Intro to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – A New Pride and Prejudice Adaptation

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern day online and immersive adaption” of Pride and Prejudice created by Hank Green and Bernie Su and a team of excellent writers. The 4-minute episodes are posted on Monday and Thursdays at 9:00 A.M. Pacific time (I can assure you I am waiting by my computer at that time for the next installment). They are slowly telling the story of Pride and Prejudice through online video blogs, twitter and other social media outlets. It is a very interesting adaptation of the story and look at the uses of social media as a medium of story telling. There have been 80+ videos posted to date so while this adaption is winding down there is still plenty of time to catch up before the end.

I cannot speak enough praise for this innovative new adaptation of one of my favorite novels. I have found it to be so entertaining and yet unorthodox at the same time. I am normally a Jane Austen purest, but I find this series to be hilarious, relatable, and intriguing. It is certainly geared towards a younger generation because the videos are uploaded to YouTube. It engages its viewers not just through the videos but also through other social media to make the characters truly come to life through their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. There is even a Lizzie Bennet Tumblr, and Jane Bennet even has a Pinterest page!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: The Bennet Sisters

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries seems like the story of Pride and Prejudice transplanted in to the real modern world. Lizzie is a young woman searching to find a balance between herself, her family, her friends, her school and her work. (Who can’t relate to that?) Lizzie makes mistakes, and she has to deal with the misconceptions that she has made about people in her life including Darcy, Charlotte, Wickham, her sisters Lydia and Jane, and several of the other characters throughout the story. As the story progresses, Lizzie finds herself through her experiences and it is as beautiful to watch as it is to read in the novel. Pride and Prejudice to me seems like a coming of age story and a story of self-discovery. The Lizzie Benent Diaries allow the viewers to experience Lizzie’s life and feelings in a new and modern way so we too are discovering Lizzie as she does.

One of the highlights of this series is the cast behind the classic characters. I will talk more about the individual actors in later posts, so for now I will just tell you about the wonderful actress playing Lizzie who parallels the heroine Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries opening

The very talented actress Ashley Clements plays Lizzie, a 24 year old grad school student who is studying mass communications.  Ashley’s Lizzie is effervescent, witty and I instantly wanted to be her best friend. She is doing these vlogs (video blogs) as her thesis project for her graduate work. Young, modern, funny, and smart Ashley resembles the Elizabeth Bennet we know and love from the novel. We see some of Lizzie’s flaws in the videos as well. She is rather judgmental, sometimes harsh and even a little self-centered. These character traits however do not take away from her charm; in fact, they enhance her appeal by making her a more complex character. Elizabeth Bennet in the novel is by no means perfect, though sometimes I forget that because I love her so much.  Lizzie Bennet has similar flaws and I appreciate her for them because no one is perfect and it makes her more thought provoking.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Jane and Bing

The other characters are also interesting and engaging. Lizzie’s sister Jane Bennet is a fashion buyer who is the picture of sweetness and wholesomeness. Her best friend Charlotte Lu (Charlotte Lucas) is Lizzie’s sassy, goal oriented BFF who also helps her edit the videos. Bing Lee (Mr. Bingley) is a shy but generous medical student. Fitz William (Colonel Fitzwilliam) is a fabulously gay businessman who should have his own show. George Wickham (Mr. Wickham) is a beautiful swim coach with a great body. He also just exudes Wickham because he is too good-looking, charming and funny for his own good. From the beginning he just seems too good to be true. Gigi Darcy (Georgiana Darcy) is a young graphic designer who instantly likes Lizzie because she watches her videos and actively tries to get Lizzie and Darcy together. Gigi is a delightful character though she doesn’t really resemble the tremendously shy character from the book.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia Bennet

Lydia Bennet, Lizzie’s younger sister steals the show in many early episodes. She is a wild child and is known for her marathon style partying, double jointed arms and super sassy attitude. Lydia gets her own vblog later in the episodes where we see her emo cousin Mary and her relationship with Wickham progress. Even Lydia’s cat “Kitty Bennet” has her own twitter. I will not spoil the brilliant plot twist that the writers and creators came up with for Lydia and Wickham, but I think it is the perfect contemporary twist on Lydia’s elopement.The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Collins

Ricky Collins (Mr. Collins) is a personal favorite of mine. He is an owner of a big company who offers Lizzie a great paying job in language that makes you cringe and want to look way. Collins is excessively self-confident, rather incompetent and reliant on his investor Catherine de Bourgh for ideas and money. Charlotte and Ricky have great connection. Charlotte’s subtle manipulation of him is very well done. Catherine de Bourgh is never seen (along with the Bennet parents which is a loss) though Lizzie does reenact all of them in her “costume theater” which is one of the best parts of the vlogs.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie

And last but certainly not least, William Darcy (Mr. Darcy). Darcy is a hipster, well maybe not a full blown hipster but he certainly dresses like a hipster. He wears suspenders, red bowties or skinny ties, and Lizzie even calls him a “Newsie” (what is a great line!). I actually HATED it at first but after some reflection I think it is completely appropriate and a smart decision on the part of the creators. By making him a haughty hipster Darcy automatically comes off as socially awkward, stiff, and pretentious. Darcy is a character in name only until episode 59 (when we see his body but not his head). We don’t get to see Darcy really until episode 60, though we hear a lot about him. This might seem annoying but I think it does two important things for the show:

  1. It built up the suspense for the audience seeing Darcy since we hear so much about him.
  2. The first 58 videos focus so much on Lizzie, her life, her perspective and her views of Darcy that it puts the audience much more in her shoes than other adaptations where the audience sees Darcy from minute one and sees his growing attraction to Lizzie.

In the LBD we are just left with Lizzie’s view of him. This is a brilliant device by the creators who are battling the audience’s very strong preconceived ideas about Darcy. Darcy owns a big company in San Francisco called Pemberley Digital, which is coming out with a new product called Domino. I suspect Domino will play a major part in upcoming episodes to capture some of the final scenes.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy had fun once

Image from I h8 Everything Tumbler by Ginia

I am so invested in this story that I not only watch the videos; I read the tweets and view the Tumblrs, and Facebook posts regularly; follow Jane on Pinterest; and follow the actors on Facebook. What I am so intrigued by about this adaptation is that the creators designed the story to be so multi layered just like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. On the first viewing of the videos, just like with the first reading of the novel, a viewer will understand the story, but on further viewings, and investigation into the cross platform social media extravaganza that has been created, a viewer will get a more personal view of the characters and the ingenious subtleties of the plot. I have found this adaptation to bring the characters more to life then any other adaptation. I feel like the characters are relatable, engaging, and young which is so refreshing.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Fitz and Lizzie

Over the next few weeks I will be posting a weekly article about groups of episodes of the LBD and some of the things that I love them. I will be talking more about the characters, themes, modernization, cute quirks and anything else that strikes my fancy about this entertaining adaptation.

Feel free to send me links, comments and responses all about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries because I think this adaptation fosters a wonderful conversation especially for a younger generations just discovering Jane Austen. So start watching right away, and if you are a dedicated follower take this time to re-watch the early episodes so they will be fresh in you mind.

Further reading:

© 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington, Austenprose

45 thoughts on “Intro to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – A New Pride and Prejudice Adaptation

  1. This is such a wonderful modern re-telling of P&P — I am delighted that you are devoting time to it here! It is clear from various interviews I have watched and read that the creators/writers are fans of the original, and are very concerned with staying true to the characters and to the major plot points as they adapt it to a 21st century sensibility. For instance, Gigi is not shy, because they didn’t think it was credible that a shy person would willingly make a vlog. Still, I do think that Gigi retains much of the sweetness and vulnerability that is also a part of Georgiana. It is a kick to see tweets and comments from viewers who have not read P&P as they are engaged by the story, as they react differently to certain events than those of us who already know the story. I certainly enourage anyone in your readership who has not yet connected with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries to take the time to not only watch the videos, but explore the various online platforms they utilize to enhance the story.

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  2. Great review! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have such a blast watching every week. Like you, I’m on pins and needles for the next installment come Monday’s and Thursday’s. :D There are things that I will admit bother me about it, but they are vastly overshadowed by how awesome it is! ;) And I love that it’s introducing Jane to a huge amount of new readers.

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  3. I have been waiting for this blog to feature The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for quite sometime now! And finally, here it is! I can’t wait to read the upcoming articles! :) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is really a delightful and refreshing take on one of my favorite Austen novels. Having read P&P for over a hundred times already, it is surprising that the web series still gave me a new perspective on the characters, especially with Lizzie. Lydia’s storyline was well thought of, some might think it a little too extreme, but in our modern age, it certainly is the equivalent of Lydia’s elopement scandal. I also love how they portrayed Charlotte, they gave her character so much substance. Gigi and Fitz also gave their own share of fun by feeding the fans what they need the most – Lizzie and Darcy updates!

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  4. Ahhhh! So glad that you guys finally blogged about this! It’s my absolute favorite, and such a great re-imagining of Pride & Prejudice. Fantastic write up for a fantastic show!

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    • Youtube is a good place to start, but if you want to be sure to get all of the episodes (including not only Lizzie’s but other characters’, as well) in the right sequence, along with the tweets, tumblrs, etc. , you’d do better to go to their website: http://www.lizziebennet.com. It’s totally addictive, and SO good – have fun!!

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  5. I can’t wait for the next mini-episode of the show. I fell in love with the characters immediately and the similarities are insane. Even though I’ve seen, read and heard all kinds of re-telling of Pride and prejudice, I just can’t have enough. I totally love it!
    Your work here, with all the great writing of Jane Austen, makes me very happy, because I can escape into her world from time to time. She is my favorite. I worship everything you all do to maintain her memory alive and fresh for all of us.
    Best,
    Diana

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  6. It is wonderful to read this review and know
    how others are just as enthusiastic about
    this blog. I have watched 86 episodes in the
    last few weeks and get so excited on Mondays. They have updated a 200-year-
    old classic with a fresh modern approach and
    respected the original material. The Bennet
    sisters, Charlotte, Bing, Gigi are all so well
    done and their translation of the Lydia-Wickham situation into a 21st century
    catastrophe is wise and appropriate.

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  7. I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! I just found out about them a couple of weeks ago and quickly caught up on all the episodes. Basically, I couldn’t stop watching until I saw Darcy. =) They’ve really done an amazing job at adapting the story into a modern setting.

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  8. LOVE this new adaptation! So glad you’ll be blogging about it (I’m surprised I haven’t seen it discussed on any of the Austen blogs I read!) I love how they’ve updated the story and so many of the characters… I’ve never before been sympathetic to Lydia but am rooting for her this time around. But the series does such a good job of sucking us in and I’m impressed with anything that helps the next generation become Janeites! :)

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  9. I started watching this a couple of weeks ago and have already become a huge fan. I think I’m only on episode 24 so far but have loved every one of them. I think Lydia’s character is brilliant and can’t wait to see what the plot twists are. Thanks for this really interesting post!

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    • If you can, I’d recommend catching up soon so that you can follow the rest of the series in real time. It adds a whole different dimension to the experience when you have to wait out the hard parts along with the characters – makes it much more real than when you can skim over their weeks of agony in just a few minutes!

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  10. Such a fabulous series — and I only finally sat down to watch it a few weeks ago. I fell down the rabbit hole because suddenly I was all caught up! I love how this series has managed to put keep its viewers on pins and needles waiting to see what happens next — even though the plot is 200 years old!

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  11. I had heard the Lizzie Bennet Diaries mentioned on one or two other Austen blogs (just people leaving a comment about going to watch it). I’m glad you went into depth about it so I now know exactly what it is. I guess I’ll go to YouTube and check it out!

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  12. I have seen so much hubbub about this and my curiosity is more than piqued… But have avoided it knowing I really should not indulge in one more potentially addictive vice. Your stellar synopsis is making my struggle so much more difficult. Maybe just one epi… (Snorts! At my own inevitable weakness.)

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    • Yes, be prepared for how overpowering your inevitable weakness will be. Another blogger was writing about how she stumbled across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and now she just can’t stop. Applies to all us, I think! And welcome to the club!

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  13. Great write-up on the LBD and appreciate the link to Jane’s Pinterest page(must check that out!). I totally adore this series and despite knowing the book all too well,couldn’t resist leaving a comment at certain episodes on YouTube every now and then-the actors and actresses here are that good.

    Right now,the plot line is deep in the Lydia situation and I truly enjoy how well developed they’ve made her character here-actually feel sorry for her at this point. I hope that they continue with another Austen vlog series after this one is done-maybe Mansfield Park?

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  14. I really like this show, although I’m not in the target public. LBD is just awesome and your review is great as well! There’s just one thing I didn’t get. You said that Fitz is gay in the adaptation, but I don’t see nothing that could infer that, nor anybody has stated that. I’m not saying that he isn’t nor that I don’t want him to be, he’s an awesome character, independent of that. I just don’t see the point of stating that he’s gay.

    Anyways, congrats on your review! ;)

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    • It was stated within the videos that he is gay. Otherwise, perhaps one would wonder why he and Lizzie don’t get together. But a Fitz-and-Lizzie pairing is never on the table.

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    • I believe Lizzie talks about going to dinner with Fitz and his boyfriend? I can’t remember but at some point there is a passing comment about Fitz having a boyfriend. Plus, if you follow the characters on twitter Fitz and Gigi talk about him.

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    • Cassio – Lizzie says he has a boyfriend in the first episode she mentions him. He has also tweeted about his boyfriend Brandon.

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    • In EP 55, where Fitz is first mentioned, Lizzie says that they are invited to dine with Fitz and his boyfriend ( so we are to “keep those ships tied up at the dock”). Later tweets tell us his name is Brandon.

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    • I am sure that Fitz is gay and I actually think it is a great decision by the creators. I have always been in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam and think he is a wonderful character. In the books it was always puzzling to me why he and Lizzie didnt/couldnt work out. (I mean I know WHY.. because of Darcy but he has always been a favorite secondary character of mine). In the book he cant be more than friends with Lizzie because she doesnt have any money. By making him gay they allow for he and Lizzie keep their relationship 100% in the friend zone. Now they just get to have so much fun together and he is wonderful to watch!

      Also Bernie Su talking about making Fitz gay in his tumblr.
      http://berniesu.tumblr.com/post/34433495877/lizzie-bennet-bts-hunsford-arc-part-1-aka-collins-and

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    • I am sure that Fitz is gay, and I actually think it is a great decision by the creators. I have always been in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam, and think he is a wonderful character. In the books it was always puzzling to me why he and Lizzie didnt/couldnt work out. (I mean I know WHY.. because of Darcy but he has always been a favorite secondary character of mine). In the book he cant be more than friends with Lizzie because she doesnt have any money. By making him gay they allow for he and Lizzie keep their relationship 100% in the friend zone. Now they just get to have so much fun together and he is wonderful to watch!

      Also Bernie Su talking about making Fitz gay in his tumblr.
      http://berniesu.tumblr.com/post/34433495877/lizzie-bennet-bts-hunsford-arc-part-1-aka-collins-and

      He tweets Gigi go hang out at the house with Brandon- not a direct statement that Brandon is his boyfriend but I inferred it that way.

      This is a good example of the layers that I was talking about in the article. At first you might not notice that Fitz is gay but by digging deeper you can find more and more clues that suggest he is.

      It is just something interesting to think about : )

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      • Thank you Virginia for taking the time to answer me and for pointing me the video. After commenting I went to twitter and saw the posts you’ve mentioned about Brandon, and I thought “Wow, maybe I really missed something here” hahaha. And your analysis is excellent!

        Keep on with the good work! ;)

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    • Thank you all for the answers. Yes, it is stated and when I rewatched the video I remembered of the first time I saw it. I don’t know why I forgot this detail, I might have thought it was unimportant, but, as Virginia has brilliantly analized, it is an important detail as it explains why Lizzie + Fitz could not happen. It could have been only because he knows Darcy is in to her, but this new approach on their relationship is actually much more interesting. And I like how, aside this comment by Lizzie in the first video she talks about him, they keep discretion about this fact, because, actually, his sexuality isn’t anyone’s business.

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  15. @Cassio, Lizzie makes a point of mentioning it in Episode 55 when she first meets him: she’s invited to dinner with Fitz and his boyfriend.

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  16. Great series. Like the idea of Eliz. Bennet’s father doddering around with model trains. (As I have occasionally). I expect his train room is his refuge from his silly daughters. (Except for Lizzie).

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  17. I’m so excited to have found your blog, as I am also Jane Austen obsessed! A little over a month ago I stumbled across The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and quickly devoured each and every vlog post to catch myself up. I have become fully invested in the entire interactive experience of the story too. It’s crazy how much I am constantly checking twitter to see if any of the characters have tweeted something new. What are we all going to do when the story ultimately comes to an end? ~Chrissy

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  18. Oh, how I love this! The caption on the Darcy pic made me laugh hysterically! I’m following Lizzie’s vlogs avidly and have watched all of Lydia’s and Gigi’s too. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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  19. This really is a well done modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I found these a couple months ago and have been obsessed with them since. I have been guilty of watching the latest videos in-between my classes. :} I am so impressed with the way the writers portray the characters so fresh and fun, yet in an accurate light. The story has been progressing great, and I have seen so many comments on how the videos have inspired people to read the actual novel. I am so impressed so far, and maybe have an un-healthy obsession to these. Can’t wait to see how it moves along!
    This was an excellent review on these, I couldn’t agree more. :)

    P.S. I REALLY enjoyed “Jane Austen Made Me Do It”.

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  20. Awesome review of LBD! I actually feel lucky to be experiencing the unfolding of the story in real time, with all the suspense and anticipation for the next Lizzie or Lydia or Gigi video. There is talk of it all coming out on DVD later, but it wouldn’t be the same.

    I think Lydia’s story with Wickham should be required watching for girls over 16! I won’t give the plot away but the writers did a FABULOUS job with the way they presented and built up their relationship. So true to how a unhealthy relationship can start and continue. When people ask “How could she fall for that or put up with that”, these videos show in excruciating accuracy just how things like that happen to otherwise smart women.

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  21. Yay! So glad you liked the series! I also think they did such a great job making the story so multi-layered, especially with the addition of technology and social media. Every character has been updated in a fun and quirky but believable way that this series made me fall in love with Pride and Prejudice all over again! I’m so sad that we’re almost to the end of the story because I want it to go on and on forever!
    ~Sara
    sarastrauss.blogspot.com

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  22. I’ve been seeing plugs for this all over and finally took the time to start watching. Now it’s all I want to do so I can catch up. I keep thinking how fun it would be to start on another Austen novel before P&P ends and have the “characters” of the 2 interact somehow, to a certain extent. Wouldn’t it be fun if Lydia was friends on facebook with Marianne Dashwood or something along those lines?

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  23. Pingback: A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 1 – 16 « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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