Pride and Prejudice (1995) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my seventh selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are now closed for new participants, but you can join us in reading all the great reviews and comments until December 31, 2013.

My Review

Eighteen years after it first aired on BBC One in October 1995, the television mini-series Pride and Prejudice (1995) is still blowing bonnets off Janeites and wowing them in the aisles! This week in London a twelve foot statue replicating Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy’s famous wet shirt ascent from the Pemberley pond was revealed. Its super hero size seems apropos in relation to the impact that the mini-series had on Britain in 1995, in the US when it aired on A&E in 1996, and the world. If that was not eye-popping enough, the scene recently topped a poll of the ten most memorable British TV moments! We will be bold as brass and claim it as the most memorable TV moment in period drama evah!

Mr Darcy twelve foot statue (2013)

Wet shirt Darcy may have fluttered hearts across the world, but let us not forget that there are five hours and thirty nine other minutes to enjoy too. The screenplay based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel was written by Andrew Davies and introduced a more energized and sexier version of the classic love story than viewers had previously experienced with the 1980 BBC mini-series or the 1940 MGM theatrical movie. It was a modernized Austen that purist detested, Janeites embraced, and the general public adored, converting millions into fans and launching the Austen renaissance that we are enjoying today.

Image from Pride and Prejudice (1995) Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth © 1995 BBC & A&E

In 2010 the producers issued a re-mastered edition of Pride and Prejudice 1995 to much acclaim. With the reveal of the giant Mr. Darcy in the Serpentine at London’s Hyde Park this week, I can hear the clicks of computer keyboards across the world purchasing the DVD and watching streaming video on NetFlix. We may now receive our entertainment through modern technology, but P&P 95 is a pure Regency era fix. From sumptuous costumes, authentic English manor houses and superb acting, viewers are still entranced by the world that Jane Austen created and producer Sue Birtwistle recreated. Even though we have been privileged with several adaptations of Austen’s classic story since P&P 95 was aired, nothing can match it for production value and sheer squee appeal.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) restored (2010)

This mini-series is so well-known and there has been so much written about over the years that I will not attempt to post a synopsis or rehash the nuances of the changes that were made by the screenwriter, director and production team. At a certain point we all must just accept what was done and enjoyed it, again and again. I will however talk a bit about my first reaction to the series and my evolution in embracing it.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Jennifer Ehle and Lucy Scott

In 1996 the US television station A&E actually showed period drama. When they advertised a new P&P mini-series I was really looking forward to watching it. I was curious what they would do with my favorite author’s novel and how it would compare to the BBC P&P 80 staring David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie, which I adored. With great anticipation I watched the first episode. The production values were stunning and the plot and dialogue were being fairly faithful to Austen’s intensions. But, I was not impressed enough with the direction and performances. In fact, I was so annoyed with Jennifer Ehle’s as Elizabeth Bennet that I could not continue watching the series—and did not. Her Elizabeth seemed too smug and conceited for me. I did not like her at all as a person, and I could not get past it. I was furious. What had they done to my Elizabeth?

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Netherfield Ball

Flash forward three years to 1999 and I am visiting a friend’s home and I arrive to find the P&P 95 playing on her TV. She is addicted to it and watches it continually, much to the annoyance of her husband. I am entranced. Did I miss something and not give it a proper try? Now, my friend knows that I love Jane Austen and is shocked that I had not seen the entire mini-series and puzzled why I did not like it. We proceed to watch the entire five hour series in one sitting together. I was converted and now totally hooked. How could I have been so hard on it the first time I viewed it? My aversion to Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth was banished. She was conceited, but that was what Austen had intended. After my reread of P&P, I was certain of it. AND Colin Firth as Darcy was just a knock out. My jaw dropped when I saw the wet shirt scene for the first time—and my girlfriend and I squeed and laughed and exclaimed our amazement. That was NOT in the novel! But WHO cared? It was fabulous. We of course had to rewind the VHS tape and rewatch it several times!

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Jennifer Ehle and David Bamber

There were other performance that were just amazing too. Here is a list of the cast:

  • Elizabeth Bennet – Jennfer Ehle
  • Mr. Darcy – Colin Firth
  • Jane Bennet – Susannah Harker
  • Mary Bennet – Lucy Briers
  • Kitty Bennet – Polly Maberly
  • Lydia Bennet – Julia Sawalha
  • Mrs. Bennet – Alison Steadman
  • Mr. Bennet – Benjamin Whitrow
  • Mr. Bingley – Crispin Bonham-Carter
  • Caroline Bingley – Anna Chancellor
  • Mrs. Hurst – Lucy Robinson
  • George Wickham – Adrian Lukis
  • Mr. Collins – David Bamber
  • Charlotte Lucas – Lucy Scott
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Barbara Leigh-Hunt
  • Georgiana Darcy – Emilia Fox
  • Mrs. Gardiner – Joanna David
  • Col. Fitzwilliam – Anthony Calf

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Colin Firth

Jennifer Ehle won the BAFTA for her Elizabeth. I still like Elizabeth Garvie’s interpretation in the 1980 version better, but Ehle’s Elizabeth did grow on me. Colin Firth as Darcy was just masterful. It made him a star and for good reason. His Darcy is stiff enough that we despise him for snubbing our heroine Elizabeth and yet his transformation from prig to passionate suitor totally wins us over. He is, to put it frankly, a dreamboat of a catch for our Lizzy. Handsome, rich and contrite. LOL, what young lady could hope for more? I have followed Firth’s career and enjoyed almost everything I have seen him in. Since P&P 95 he has been well recognized for his talent winning an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild Award.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Allison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet

There are many superb performances but I must place David Bamber’s Mr. Collins as one of the most brilliant portrayals of Austen’s toady reverend ever. It never fails to make me laugh-out-loud. Allison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet is also hysterical. I will never look at a lace hankie again and not think of her. Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh is so imperial and imposing that you just want to slap her.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Wedding scene of Elizabeth and Darcy

Pride and Prejudice (1995) remains one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptations. I watch it annually and it never ceases to entertain and amaze. It remains a cherished cultural phenomenon.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Restored Edition (2010)
A&E Home Video 2010
DVD (5 hours and 39 mins)
ASIN: B00364K6YW

Images courtesy © 2010 A&E Home Video; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice (1980) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my fifth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.

My Review:

I have been blogging about Jane Austen here at Austenprose for over five years and I have reviewed many books and movies, yet I have held off writing about the one that really turned me into a Jane Austen disciple—the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice. When something is close to our hearts we want to keep it in a special place, so my personal impressions of Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel has remained my own. In this bicentenary year, I think it is time for me to share.

It first aired in five (55) minute episodes on the BBC in the UK in 1979, and on US television on Masterpiece Theatre between October 26 and November 23, 1980. I was a great fan of Masterpiece and period drama and remember being quite excited to watch the new series. I was not disappointed in the first episode—in fact I was mesmerized—and watched the episode again when it aired again that week on PBS. Considering that in 1980 disco music was all the rage and Magnum P.I. and Three’s Company were the most popular television shows, you might understand why this anglophile was entranced by a series set in Regency England with beautiful costumes, country houses, sharp dialogue and swoon worthy romance. I was totally hooked and started reading the novel for the first time while the series aired.

Image of the poster of Pride and Prejudice © 1980 Masterpiece Theatre Now, considering that many of you who are reading this review where not even born by 1980, you might not get the significance of the way in which our entertainment was doled out to us in the those early days. There was the television broadcast, and that was it. In fact there were no VCR’s yet, so you could not tape a video. I had to wait another 10 years before I saw the series again. Shocking, I know. But remember that the Internet would not be born until the mid-1990’s and the concept of streaming video was totally unknown.

On reflection, why did I like P&P 1980 so much when it originally aired, and does it still stand up to the litmus test for P&P adaptations?

Even though the BBC had produced radio and television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice in 1938, 1952, 1958 and 1967 this would be the first time that a US audience would see a television series of Jane Austen’s novel. Some of us had seen the 1940 MGM move of P&P staring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, but it was hardly faithful to the novel and was a two hour theatrical movie. Very little of Jane Austen’s original language had been used and let’s not even begin the conversation about the changes that were made. Now for the first time we could hear Austen’s words and see the plot unfold as she imagined it—well not word for word or scene by scene—but screenwriter Fay Weldon did adhere much more faithfully to Austen intensions than we had ever seen before, nor since. Here is a list of the cast and production team:

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet © 2004 BBC Worldwide

  • Elizabeth Bennet – Elizabeth Garvie
  • Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy – David Rintoul
  • Mr. Bennet – Moray Watson
  • Mrs. Bennet – Priscilla Morgan
  • Jane Bennet – Sabina Franklyn
  • Mary Bennet – Tessa Peake-Jones
  • Kitty Bennet – Clare Higgins
  • Lydia Bennet – Natalie Ogle
  • George Wickham – Peter Settelen
  • Mr. Collins – Malcolm Rennie
  • Charlotte Lucas – Irene Richard
  • Mr. Bingley – Osmund Bullock
  • Caroline Bingley – Marsha Fitzalan
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Judy Parfitt
  • Director – Cyril Coke

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Bennet  and George Wickham © 2004 BBC Worldwide

I will spare you the rehash of the synopsis and cut to the case. This adaptation flies freely by the strength of the screenplay and the interpretation by the director of the actors. They act like Regency era ladies and gentlemen and in the manner that Jane Austen intended. Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet is perfection. She is just as clever and impertinent as her book persona. If she has any defect it is that she is too perfect, appearing too controlled at every moment and not quite as spirited and flawed as one would expect. Her hero Mr. Darcy, portrayed by David Rintoul, is flawed, but that is his strength. He is stiff as a wooden solider, and we hate him until we meet him again at Pemberley two thirds through the story. But, his portrayal is as Austen wrote the character: noble, proud, arrogant, overconfident and infuriating. His transition to an open and engaging personality is a gradual shift which grows as his affection for Elizabeth does. His transformation from an arrogant prig to an amiable gentleman suitor for our heroine is a great character arch well worth waiting for.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Bennet © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Every director wants to put their own stamp on a classic. I cannot condemn Cyril Coke for taking his chance. He does not swerve off the garden path too far. There are two moments that are his creations that are memorable for me. The first was when Darcy hands Elizabeth the “be not alarmed, Madame,” letter after the first proposal. Elizabeth and Darcy meet along a path at Rosings Park and he hands her his letter. She accepts it and takes a seat on a fallen tree and reads it. We hear David Rintoul’s beautiful velvet voice, and perfect diction, as a voiceover as she reads the letter. As he walks away from her, the camera pulls back and follows him. As he gets father away we see both Elizabeth and Darcy in the frame become smaller and smaller. It is quite affective in relaying his presence and driving home the fact that as she reads his explanation of his behavior, and she has her “until this moment I never knew myself” revelation, we are left with the feeling that he has walked out of her life, and now how will she get him back?

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy © 2004 BBC Worldwide

The second great moment comes when Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are touring Pemberley. They think that Darcy is far away in Town. They are in a garden adjacent to the house and Elizabeth is admiring the facade and looks down to see Mr. Darcy’s dog appear around a corner of the building. His master soon follows and walks into the garden and is surprised to find Elizabeth at his home. They have an awkward meeting and Elizabeth is very uncomfortable. Now, Mr. Darcy does not have a dog in the original novel, but this addition of the well-trained spaniel, as proud and contained as his master, appearing as a foreshadowing to Elizabeth was brilliant.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Mr Collins © 2004 BBC Worldwide

The secondary characters really shine in this production too. Malcolm Rennie as Mr. Collins is just priceless. He is tall and toady and just the perfect smarmy buffoon. Peter Settelen  as George Wickham is such a handsome, charming cad that we want to love him like Elizabeth is tempted to do. There is a scene where he and Lizzy are walking in the garden and all I can concentrate on are his canary breeches! Judy Parfitt gives us an imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh that is quite younger than I had envisioned in the book, but still as imposing.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: David Rintoul as Mr Darcy © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Since the 1980 P&P aired there has been one major miniseries filmed in 1995 and a movie in 2005. Everyone has their favorite and I have this pet theory why Janeites love one version and abhor another. Everyone seems to bond with the first version that they see, so for those who love the 2005 Keira Knightley version with pigs in the Longbourn kitchen and Mr. Darcy walking across a misty morning glade to find Elizabeth in her nightgown, or the 1995 version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy taking a bath or a dip in Pemberley pond, think long and hard about what Jane Austen wrote about and what she wanted us to experience with her characters, and watch the 1980 version again.

And, what may you ask is the P&P litmus test? Why the first proposal scene of course. If the screenwriter, director, and actors can portray the misguided, passionate tension of Mr. Darcy and the cool indigence of Miss Eliza Bennet in Austen’s masterful scene as well as it unfolds in the 1980 version, then there is hope for the rest of the production.

5 out of 5 Regency StarsImage of the DVD cover of Pride and Prejudice 1980 © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Pride and Prejudice (1980)
BBC Worldwide (2004 re-issue)
DVD (226 minutes)
ASIN: B000244FDW

DVD cover and images courtesy of © 2004 BBC Worldwide; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Finale: Episodes 90-100

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

This week I am wrapping up my look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed watching these videos. They are light, bright and sparkling, just as Jane Austen describes Pride and Prejudice, yet they also have serious modern themes that are relevant today and make the story more accessible to younger generations.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bing and Jane © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Jane and Bing (Episodes 90-92 & 95)

Bing comes back. He and Jane get a fresh start, yet Lizzie is still unhappy that Jane hasn’t made him beg her to take him back. Bing does try to make amends by bringing Jane snicker-doodle cookies (like she made him right after they broke up). Before their relationship really gets underway again, Jane gets a job offer from New York. Bing finds out about the job offer from Lizzie’s videos and seems hurt that Jane didn’t tell him herself. She was trying to spare both of them the pain that would be cause if he asked her to stay, yet Bing doesn’t ask Jane to stay. Instead he asks if he can go with her. He confesses that he quit medical school several months ago because he was so unhappy, so he too is looking to make a fresh start in NYC.

After Jane and Bing  (Lydia calls them JING!) are happily settled in New York, Caroline (as a replacement for Lady Catherine in the novel) confronts Lizzie and accuses her of plotting to make Bing quit med school and runaway with Jane. Lizzie is shocked by these allegations but turns the tables on Caroline. Lizzie questions her about the “indiscretion” that Darcy saw at Bing’s birthday which caused Bing to break up with Jane in the first place. Caroline came up with a convoluted plan to have another guy kiss Jane right when Darcy was looking. This is what made Bing break up with Jane in the first place and it was all because of Caroline. Caroline also accuses Lizzie of trying to seduce Darcy. Lizzie baulks at this and says that, “Darcy is in charge of his own life and I am in change of mine.”  (It is these lines that give Darcy hope when he watches the videos).

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bing and Jane © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Lydia

Yet again Lizzie and Lydia have some adorable moments in these episodes. In episode 94 Lydia tells Lizzie that Darcy was responsible for the website publicizing the release of her private video with George Wickham being taken down. He bought the company that was releasing the video and shut it down. Lizzie can’t believe what Darcy did. Lydia is not as shocked and replied, “When you care about someone you will do anything for them whether they know or not because you can’t stand to see them hurt.” Lydia was hoping that George was the one who actually took the site down, but when she, “talked to some people,” she found out it was Darcy. Lydia hints that Darcy must still have feelings for Lizzie otherwise he would have no reason to go through all of the trouble of buying an entire company to taking down the video.

Lizzie and Lydia are continuing to get to know each other again. They are very sweet sisters. In episode 100 Lydia even gives Lizzie a new list called, “20 Reasons Why Lizzie Bennet Is No Longer Perpetually Single,” and says, “You are way to cool not to get any guy you want.”  There is a new understanding and appreciation between the sisters that is lovely to watch.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Darcy

After Lizzie finds out what Darcy did for Lydia, she decides to call his phone, yet she doesn’t hear from him for 3 days. He shows up at her house on her 25th birthday (March 18th), so he can see her face when he asks her, “Why did you call me?” Their whole interaction is so delightfully embarrassing. She thanks him from her whole family for taking that video down. In reply he says, “I did it only for you.” Darcy then tells Lizzie that he doesn’t want to be just friends and that his feeling are still the same, if not stronger. At that point Lizzie kisses him.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie Kiss © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

(YOU GO GIRL! Take control and get what you want! Amen to that. I applaud Lizzie for making the first move like that and going in for the kiss). Darcy and Lizzie (Dizzy as fans call them) proceed to kiss a lot more throughout the episode, and it is super adorable.

On Lizzie and Darcy’s one-week anniversary Darcy tries to hijack Lizzie’s videos but ends up being fairly awkward in front of the camera by himself. Darcy says that the week with Lizzie, “…has been the best week of my life.” He also says, (what the viewers already know), “My name is William Darcy, and Lizzie Bennet is amazing.” Lizzie teases him about the first time they met which was, “The most awkward dance ever!” While Lizzie seems to enjoy these memories of their early encounters, she also presses Darcy about when his feelings for her started to change. Darcy says, “I honestly can’t remember. I was in the middle before I knew it has begun.” Lizzie says her moment of realization came when she saw the beautiful offices of Pemberley Digital. These light banters are wonderful. They are straight from Jane Austen’s novel, yet they are in modern speech.

Darcy offer’s Lizzie a job at Pemberley, yet she turns him down. She has decided to start her own digital media company and wants to move to San Francisco after graduation. Darcy is supportive of her move and of her decision to start her own company. He even offers to help her find potential investors, even though her business will be competing with him. I am so thankful that Lizzie did not just go to work for Pemberley. That would have been a let down. Lizzie defends her decision by saying, “I don’t want to be the girl who dates the boss.” I applaud her spirit and her desire to make it on her own and I think Jane Austen would too!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Charlotte and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Charlotte

I am so pleased that the series does not end with Lizzie and Darcy. Rather Lizzie shares her 100th  and final episode with Charlotte and Lydia. As much as I love Darcy and Lizzie’s relationship, I love Lizzie’s relationship with her friend, sister and herself more. I think it was a very brave choice for the creators not to have Darcy in the last episode. It concludes the theme that has been running through the series; the relationship between sisters (whether by birth or choice) is one of the most important relationships in a person’s life. I agree completely and applaud The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for their focus on women and female relationships. It was also delightful to watch Lizzie grown emotionally throughout the course of the series. As she started to see her own flaws, and while she still sees the follies of others, she might judge them less harshly or quickly in the future.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Finale: cast at bar © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet DiariesThe girls’ faces are priceless in this picture

TWO SURPRISES AT THE END (Spoilers)

1st SURPRISE — At the very end of the 100th episode Mrs. Bennet walks into frame so the viewers can just see her torso and says, “Lizzie what are you and dear Charlotte doing in here?” It is an amazing moment since it has been a running joke through the series that Lizzie is trying to keep the videos from her mother.

2nd SURPRISE — As a little postscript after the final episode, the creators released some pictures on twitter of Lizzie, Darcy, Charlotte, Lydia and Ricky Collins hanging out at a bar celebrating Charlotte’s promotion and Ricky’s move to Canada to be with his fiancé. I am glad Mr. Collins makes one final appearance because he is just a fabulous character.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Finale: Lydia, Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

AWESOME LINKS

A giant thank you to Virginia for her insightful and passionate commentary on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for the last eleven weeks. What a great series. We are looking forward to the production company’s next venture that was announced with a Kickstarter fundraiser:

Welcome to Sanditon

Based on one of Jane Austen’s unfinished novels, Welcome To Sanditon will be a full interactive experience that takes you to the beach town of Sanditon, California as it attempts to revitalize itself into a modern resort destination.

Through Gigi’s videos, you’ll meet the residents of Sanditon as she brings the beta version of Domino to reveal the drama in their lives.  But we’re not stopping there.

In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you got to interact with the story.  In Welcome To Sanditon, we’re taking things one step further —  you’ll get a chance to be a part of the story.

We’re busy putting the town together now, and will reveal more details soon.

Welcome to Sanditon will launch in early May 2013.

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington, Austenprose

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 85-89 and Domino Videos

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episode 85 Consequences © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

This week on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I will be looking at episodes 85-89 and Gigi’s Domino videos. There was just too much to get through with the Lydia storyline to add in Jane and Bing, so I will save that for next week. These are emotionally packed videos, though a lot of the action happens off stage like it does in Pride and Prejudice.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia discovers George's video © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Lydia

Lizzie rushes home from her internship at Pemberley Digital, Darcy’s Company, when Charlotte tells her about Lydia and George Wickham’s website. George videoed an intimate encounter between he and Lydia and sold it to a distribution company. The website was advertising the count-down to the release of the video. When Lizzie arrives home she thinks that Lydia knows about the website. It is only after she confronts Lydia that she reveals she had no idea about the site. Lydia stares at the website in horror and disbelief. She just keeps repeating, “This is a joke right?” Yet Lizzie knows it is no joke. George sold the tape without Lydia’s knowledge and never returns any of Lydia’s text, calls or tweets.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and George video © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 400

A main theme from this week’s videos is Lizzie and Lydia’s coming to terms with each other. Episode 87 makes me tear up every time I watch it. It is really wonderful, though it strays from Jane Austen’s original text which does not give Lydia and Elizabeth a chance at reconciliation. When Lydia returns home, she is gloating over her marriage to Wickham and pretends that her elopement was not scandalous. The fact that George abandons Lydia in The LBD is perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Lydia. It allows her to go back to her family instead of her remaining in his clutches.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie sad © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

In later episodes Lizzie blames herself for this fiasco. She thinks she could have prevented it if she would have just talked to Lydia or been there for her. Yet in episode 85, she acknowledges George’s power over people when she says, “George has a history of convincing smart women to do dumb things.” I think this is a direct reference to Gigi, but it might also be an indirect reference to herself. George helped to convince her that Darcy was rude, and spiteful. Lizzie and the viewers can see George’s power to manipulate women when we looks at how he treated Gigi, Lizzie, and Lydia.

Lydia was vulnerable to George. She fell for him hard and quickly. She believed that he loved her, and to prove her love to him she let him film them. She was cut her off from her normal source of support (her sisters), which made her dependent on him. Lydia is devastated by George’s betrayal and questions her own self worth.  She says, “If he is all bad then what does that say about me?” Lizzie consoles her by saying, “You don’t deserve awful things to happen to you because you trusted someone who was there for you when no one else was.Episode 87. These are powerful lines and really show Lizzie’s compassion for her sister. She doesn’t blame Lydia, but herself for not being there when Lydia needed her.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie console one another © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie proves that she is there for Lydia and apologies for not “really seeing her” before. Both sisters admit that they have been rather consumed with themselves and neglected their relationship with each other. This makes The LBD stand out from the novel by focusing on sisterly relationships. Lizzie and Lydia do reconcile in The LBD. In one of the most touching moments from the series, Lizzie hugs Lydia and cradles her in her arms saying, “I love you… I love you… You are not alone.”

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gigi, Domino videos © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Domino Videos

Domino is a new communication application that is being developed by Darcy’s company, Pemberley Digital. Gigi Darcy (Darcy’s sister) does “test videos” to check out Domino’s features. Domino is suppose to be a “life revealing application.” The application can call by phone and video a conversation. The system is also suppose to auto-edit, auto-update and auto-upload the demo videos. In describing the Domino, Hank Green says, “Domino may be a fairly weird application in real-life terms, but it totally kicks ass for the purposes of this show in terms of giving us unedited real-time conversations that otherwise have no business being shared.” I think he is right. Domino might seems a little far-fetched, with its self editing videos and such, but I think it is mainly a plot device so that the application will auto update the videos even if Gigi does not want all of the information on the internet.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: George and Gigi on Domino © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Domino videos are interesting because they let us see more of Gigi, Fitz, and Darcy, and we get a glimpse into what they are doing to find George Wickham and take down the site. The videos are vague about how Darcy and Fitz are trying to take down the site, but we do know that they are working on it. Gigi also gets to play a role because she is the one who calls George and gets him to answer the phone and use Domino (thus download the app and accepting the terms and conditions which allows Darcy track him). We don’t exactly know how Darcy found him, or what they said to each other when Darcy confronted him, BUT I don’t think there were many nice words exchanged. Here are some of the tweets between Gigi and Fitz about the search for George

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Jane and Lizzie drink tea © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Jane Through It All

Jane is a wonderful support for both of her sisters throughout these videos. She comforts them and brings them tea saying, “Everyone deserves tea.” Her sweetness and astuteness really show how much she loves her sisters and how well she knows them. Jane truly is wise when she says, “It not about doing anything. Its just about being here and her knowing that she doesn’t have to go through any of this alone.” The sisters are there to remind Lydia that she doesn’t have to face the world alone. After the video comes down, Lizzie finally admits to Jane that she saw Bing when she was at Pemberley (but more on that next week).

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie reconciled © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

THE VIDEO COMES DOWN

When the video is removed from the website in episode 88, Lizzie and Lydia are both grateful and thank whoever took the video down. They also apologize to each other. Lizzie says, “I am sorry I didn’t really know you.” and Lydia says, “I didn’t really let you.” Both sisters acknowledge their mistakes and move forward with their relationship.

These are the most serious videos in the series. They are also some of the most moving and most heartfelt because it is through adversity that the sisters begin to see each other in a new light. Though these episodes also stray from the novel, I think they stray in a way that makes the story stronger. Lydia is no longer a throw away character. The viewers have come to know and love Lydia’s much more in The LBD than the readers ever did in Pride and Prejudice. This investment in the character development is not wasted because Lydia is allowed to change and grow.

Next week I will be looking at episodes 92-100! I can’t believe the series is really over!

Don’t forget to check out the LBD Kickstart. They have some fabulous perks, and we want them to keep up the great work!

AWESOME LINKS

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 77-84

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

There are only 8 videos this week of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but they are packed full of important information and plot developments. Here are some of the highlights and my take on them from these episodes.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gigi and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Meeting Gigi Darcy:

Gigi Darcy, played by Allison Paige, is a pretty big departure from her character in Pride and Prejudice. In the novel Georgiana is EXTREMELY shy. In the LBD Gigi isn’t shy at all. She is fun and outgoing, even if a little inexperienced.  She becomes a tour guide for the day to show Lizzie around and then seems to be confused by the fact that she can’t leave a school group roaming around Pemberley Digital by themselves. Yet it is clear that she likes Lizzie and wants to be friends with her. I love that Gigi seeks out Lizzie and watches her videos. Lizzie is a little hesitant about Gigi since she is Darcy’s sister, but the two do get along well from the very beginning.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Darcy Meeting:

I am biased, but this is my favorite video in the series. The meeting at Pemberley is one my favorite chapters in the novel also because that scene is so perfectly awkward in my eyes that it makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. So little is said, as described by Jane Austen, and no lines are actually given between Lizzie and Darcy, yet every reader fills in the lines for themselves.

“As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.

They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.

She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome.” (chapter 43)

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The LBD version of the meeting at Pemberley Digital is equally delightful and uncomfortable, but in different ways. Gigi instigates the meeting instead of it happening by chance. I see why the creators did this. Perhaps it was so that it could more easily happen on camera. Perhaps they wanted Gigi to take a more active role in brining the couple together. Either way—I like it. Gigi‘s scheming is good-natured and well meaning. She seems to know her brother and Lizzie better than they know themselves because she sees that they are compatible. Gigi is able to give Lizzie and Darcy a second chance at getting to know each other and seeing each other in a better light. Gigi also seems to have a partner in crime for her scheming… Fitz! Check out their tweets to each other. They are adorable.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bing and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Bing–Boring—Lee:

Bing and Lizzie have some AWKWARD conversations. She seems semi-hostile to him and he seems like a sad puppy that is looking for some sort of consolation. Either way this is not my favorite part of the series. Bing also looks like he has been constantly crying because his eyes look red. Lizzie makes the remark “he is a med student… shouldn’t he be in class at least some of the time?” Overall I was totally bored by the Bing videos especially when compared to the other videos from this section. Bing without Jane=Dull… he should figure that out SOON.

Gigi’s Story:

Gigi decides to tell Lizzie what happened with George Wickham on the videos. Lizzie tells her she doesn’t have to, but Gigi insists. Wickham took advantage of Gigi when she was in school and became her swim coach. They started a relationship and Wickham moved in with her. Wickham’s motives seem to have been revenge on Darcy and to get money from him, or at least to mooch off Gigi for a while.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gigi and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This is a particularly powerful episode since the story comes from Gigi herself instead of from her brother. Gigi explains her vulnerability when she says, “He said he needed me.” She was doped by George and taken in by his lies and promises. She dreamed that George really loved her and that she could convince her brother that their love was real. Darcy proved her wrong when George left so easily because of a check from Darcy. Gigi says she was drawn to Lizzie because nothing she said about Darcy comes close to what she has said about him to his face. She ends her story by telling Lizzie, “He [Darcy] really takes care of those that he cares about.” Gigi gives us a new perspective on Darcy and on George so that we can begin to see both of their true characters.

Lizzie and Darcy Development:

Lizzie, Darcy and Gigi spend the weekend sightseeing in San Francisco, and while there isn’t a video blog about their exploits there are their tweets!

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: San Francisco montage © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship seems to blossom while she is visiting Pemberley, but since she knows he and sister watch the videos, she does not give much personal feedback on how she is feeling about their changing relationship. I understand why she couldn’t/wouldn’t post a video with commentary about her time at Pemberley and her actual thoughts about Darcy and Gigi, but I do wish we could have a little more.

Lizzie interviews Darcy, as the head of Pemberley, about his company, but he actually turns the conversation to be about her video diaries. He complements them and Lizzie. Then they have an interesting discussion about the costume theater and whether it is mocking or not. Both Lizzie and Darcy say that they have been too quick to judge others, and they are now trying to see things from other people’s perspective. This is a wonderful video that shows both Lizzie and Darcy’s growth and how they are becoming more comfortable with each other. Darcy REALLY lightens up when he impersonates Fitz in the costume theater. It is wonderful!

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Bad News:

And then to the bad news… Lizzie gets a new phone because her old one has been messing up so much, so she has not been able to talk to Charlotte for a day or so. When her new phone finally finishes authorizing she sees that she has 7 missed calls from Charlotte. Darcy is with her because he came to ask her to the theater that night for a date. She says she would be happy to go… BUT, then she gets the news about Lydia. She had no idea Lydia was dating George because she has not been watching her videos and has not talked to her sister since Christmas. Lizzie blames herself. She says, “I could have prevented this.” She is upset and frazzled, but Darcy steps in and tries to calm her down. He is level headed and offers to get her home right away and to send her stuff along after she leaves. Lizzie is grateful and says thanks, but she does seem very uncertain of what the future holds.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Overall the Pemberley episodes are my favorite. We meet Gigi who is a wonderful addition and a great modern take on the character of Georgiana. We see Lizzie and Darcy getting to know each other again and starting to like each other, and we see how they handle themselves in a crisis. We can really see the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzie in these videos since they are together so much more. There are several episodes where they both look at each other and the looks on their faces are just BRILLIANT!!!

Next Week, episodes 85-92, and Gigi’s Domino Videos

Awesome Links:

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington

A Closer Look at The Lydia Bennet Videos Episodes 1-29

Image from The Lydia Bennet Videos: Lydia Bennet

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

We have been taking a closer look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries over the past few weeks. Lizzie has two sisters in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice: Jane and Lydia. While Lizzie is the main character of the novel, and this new series, her wild and outrageous younger sister Lydia often steals the show—so much so that she started her own spinoff videos. Today we will focus on LEE DEE YA and her own The Lydia Bennet Videos!

Lydia Bennet in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is one of the biggest deviations from the novel, and I think it is one of the reasons why the series seems so modern and original. Lydia shows up in Lizzie videos frequently, but it is through her own videos that we really get to see her development and spiral to be under Wickham’s control.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries gives a much more sympathetic look at Lydia because we get to know her so much better than we do in the book; we see more of her mistakes, and (spoilers) she is able to redeem herself in the end.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia Bennet

Mary Kate Wiles plays a wonderful Lydia Bennet. She was actually the first part the producers cast. I am so glad that Mary Kate got Lydia because she brought such energy and vitality to that role in the beginning and we are totally drawn in when we witness her decline. Rachel Kiley was the writer who did most, if not all, of the Lydia Bennet videos, and I think she did an amazing job. The writing of Lydia and Wickham’s relationship I find particularly terrifying because it seems so true to life.

Storyline for The Lydia Bennet Videos:

Lydia’s videos are much more scattered than Lizzie’s because they start and stop depending on when Lizzie is out of town. Here are some highlights though through the videos:

Image from The Lydia Bennet Videos: Jane and Lydia Bennet

  • Lydia goes to stay with her cousin Mary when the girls are at Netherfield.
  • Lydia gets even with some girls who were making fun of Mary.
  • When Lydia returns home, she continues to hang out with Mary because she is helping her study for her exams
  • Lydia starts skipping class more to go hang out with Mary.
  • Lydia runs off to LA to go see Jane and skips a lot of class.
  • Lydia and Mary get in a fight when she discovers that Mrs. Bennet has been paying Mary to tutor her, resulting in Lydia ditching Mary.
  • The girls come home for Thanksgiving and Lydia takes a break from making videos because Lizzie is home.

The next group of videos involves Lydia and Lizzie’s fight after Lydia’s birthday. Lydia takes Lizzie’s birthday gift as a criticism of her life choices and she freaks out on Lizzie. Both sisters are stubborn and refuse to apologize thus giving the Christmas videos a lot of tension. Lydia posts a video to Lizzie called “Dear Lizzie Video” where she talks about how lame Lizzie is and how Lizzie needs to get a life. It is a pretty mean spirited video and Lizzie doesn’t like it at all. Lydia then goes to Vegas for New Years with her friends because she wants to be around fun people and not lame people like Lizzie. Yet even when she is in Vegas “partying it up” she is still fixated on Lizzie because many of her videos are rants against her. George Wickham and Lydia meet in Vegas though we only hear about this later when he says, “After what I did for you in Vegas?” It is never clear what Wickham did for her, but they do talk about kissing on New Year’s.

Clip of The Lydia Bennet Videos: Lydia in Las Vegas

Wickham is back in town and Lydia starts hanging out with him a lot more. Even though they are in a new relationship and are just starting to hang out they still seem to be fixated on Lizzie. He talks about her and, “to her through the camera” several times. This is really where we begin to see the darker side of Wickham because he seems to be doing this to get back at Lizzie. He starts manipulating Lydia very early on. It is also clear that there relationship is moving very fast because Lydia has been spending so much time at Wickham’s apartment and spending the night. George seems to be being a gentleman and loving on Lydia just so he can break through her comfort zone and make her dependent on him.

Image from Lydia Bennet Videos: Lydia and George

I actually found it hard to watch Lydia’s last videos. I think speaks to the powerful writing and acting. We all know the story. We know what is coming for Lydia, so it is hard to watch her be so happy only to know that it will be snatched away from her very shortly. George and Lydia fight only to have him tell her that he loves her. The he realizes that it was the first time he said it and that it was on the videos. This seems to be obvious manipulation on Wickham’s part because he is trying to control Lydia and make her fall deeply in love with him.

Image from The Lydia Bennet Videos: Lydia and George

Lydia’s last video is the saddest of all. She is talking about how much she loves George and how happy she is to be with him while all the time looking sad and alone. George has isolated Lydia even more than her fight with Lizzie did. Lydia use to love her family and her sisters but now she doesn’t care what they think about her relationship with George. She is under the misguided impression that George “puts her first.” She says she will do anything for him. She struggles with the idea of “real love” and “family love.”

Lydia, who has always seemed so self-confident and fun, now says, “I feel good enough good enough for somebody for once… Is that weird… it is really nice.” There is no more heartbreaking line in the entire series. Lydia’s vulnerability here is so evident and yet she also just seems like a normal teen trying to figure out true love. It makes me so sad to think that the LEE-DEE-YA from LBD episode 20 has become this Lydia.

Image from The Lydia Bennet Videos: George Wickham

There is redemption for Lydia. I think this is the biggest difference between LBD and the novel. We have not watched the episodes yet, but if you don’t already know instead of running off with Wickham, he makes a sex tape and sells it to a company who will release it. I will talk more about this next week, but I do want to mention that unlike the novel Lydia is redeemed because she breaks from Wickham, has remorse for what she did/let him do, and starts to put her life back together with the help of her family. In the novel Lydia seems like a lost cause. She is still devoted to Wickham in the final chapters and we want to ring her neck for it. In the LBD Lydia’s tryst with Wickham causes her to see her mistakes. She learns about his betrayal and that she must really rely on herself and her family for support instead of him. Lydia has always struck me as the type of person who gets her happiness from other people. I think she learns in later episodes that she must get her happiness from within herself, and while this will be a learning process for Lydia, I think she is capable of it.

Image from The Lydia Bennet Videos: Lydia and George

The Lydia Bennet Videos are truly a rollercoaster of emotion because they start out so fun and light hearted, but Wickham sends Lydia into a very dark place. I think this Lydia Bennet will rise up from that place though and will be an even stronger and smarter woman, though I don’t know if she will keep her same exuberance as she did in the early episodes.

Next week I will be talking about Episodes 77-85 of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

A Few Announcements:

  1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are officially DONE! TEARS, WEEPING, and NASHING OF TEETH, ENSUE. The final episode was yesterday, and all I must say is that it did not disappoint. WELL DONE and THANK YOU to everyone involved.
  2. Sanditon, Jane Austen final unfinished novel is going to be the next mini adaptation that the team does. I am very intrigued by this project because I don’t think there has ever been an adaptation of Sanditon. Gigi Darcy will play a role in it and she is one of my favorite characters from the original series.
  3. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries started a Kickstart campaign to raise money for the DVD’s, the new mini-series — Sanditon, and to pay the actors, writers and creators royalties since they have been working for very little pay on the first series. As of Tuesday, the Kickstart campaign has raised almost $300,000 and has had about 4,500 contributors. This shows you the devotion of the fans to the LBD and the stories they will be creating in the future. There are lots of great incentives for those willing to give. The creators also announced that they are coming out with a special edition of Pride and Prejudice along with the DVD.

Awesome Links:

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 67-76

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie Bennet © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington:

This week on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Lizzie comes home from Collins & Collins and celebrates the holidays. Episodes 67-76 don’t introduce any new characters (though we do see Mary from Lydia’s videos in Lizzie’s videos for the first time), but there is significant character development of Lizzie, Jane and Lydia. The girls catch up on news from Jane, like that she never heard from Bing when she was in LA, and Charlotte tries to get Lizzie to explain more of what was in Darcy’s letter. Lizzie does do a “story time” where she talks about Darcy and Wickham and how Wickham squandered all his money for college in one year, but she does not mention Gigi at all. Lydia then takes over Lizzie’s vlog while she is in the library studying for exams. Lydia says that the girl’s “summer friends” (Darcy, Caroline and Bing) have “toes filled our lives with drama and annoyance” (Episode 69). She “liked it so much better when it was just you and me and Lizzie and Charlotte and Mary.” Lydia shows her love for her sisters when she says, “It’s almost New Years and that means new people and new places and new super fun times. No more anx’ and drama and stupid people who don’t matter.” While Lydia remains vivacious and lively, this is a slightly more serious side of Lydia because she seems lonely and to be looking out for her sisters and wishing that they could go back to the way they were before Lizzie started her vlog. Lydia says, “We work best just us.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Charlotte and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This, new side of Lydia, is contrasted later by the fight that she and Lizzie get in after her birthday party extravaganza.  Lizzie gives Lydia a book as a birthday present called Where Did I Park My Car? A Party Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Successful Adult. Lydia is really hurt by Lizzie’s gift when she realizes that it isn’t a joke. Lydia sees the gift as a condemnation from Lizzie of Lydia’s behavior. Lydia thinks that Lizzie has been influenced in her opinion of Lydia’s actions by Darcy and Caroline and their criticism of Lydia. While Lydia might have a point she seems to be blowing this out of proportion in Lizzie’s eyes and continues to hold a grudge against Lizzie. This will be one of the factors that drives Lydia into the arms of George Wickham.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The girls celebrate Christmas and New Years where Lizzie makes a New Years resolution. She wants to “find out where I am suppose to be” (Episode 76). It is a New Year and a new Lizzie. While I like the old Lizzie just fine, I do think she is growing and changing to become an even brighter, smarter and funnier woman. Lydia is off to Vegas to celebrate the New Year and though the sister are fighting, Lizzie confesses that she is hard on Lydia but that is because she does not want Lydia to make bad decisions and get hurt by the world. As we will soon find out Lizzie’s protection can only go so far.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie ends by saying that she is taking a week off vloging so she can get ready for her trip to go shadow Pemberley Digital. Then she says “Why does that sounds so familiar?” (I don’t know Lizzie but you are going to be in for heck of a shock when you find out)

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Charlotte, Lizzie and Jane © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Narrative Voice of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This is a topic that I have been pondering for a while, narrative voice the LBD v Pride and Prejudice. Having Lizzie narrate the videos gives an interesting twist on the story since in the novel there is a 3rd person narrator most of the time, yet sometimes the reader does get Lizzie’s free indirect discourse where we follow her train of thoughts as if it was narration. Jane Austen was an early writer to experiment with free indirect discourse so it is wonderful to see the vlogs experimenting with this type of narration compared to other adaptations.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie Bennet © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Free indirect discourse involves both a character’s speech and the narrator’s comments. What distinguishes free indirect speech from normal indirect speech is the lack of an introductory expression such as “He said” or “he thought.” Free indirect discourse can also be described, as a “Technique of presenting a character’s voice partly mediated by the voice of the author, or, the character speaks through the voice of the narrator, and the two instances then are merged.”

Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend’s marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almost incredible! (Pride and Prejudice chapter 34)

This seems to me to be what The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are when Lizzie looks directly at the camera and tells us her thoughts and feeling. We lose the boundary between narration and her thoughts. This is so interesting because the free indirect discourse is what almost every other adaptation lacks. The 1980s version comes as close as any when it did a voice over for Elizabeth saying, “till the moment I never knew myself”.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet © 2004 BBC Worldwide

All the other versions require dialogue or facial expressions for the viewer to see how Lizzie feels. With The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lizzie tells us exactly how she is feeling and what she is thinking. While this isn’t exactly free indirect discourse, because Lizzie is speaking to the camera, it is as close as I have ever seen in an adaptation. This is one thing that makes The LBD so unique and actually so like the book.

Next week I am going to focus on the Lydia Bennet Diaries before going back to look at Lizzie’s videos. We need to see her relationship with Wickham progress. ENJOY!

Favorite Quotes of the Week:

  • Is that a Darcyism?” – When Lizzie thinks she might have quoted Darcy (Episode 68)
  • We work best… Just us.” – Lydia talking about her sisters (Episode 69)
  • Yeah 21! And we are going to go out and celebrate your 21st the American way… by going to a bar and getting card and showing your real ID for once.” – Lizzie talking about Lydia’s birthday (Episode 71)
  • Stain in all colors, a small fire out back that was luckily put out before it burned anything other than a shrub and someone keeps spiking volleyballs at the garden gnomes.” – Lizzie describing the insanity of Lydia’s Birthday Party (Episode 72)

Awesome Links:

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 51-66

Image from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie and Darcy porposal scene

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

This week I will be looking at episodes 51-66 of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries starting with Lizzie’s life while she is visiting Collins and Collins. We get to meet several knew characters and get to see some of the most beloved ones in a new setting. Did I also mention that we get to see DARCY for the first time!

Lizzie goes to visit Charlotte at Collins and Collins. She meets Lady Catherine and her dog Annie Kins (though we never get to see Lady Catherine we just see Lizzie’s impressions of her). We also get to meet one of my favorite characters in the novel and in the series, Fitz, who comes with Darcy to look at Collins and Collins and give Lady Catherine a report on its progress. Darcy finally shows up in the videos and tells Lizzie he loves her. She flatly rejects him and tells him off for his rude behavior towards her and others and she also tells him to watch her videos. He returns later with a letter and having watched videos. Lizzie reads the letter but refuses to share its contents even with Caroline who comes trying to snoop and find out what is in the letter. Lizzie and Charlotte face off against Caroline and call her out for her manipulation of Bing. Collins flits in and out of several episodes mostly causing havoc by making Charlotte dress as a condiment or trying to make Charlotte work over Thanksgiving. By the end of these episodes Lizzie is ready to go home because home would probably be less stressful. In episode 62 Lizzie says, “This is definitely messing with my world view. Its like I don’t know myself anymore” (I consider this line akin to Austen’s “Till this moment, I never knew myself.” It is the turning point in the book for Elizabeth’s character)

Here are some highlights from Episodes 51-66:

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Fitz and Lizzie care package

We meet Fitz:

Colonel Fitzwilliam is one of my favorite characters from the novels. I have always had a crush on him because I found him to be so much nicer than his cousin. In some alternative universe I really think he and Lizzie would work out (even though he is a younger son and has no money).

In the alternative universe of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries Fitz (Craig Frank) and Lizzie can’t work out as a couple because he is gay. I think this modernization is BRILLIANT because it allows Fitz and Lizzie to be good friends, but it is known from the start that they will never be more than friends. Fitz in the LBD is a smart and well-established business executive (he can see two bridges from his corner office) but he is also super fun. I automatically want to be his friend and so does Lizzie. Lizzie wonders why Darcy can have such nice friends when he is so cold and stiff. Fitz explains “The guy doesn’t always make the best first impression, and he has the social skills of an agoraphobic lobster.” (episode 56).  Fitz does a fabulous impression of haughty Darcy and really enjoys goofing off on the videos. He says “Well what is life if you cant have a little fun? Am I right Lizzie B? You know you should meet Gigi… because she is a cool kid and I think you too will like each other” (episode 56). Fitz seems to be a nice guy who cares about his friends and has his head on straight yet a guy who can also loosen up and have a lot of fun.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Annie Kins

Catherine de Bourgh and Annie Kins

I hate that we never to get see Catherine de Bourgh but Lizzie’s impressions of her make up for this loss. Her daughter Anne is transformed into a snaggletooth, asthmatic dog named Annie Kins that Catherine dotes on. Mr. Collins prepares Lizzie for dining with Catherine de Bourgh by giving her a long list of dos and don’ts and by telling her “so if you will simply choose the least offensive outfit you have brought along with you, I am certain that will be more than satisfactory.” (episode 53). Catherine still tries to but into everyone’s conversations and adores Caroline Lee for her accomplishments even though it is unclear what Caroline does or if she even has a job or goes to school.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: staff spirit costumes

Charlotte and Mr. Collins Dressed as condiments

Mr. Collins is full of hair-brained ideas about improving the company morale. One if his ideas involves a “spirit week” of sorts culminating in a Halloween party where he and Charlotte dress up as condiments. Seeing Charlotte as a giant ketchup bottle is pretty amusing, but Mr. Collins as a giant mustard bottle takes the cake. His sincerity and seriousness make him even funnier. Collins tries to make Lizzie come to the party but Charlotte steps in and shows her control and handling of him. Mr. Collins might be the head of the company but Charlotte is the neck and she can turn the head anyway she chooses.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: proposal scene

Darcy:

Darcy, Darcy, Darcy… everyone freaks out when Darcy is finally shown. Not this girl. I am going to try and keep my talk of Darcy to a minimum for several reasons:

  1. We don’t see that much of him.
  2. I don’t like Darcy Hype.
  3.  He does come off as a pretty big jerk.
  4.  I agree with Lizzie about him.

The viewership of the Darcy episode almost doubled compared to other episodes. Episode 60 (where we first see his face) has had over 466,000 views. Don’t get me wrong– he will improve, and I do think the writing on his episode is fantastic; I just hate Darcy hype. These are called the LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES and that is who the story is about, so I applaud the writers and creators for putting off introducing Darcy till 3/5 of the way through the series.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: DarcyBot

Ok, now on to Darcy. Daniel Vincent Gordh plays Darcy and does a very good job. He comes off as haughty and austere early on but does loosen up in later episodes. The writing for the proposal episode is a wonderful modernization of the scene from the book. I was worried that they would stray too much from the novel in his insults to Lizzie or that they wouldn’t have him insult her, but they did. Darcy says “I have been fighting against this for months now but Lizzie Bennet I am in love with you… I cant believe it either; that my heart can completely overwhelm my judgment.” Lizzie responds, “I hope that your judgment can be some solace in your rejection because those feelings are not mutual.” (Episode 60) In his video about the episode, one of the creators of the series Hank Green talks about how much effort and time went into writing this episode because they knew it was so important. Hank and his wife Katherine had a lot of input into who they chose for Darcy and the scene. Overall I applaud the series portrayal of Darcy because he does come off as a pretty big jerk at first and then starts to soften so that maybe you think he is just super awkward instead of a jerk. I could also do without the suspenders and skinny jeans, but I see why they did it.

Darcy hand writes and wax seals his letter to Lizzie, which is pretty cute and shows his quaintness. I thought they might do his letter as an email but I like that Darcy hand writes it and says that sometimes he has trouble expressing himself in words so he has to write things down. I think this is just the beginning of Darcy opening up. He also watches Lizzie’s videos because she tells him about them. He says, they were “illumining… you called me a robot and a newsie.” (Episode 62)

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Caroline v Lizzie and Charlotte

Lizzie and Charlotte v Caroline

Caroline Lee shows up to try and see what was in the letter. Charlotte and Lizzie question her motives in befriending Lizzie and helping Lizzie with her videos since Caroline hasn’t spoken to Lizzie since they left. This betrayal by Caroline seems worse than in the book because in the book Lizzie never thought that Caroline was her friend. The fact that Lizzie and Jane are both hurt by Caroline’s lack of communication with them shows Lizzie’s vulnerability in a new way. Caroline comes off as manipulating, conniving and superficial. The nicest thing I can say about her is that she has great hair. Lizzie and Charlotte call Caroline out for her behavior, and I say, “You go GRILS!” If only Lizzie got to tell Mrs. Bingley off like that in the books. I think it would be very therapeutic to her.

I am leaving out Lydia’s videos from this weeks article because I want to be able to do them justice in an article all to themselves.

Next Week 67-76

Favorite Quotes of the Week

If Lydia ends up with in anyway involved with someone who traces back to Darcy I swear I am going to steal a plane and crash land onto a desert island. I can totally survive on coconut and crabs… assuming there is wifi.” (Lizzie in episode 54)

He is like a robot with buggy programing for social interaction”– “Darcy- bot Malfunction” (Lizzie on Darcy in episode 55)

He was probably just looking for an air conditioned place to drink his probiotic hemp latte”- (Lizzie guessing why Darcy keeps stopping by to see her in episode 57)

I am pretty sure the guy read Tolstoy for you

Even if that is true the virtues of reading Russian literature are far out weighted by the fact that he disinherited George. Oh yeah and he broke up Bing and Jane” (Charlotte and Lizzie talking about Darcy in episode 61)

You should see the texts I have been getting from Lydia about this OMG… WTF… WHATEVS… YOLO… FTS… PQZ!!!!” (Lizzie talking about Lydia’s reaction in episode 62)

Awesome Links:

“If you are in the Raleigh, North Carolina area this weekend please join JASNA NC for a discussion of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The talk will be held on Sunday March 17th at 2:00 at the Cameron Village Regional Library. Virginia Claire Tharrington will be showing clips and leading a discussion about the adaptation. We would love to see you there. Thanks VC”

Images courtesy © The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 2012; text © Virginia Claire Tharrington 2013