Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I know I'm really late to the party, but I've just started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I know most of you are probably already acquainted with the series, but perhaps a few of you are not.

So here's the skinny.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen told in the form of a vlog (video blog) on YouTube. It's really cool.

Lizzie Bennet is a 20-something grad student living at home with her family as she works on her master's degree in mass communications. As a thesis project, she has started The Lizzie Bennet Diaries with the help of her best friend, filmmaking genius Charlotte. In the course of her vlog, in which she details the daily events going on in her life, we get to meet the rest of the Bennet clan, as well as other friends and annoyances, and watch the story of Pride and Prejudice unfold in an entirely unique manner.

I'm going to assume that you all know the basic story of Pride and Prejudice. Even if you haven't read the book or watch one of the movie adaptions (and you should, you know), anything I say about the characters here won't spoil it for you. I'm only 3/4ths of the way through the current episodes (they're not done yet) and I haven't gotten into the extra material such as Lydia's videos or Charlotte's videos, but here are some of the characters I've met so far. [Note: I thought about putting their pictures up, but half the surprise is finding out how they'll look, so I've only included pictures of those who appear in the first episode.]

Charlotte Lu. As previously stated, a film student and Lizzie's best friend. She's smart, level-headed, and pragmatic. I thought it was FANTASTIC that the creators cast an Asian as Charlotte, and I love how her worries stay true to that of Ms. Austen's Charlotte Lucas. Her concern is not love and marriage, but rather to avoid being a financial burden on her parents. First appears in Episode 1.

Jane Bennet. Lizzie's pretty elder sister is just as sweet and kind in the Diaries as she is in P&P. She's a fashion student, works in a shop, and is like the human equivalent of Bambi. (But not in an annoying way, I promise.) First appears in Episode 1.

Lydia Bennet. The wild child of the clan, Lizzie's only other sister (the creators allow Kitty and Mary cameos as other characters, but not as sisters) is a handful. She sleeps around, uses drugs, has an uncanny recall of unkept promises, and is generally nuts. But she also loves her sisters, and they love her. First appears in Episode 1.

Bing Lee. Bing Lee is the Bennet clan's newest neighbor. He's a Harvard medical student handsome, and oh so charming. Really. Just wait until you meet him. If Jane is Bambi, Bing is one of those cute puppy dogs that befriends an orphan fawn like you see on Yahoo! sometimes. Also, he's Asian, too! Squee! First appears in Episode 28.

Charlotte Lee. Snooty and superior, Charlotte nevertheless is an unexpected ally for Lizzie in certain episodes. First appears in Episode 27.

William Darcy. Darcy doesn't actually appear on screen until well into the Diaries, but we learn all we need to about him through Lizzie. According to he's snobby, conceited, arrogant, dull, and robotic. To which I grin and squeal. First appears in Episode 59.

Ricky Collins. Or, as he prefers to be called, Mr. Collins, as he has not yet obtained his doctorate. Instead of Lizzie's cousin, Mr. Collins is instead Lizzie and Charlotte's old friend from grade school who has moved up in the world by being sponsored by a wealthy venture capitalist. As in the books, Mr. Collins is... loquacious as well as completely oblivious. But he also has his own moments of sweetness. I'm actually a little fond of him. First appears in Episode 25.

George Wickham. An itinerant college swim coach, George first meets Lizzie in a bar. He's charming, handsome, and has such a tragic backstory. Really, if I didn't know any better... First appears in Episode 45.

Fitz Williams. A friend of Darcy's, Fitz is by far the biggest departure in the Diaries. He isn't related to Darcy, he's black, and he's gay (though not flamboyantly). However, as in the original text, he's funny, nice, and loyal to poor Darcy. First appears in Episode 56.

I've been told that Darcy's sister Gigi makes an appearance later, but I haven't gotten there yet. I've also been told that other characters show their faces in the other video series ("cousin" Mary in Lydia's videos and Marie Lu in her own videos with Charlotte.) [Edit: Apparently, Mary does appear once in the main videos.]

Other characters who are mentioned (and often impersonated) but never appear include:

Mr. Bennet. Grumbly, reclusive, and often shown with a pipe.

Mrs. Bennet. A social-climbing Southern belle, just as desperate to see her daughters married off as in the original text.

Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins' snooty venture capitalist sponsor. She has a pet dog named Annie-kins, which makes me laugh.


If you're like me, you probably got a little sick of people bugging you to watch this vlog series. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm going to bug you, too. It's really good! The different ways the creators have chosen to reimagine the situations and struggles of the various characters has been fascinating, and I LOVE the actors they've chosen. Really, it's been awesome.

The best part, though, is the love it's inspired for Pride and Prejudice. Those who already love the book adore the series, and those who avoid Jane Austen with a ten-foot pole get to enjoy her anyways and might now consider giving her books a chance. Wins all around!

To help you get started, here are the first two episodes of the series. You can find the rest in the playlist of YouTube. I'm going to go finish them now. Enjoy!

Episode 1 - My Name is Lizzie Bennet

Episode 2 - My Sisters: Problematic to Practically Perfect

Alright, I know some of you are busting to share the love. Go ahead and comment, but be careful of spoilers! Oooh, why don't you tell me how you first found out about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!