In keeping with my trend of being a tragically late adopter of all things awesome, I have recently stumbled on an internet treasure that is not only over, in that I’m guessing everyone else has seen it, but it actually ended yesterday. This treasure is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a 100-episode adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice told primarily through the vlog of Lizzie Bennet.
Read on at your own risk – this is an incredibly addictive experience, especially for Jane Austen fans. Seriously, my first episode turned into watching over 20 episodes. Thank goodness most of them are less than five minutes.
This adaptation is the creation of Hank Green and Bernie Su. Their ability to update the characters and situations are very clever. Kitty is no longer a Bennet sister, but instead the family cat who follows youngest sister Lydia around everywhere. Charles Bingley is transformed into Bing Lee, a wealthy, Asian medical student. And Lizzie is a communications grad student, living at home to save money. Modernizing a story that is primarily about primogeniture and the economic imperative of women to marry is no small feat.
What is even more innovative is that the story is told through multiple contemporary channels. The anchor of the series, are Lizzie’s vlog posts through her youtube channels. However many tweets between Darcy, Bing Lee, and Caroline Lee compliment the story, along with video by Lydia, a fashion tumblr blog by Jane, and other social media spin offs.
This is the first attempt at a modernized internet-based retelling of the story, and I’m excited that it has been a success. In fact, The Guardian called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries “the best Austen adaptation around.” Fans of the series have also proved themselves to be both passionate and dedicated by interacting with the project through their own social media accounts and most recently raising over three hundred thousand dollars in less than a week (surpassing the sixty thousand dollar goal in less than six hours) through a Kickstarter Campaign to make the series available on DVD. While I wouldn’t consider watching the web series an alternative to reading the book, I am supportive/excited for anything that keeps the story alive and evolving.
I haven’t finished the series yet, but something else that excites me is that the story is that the relationships between the women in the story (mainly Jane, Lizzie, Charlotte, and Lydia) have taken a more prominent role than the romantic relationships.
So if you haven’t watched these yet, I suggest you start the story here and let me know what you think. And I want to give a huge thanks to Kelsey at Books to Mark – who first clued me into this through a blog comment.