The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern adaptation, presenting the story through the video blog of Lizzie Bennet, a college student still living with her parents because she’s saddled with student debt. She has two sisters, incredibly sweet Jane and party-girl Lydia. Best friend Charlotte helps Lizzie with her vlog, chronicling her mother’s obsession with getting her daughters married, and the ups and downs of Jane’s romance with the cute Bing Lee. And how it would all go smoother without Bing’s deeply irritating friend William Darcy.
Like a real vlog, this story is told through short episodes, around five minutes each. They originally came out one or two a week for about a year but can all be found on YouTube now. Make sure you watch a playlist that includes the sub-series, like Lydia’s vlog. I was also pleasantly impressed by the high quality of the filming (because it’s hard to know what to expect from a faux-vlog) and, for that matter, the acting!
This web series does an amazing job with the modern twists and the portrayals of the characters. They’re recognizably the characters from Austen’s story, but with modern angles. Jane is still sweet as gold but she’s not weak (and she has a career that’s important to her, instead of focusing on nothing but romance). Lydia is perpetually having a wild time and embarrassing her sisters at the local bar. And Lizzie is still witty and endearing but sometimes quick to judge, takes her loved ones for granted at times and makes mistakes. But is very likable too.
These are wonderfully well-developed, complex characters, especially the three sisters. The series cut the Bennet family down from five daughters (although Mary shows up as a cousin, and Kitty comes in as—can you guess?—Lydia’s pet cat!) I think this was a smart choice because it lets them develop the characters more, examining both the characters and their relationships with each other.
By the end of the series, Lydia really emerged as a favorite for me. I loved the layers, of the insecurity and fears under Lydia’s partying attitude. She sometimes feels shut out from her sisters’ close bond, and desperately wants approval from the men she dates. Her relationship with Wickham is a long way into the series so I kind of hate to push it as a reason someone should watch this—but it’s so good. Lydia’s videos show her relationship with Wickham, and show the viewers the emotional manipulation that Lydia can’t see. When his true sleaziness finally comes out, Lydia is heartbroken—but because she’s a modern woman, she’s going to recover and go on and have an amazing life!
Lizzie’s friendship with Charlotte is lovely too. In the book (and many adaptations), Charlotte is described as Lizzie’s best friend but we don’t get to see that. Here they get a lot of time together, have a really clear bond—and have some ups and downs too.
This is a long watch—100-odd five minute episodes adds up to a lot of time. But it’s wonderful and engaging and a very different way to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice.
Producers’ website: http://www.pemberleydigital.com/the-lizzie-bennet-diaries/