I have a small Jane Austen obsession. I trace it back to high school…where I may have been part-organizer of several Jane Austen movie marathons amongst friends. During which we repeatedly rewinded an re-watched the scene where Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy jumped into Pemberley’s lake.
But, I am unapologetic about my love for all things Jane Austen. I mean, really, can’t I be a feminist and love Mr. Darcy too?
I can’t be too crazy though because Jane Austen is all the rage (and has been for quite some time) in popular culture, even 200 years after Pride and Prejudice’s publication. There are countless adaptations of her works for the big and small screen, novels that imagine alternate interpretations of Austen’s characters and plots, Jane Austen jewelry, cookbooks, handbooks, clothing, crochet patterns, and the list goes on and on.
I mean, all you have to do is search Pinterest for “Jane Austen” or “Mr. Darcy.” For example, look at this little gem I found:
And now there is something amazing and awesome called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”
Last Spring, while my brain was focused on finishing my Master’s thesis, Hank Green and Bernie Su had the ridiculously brilliant idea of bringing Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into the 21st century. I don’t know how I missed out on the beginning of this really cool series of web-videos, but I did. Luckily, though, I came across it a few months ago by accident and was quickly all caught up on the 81 episodes that have been produced so far.
So, what is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries?
It is one of an increasingly prolific number of web-based series that are dominating the internet, and being made available on YouTube and other web video streaming sites.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries takes Jane Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet out of 19th century England and transforms her into a 24 year old communications graduate student who video blogs about her life. Just like in Jane Austen’s novel, Lizzie interacts (on and off camera) with Pride and Prejudice’s other characters and the storyline of the videos follow (with some mostly minor differences) the plot of the novel.
What makes the series even better though is the interactive nature that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has taken on as the series has progressed. Now, most characters have Twitter accounts that they regularly update and whose posts flesh out more of the story. There’s also a Facebook page and a Tumblr account. Fan interaction is also appreciated.
There are some differences (as can be expected) in characters and the set up of locations and premises. But, these changes only serve to enhance the series.
Here’s a guide to some of the changes:
Characters (What’s the Same and What’s Different):
- Elizabeth Bennet — Elizabeth is Lizzie Bennet. As stated above, she’s a 24 year old grad student studying communications and living at home with her parents. In this adaptation, she only has 2 sisters: Jane and Lydia.
- Fitzwilliam Darcy — For all intents and purposes, Mr. Darcy is still Mr. Darcy. Except now, he’s just William Darcy. He’s wealthy, he’s powerful, he’s proud, he’s shy, and he’s still in love with Elizabeth.
- Charles Bingley — Mr. Bingley is now Bing Lee. Still an adorable lovey dovey guy, Bing is still easily led by Caroline and Darcy. Just like in the novel, he loves Jane but leaves her.
- Jane Bennet — Still Jane Bennet. Still the oldest Bennet sister, very sweet and kind, very close to Lizzie. Still in love with Bingley (Bing Lee). Loves fashion.
- Lydia Bennet — Lydia is Lydia, what can I say? Immature and boy crazy.
- Charlotte Lucas — Lizzie’s best friend is now Charlotte Lu who not only is Lizzie’s partner in crime, but also her partner in filming her video blog posts. She is closer in age to Lizzie than in the novel where she’s 7 years older.
- Caroline Bingley – Miss Bingley is now Caroline Lee. Somewhat nicer than in the novel, Caroline is great comic relief. But she’s still up to no good when it comes to her brother and Jane and Lizzie and Darcy.
- Mr. Collins — Mr. Collins is now Ricky Collins, a childhood acquaintance of Lizzie and Charlotte, who ironically refers to himself as “Mr. Collins.” Though not a minister like in the novel, he still is under the spell of Ms. de Bourgh who runs the venture capital firm he works for.
- George Wickham — Wickham is still Wickham. I think that pretty much sums it up.
- Colonel Fitzwilliam — No longer Darcy’s cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam is now Fitz Williams, Darcy’s nice and fun friend who gets to know Lizzie.
- Georgiana Darcy — Mr. Darcy’s little sister Georgiana is now Gigi Darcy. Gigi is very similar to the character in the novel, very kind and very accomplished. She is a fan of Lizzie’s videos.
**There are several characters that are mentioned throughout the series, but not seen onscreen. Some are later seen, most notably William Darcy, but others are not. Lizzie and Charlotte (or Lizzie and others) frequently act out impressions of these characters with the help of props.
- Mrs. Bennet — Still Mrs. Bennet, still looking for husbands for her single daughters. Lizzie portrays her in the videos, with a Southern accent and large blue hat.
- Mr. Bennet — Still Mr. Bennet, he is the long suffering husband of Mrs. Bennet and father of the Bennet girls. Charlotte usually portrays him in the videos.
- Lady Catherine de Bourgh — Lady Catherine is now Ms. de Bourgh, the venture capitalist that Mr. Collins worships and works for. Lizzie impersonates her in some videos.
Here’s the first episode to get you started: