I’ve never been a huge Jane Austen fan (since I was a teenager I much preferred the dark and twisty Bronte sisters to light and fluffy Jane), but I have always been a big lover of Pride and Prejudice. I’ve seen just about every adaptation of the beloved novel from the BBC Miniseries (starring yummy Colin Firth) to Bridget Jones’s Diary (again starring yummy Colin Firth). And, admittedly, I’ve also read a couple of those bodice ripping rewrites of the beloved victorian novel (not to mention Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies!).
A couple weeks ago, I started seeing bits of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries all over my dash on Tumblr. At first I thought it was another adaption much like the 2008 mini-series Lost in Austen. However I quickly discovered that instead, it was a web series on You Tube. After observing all the fangirling of others over the You Tube series and seeing almost a dozen GIF sets of scenes, I decided to check it out.
LBD follows the story of Lizzie Bennett, 24-year-old grad student, who has decided to start a video blog along with her best friend Charlotte Lu as part of a school project. The first episode opens with the novel’s famous line (It is a truth universally acknowledged…) on a t-shirt gifted to the Lizzie and her sisters by their over-zealous, marriage obsessed mother, and we are thus immersed into the 21st century story of Elizabeth Bennett. Some things have changed (for example there are now only three Bennett sisters, as opposed to five, and Bingley has been renamed Bing Lee) but most of the original story is recognizable within each video.
The great thing about this adaptation is that the writers/creators have managed to keep the major themes of Austen’s original work within this new story. For example, money and social class are two running themes of P&P, and they have carried over to LBD. Lizzie makes more than a few mentions to her “mountain of student loans” and her parents’ financial problems. It is also clear that there is a divide in wealth between Bing Lee and Co. compared to the Bennetts. Social Class may not be as big of a deal in 2013 the way it was back in 19th century England, but in today’s economy the gap is definitely widening again between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy.
My absolute favorite thing about LBD, is the way that creators Hank Green, Bernie Su, and their team have spread LBD across a variety of social media platforms. As I’m sure most of you know, media and entertainment is ever-evolving. With people becoming more and more immersed with social networking, activities like watching television shows have become less passive. Perhaps it’s a blog post I shall make at another time, but I am completely in love and inspired by the way creative people are using tools like YouTube, blogs, Twitter, etc. to create their own opportunities and make and promote the things they are truly passionate about. Anyone who wants to film and create their own work is no longer bound by needing support from big television networks or large scale productions. The internet is out there for the taking and anyone with a little bit of passion and drive can grab a slice of the pie! But back to LBD–It absolutely blows my mind the way this web series has run away with using each of these social media platforms to expand the storytelling. Each of the characters can be found on Twitter–having conversations with one another or posting about their days outside of Lizzie’s vlogs–as well as Tumblr (the Looks By Jane tumblr is definitely worth a look), and a couple of them have developed their own video blogs just like Lizzie.
As a prior fan of the book, I love watching the story unfold and waiting anxiously to see my favorite parts and how the will play out. The series can also serve as a great intro to people who are experiencing Austen for the first time, especially those who can’t quite get on board with the stuffy language of the novel (no offense JA!).
So if you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, Austen, or you are just looking for a way to fill your Thursday afternoon, click here to watch the first ten episodes of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. And feel free to come back and let me know what you think! 🙂