All right, so I’m incredibly late to the party, but let’s talk about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! This webseries is a fantastic adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into modern times. Think something along the lines of the BBC’s Sherlock, but with a much more relatable lead character.
Lizzie Bennet is a 24-year-old grad student studying mass communications, and she and her best friend Charlotte Lu set out to do a series of vlogs about Lizzie’s life as part of a class project. And so begins their webseries, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. As Pride and Prejudice’s main plot arc was the marriage of each of its female characters, modernizing this classic means that the creators had to carefully consider how to keep each plot point, as marriage is now not the be-all end-all for women who want to get ahead in life.
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth was supposed to be the “prejudiced” one (Darcy being the “pride” half of the equation) but I could never see it in the original book. It’s perhaps because I was reading it two hundred years on, but I, like Lizzie, didn’t think a woman should get married to a man she didn’t like simply to feel secure in life. But because The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are performed through social media, it’s a lot easier to show other characters’ points of view. Lizzie’s sister, Lydia, starts her own vlog after seeing Lizzie’s success, and all the characters have their own twitter pages. If you never thought Lydia was a sympathetic character, well, Lydia’s vlog is going to change your mind on that. And with the additional points of view, Lizzie’s prejudiced side is much easier to see.
I can’t end this review without talking about the casting! Co-creator Bernie Su has said:
“One of Hank and my early requirements for this show [was] that the entire cast not be all Caucasian. We both strongly felt that we needed to have other races in our series to accurately represent our setting of contemporary America.”
Can we talk about the gloriousness of that statement for a second? Can we talk about the fact that Bingley (now Bing Lee), the most desirable “catch” for the ladies, is Asian? Can we talk about Fitz, who’s black, gay, and easily the most entertaining character in the cast? Su’s commitment to racial diversity is something rarely seen, but highly appreciated, and it’s the cherry on top of this perfect sundae.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ends next week, March 28th. So if you start now, you should have plenty of time to catch up before the final episode. Watch the entire playlist here!