pride and Prejudice" adaptations.  Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier brought the story to life in 1940, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle created the definitive adaptation in1995, Renee Zellweger recast the story as Bridget Jones in 2001, and Bollywood even gave the story it's own spin in 2004's Bride and Prejudice.  But now there is an adaptation that is changing the way we enjoy the story, and it is taking the world by storm.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a web series that tells the Pride and Prejudice story as a vlog (that's a blog in video format).  Created last April by Hank Green & Bernie Su, it stars Ashley Clements as a modern day Lizzie Bennet.  Lizzie is a grad student majoring in mass communications, so she enlisted the help of her best friend Charlotte Lu (Julia Cho) to create a vlog series about her life.  Many of the initial episodes are filmed in Lizzie's bedroom and we learn about her life at home with her sisters, fashion guru Jane and immature but fun Lydia, and her parents.  When a rich (and single) medical student moves into the neighborhood, Lizzie's mom begins devising plans to get one of her girls married off, and the Bennet household is never the same again.

There are lots of reasons to enjoy this series.  The first is that the adaptation of the book to modern day California is perfect.  The writers do a great job of staying true to much of the plot, tone, and spirit of Austen's original while being able to make everything fit in with life in modern America.  I am constantly amazed at how they adapt specific plot points whether it's Jane and Lizzie staying at Netherfield or Charlotte connecting with Mr. Collins (Maxwell Glick).  Another reason this series is so great is the casting.  Everybody is spot on and gives a modern flair to each character while still paying homage to the original.  Ashley Clements is spectacular as Lizzie portraying her humor, intelligence, and "prejudice" in a way anyone can relate to.  And Daniel Gordh as William Darcy (introduced in episode 60) plays off of her very well as a professional, socially awkward, and slightly hipster version of the literary character.  There is a really great chemistry with all of these actors and it definitely makes every episode lots of fun.

What really sets this series apart from other adaptations is it's use of social media to connect with it's viewers.  The show makes use of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and more to make fans accessible to the story.  Viewers can comment, characters will tweet, and the story uses every outlet to move forward.  There are even occasional question and answer sessions with Lizzie where she takes random viewer questions.  This all combines to make it seem like this is actually a real vlog and not just a scripted series (Lizzie would even question viewer's eagerness to see Darcy in the early episodes, insisting that she would never make a video in his presence).  I really think it is the interactiveness that has made this such a popular series.

If you haven't yet jumped on the LBD train, now is the time to do so.  There are 2 episodes every week (Monday and Thursday), plus episodes of The Lydia Bennet (Lydia's sporadic vlog) and Maria of the Lu (Charlotte's sister's blog).  Episode 79 appears tomorrow, but you must start at the beginning.  Head over to YouTube to start catching up.  You can also interact with the story via Twitter, Tumbler, and Facebook.  I am completely addicted to this series, and I'm sure any other P&P fan will be as well.         

1 comment:

Hannah said...

It was this blog post that convinced me to watch "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" : ) Thank you so much for writing it! I was shocked at how faithful it was to the book and it's such a fantastic modern-day update. I adored it! I'm really hoping that they'll adapt "Emma" once they've finished with their "Sanditon" series (which I haven't enjoyed tbh). I think "Emma" could work brilliantly as a vlog series.