The long running The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is over after 100 episodes! If you are unfamiliar with with this webseries, now is the best time to check it out. TLBD is a webseries based on the novel of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It chronicles the life and events of Elizabeth Bennet but in our modern world. Although initially the story stuck pretty close to the novel, it’s changes have created a fresher version of a well known tale.
I think I might be the only woman in the world who can say that I am tired of Pride and Prejudice. My best friend, my roommates, my classmates, they all love Austen’s famous novel religiously, but I was personally already very tired of the same old tale. Disenchanted and unimpressed by all the readaptations, the webseries got me curious. The brainchild of Hank Green, one half of the youtube superpower VlogBrothers, every week two episodes would be posted that would bring the audience deeper into the story architected by Jane Austen. If you have seen the series, read on and see some of my analysis on the series, if not, go watch it now! Even people who dislike Austen should give this a chance. The acting is not too bad and the story is driven not just by romantic love but family love as well.
Here there be spoilers and English major level analysis. So starting off the series, one of the best parts of story was the slow reveal of characters. Only half way through the series were we able to meet characters like Wickham and Bingley and Darcy. The casting of the female leads were excellent as well as the direction of the plot. Some of the name tricks they pulled were great, like changing Bingley’s character into Bing Lee, the asian doctor who has realized that his life isn’t going the way he wants it to go. Or Charlotte Lu, who chooses to join Collins and Collins as an employee instead of marrying herself off like Charlotte Lewis. Or Pemberly being a digital multimedia empire instead of a massive impressive estate. But in my opinion, one of the best changes was the fate of Lydia Bennet.
A part of the story that we are all familiar with is the turning point in which we realize Lydia has ruined her own life by running away with George Wickham and Wickham has successfully swindled money from Darcy yet again. Now early on in the webseries, Lydia was already starting to be fan favorite, even with me and my friends. We were very curious as to how they would approach the subject of her unraveling. The beauty of modern technology helped them out with the plotting. Twitter, tumblr, and other youtube accounts documented Lydia’s downwards spiral after meeting George Wickham and while Lizzie was away at Pemberly. The documented youtube videos of Lydia and George show the viewers a much darker version of a story that we never heard. A verbally abusive George strips Lydia of any trust she has for her family. In this version, we sympathize with Lydia a lot more. The trigger that brings her into George’s arms can easily be blamed on Lizzie, making it a much more heartbreaking experience when Lizzie finds out what has happened. In this version, they do not elope but rather George has gotten a video of Lydia having sex with him and plans to release it online, riding off the back of Lizzie’s fame with her Diaries.
The diaries utilize different youtube accounts and different platforms of communication in order to bring the story to life. As well as elements like Roleplay in order to bring forth characters that may not make it onto screen like Lizzie’s parents. Physically we see the changes in characters, when Lydia is with Wickham she has changed the mood of her outfits of dress, her make up has been toned down, she looks paler, when Lizzie is with Darcy she’s dressed up, her night out with Charlotte has her in fancier clothes and bolder makeup, Jane’s outfits imitate the character’s own fashion acumen. The five sisters have been cut down to three, Mary becoming a cousin and Kitty is actually a kitty, making the development of the characters a little more focused.
The awesome change of Jane and Bing’s story is also something that can be commented on. In fact, the change from women who become dependent on their rich husbands to women becoming independent from their boyfriends is refreshing. Jane gets a great job in New York at the end of the series, and Bing, who has quit medical school moves in with her and finds himself again. He has lost his position and his fortune, but that’s not why Jane wants to be with him anyways. Lizzie ends the story intending to start her own company, becoming a competitor for Pemberly instead of agreeing to work within the company with Darcy, making them equals. Charlotte gains control of Collins and Collins in America after Collins moves to Manitoba to get married. It’s an empowering direction to take the story.
Ultimately the diaries gave me hope for the story. Bored of the same old story, the new direction of the piece combined the same things that we loved about the story, the power of sisterhood, the strength of a dedicated love, and the power of friendship into a modern viewfinder. The story ends with a smile and gives us hope for future productions hoping the follow in the footsteps of this series.
O, if you’re curious, there have been many talks for future projects on the horizon. Welcome to Sanditon is coming May 2013, and the next adaptation is starting this summer!