Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

R to L: Charlotte, Lizzie, Lydia, and Jane from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

During the past year, one of my writing students at Class Day kept encouraging me to watch a YouTube video series called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. A modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that were posted between April 2012-March 2013, this series sounded wonderful, but when does one have the time to hunker down with one's laptop to watch over 100 videos?

Not moi.

But during Christmas break, I did it at last.

And I absolutely fell in LOVE with this amazing adaptation that brought the three Bennet sisters, Jane, Lizzie, and Lydia, into the 21st century--along with Charlotte, the emo Cousin Mary, and Lydia's new kitten, Kitty. (Yes, poor Kitty is relegated to an actual cat....)

Lizzie is a 24 year-old graduate student in mass communication who starts a video diary...or vlog. The first episode begin with Lizzie holding up a t-shirt with the opening lines of Austen's famous novel: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

We never see the Bennet parents; Lizzie assumes a hat and shawl to represent her mother while she usually pushes Charlotte, her techy and partner-in-crime, into assuming the character of Mr. Bennet, complete with plaid shirt, hat, and pipe. We only see the four characters of Lizzie, Jane (who works an entry-level job in the fashion industry), Charlotte (also in graduate school), and Lydia (a party girl who attends community college) for a good portion of the series. Lizzie gets Jane and Charlotte to represent other characters: Bing Lee, the medical student who buys Netherfield, Caroline Lee, his sister, and William Darcy, Bing's best friend and media mogul.

I won't get into the whole plot of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but we do meet Mr. Collins (of Collins & Collins whose chief investor is Catherine DeBourgh), and later we get to meet Gigi Darcy, William Darcy's younger sister who works with him at Pemberly Digital. We don't meet Ms. DeBourgh, but Lizzie provides an hysterical characterization of her for us. And of course we also meet a very handsome George Wickham, a swim coach whose college days were ruined by Darcy who refused to pay his tuition (according to George). And the plot goes on from there....

In a way, this version of Austen's classic has more depth than the novel as the sisters go through real trials together and do what they can for each other. Lizzie and Lydia, who seem polar opposites at the beginning of the videos and fight as sisters usually do, reach a new understanding of what sisters can mean to one another as the series comes to a close. Jane is the peacemaker who sees good in everyone, but she also develops a backbone as "the New Jane" and becomes more assertive by the end of the series.

Lizzie also learns that her mocking way of representing the people in her life can get her into trouble. She learns to open her eyes past "first impressions" (the original title of P&P) and sees that her viewpoint is far from the only one that is important.

While there is some mild language (Lydia calls everyone "bitches" the way we might say "girls") and there is a discussion of sex tapes, I'd rate this series as PG. I think that tween and teen girls might learn a great deal about sibling and even future business relationships from watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

And besides that, these videos are simply hysterically funny!! The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are really a social satire of a social satire, and while there is much to laugh at, there is also much to learn.  

So if you have, say, six hours or so to invest in a wonderful series, check out The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!! I still have their voices echoing through my brain three days later....


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