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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A new fan site devoted to P&P and LBD – They will be hosting extensive discussion groups about comparing LBD and P&P over the summer. I have already signed up!!
- Reasons why Lizzie Bennet is Perpetually Single
- Mary Kate Wiles Chats with the LBD Seahorses
- Hypable’s Interview with Mary Kate Wiles
- Watch The Lydia Bennet Videos
- Watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
- Visit our The Lizzie Bennet Diaries archives
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington