Truths Universally Acknowledged: Lizzie Bennet Will Hook You Rachael Berkey

This past week, Pride & Prejudice turned 200, and the internet was awash with celebration of one of the original sassy female protagonists. In my own little corner of the cosmos, it was the first time I truly dove into online entertainment by committing to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the YouTube brainchild of Hank Green.

Have you experienced The Lizzie Bennet Diaries yet? Are you as obsessed with the sassy Lizzie Bennet and her equally sassy bff, Charlotte as I am?

I’m not completely caught up yet, but I’m well on my way. Since Monday night, I’ve consumed 60+ 3-minute episodes on YouTube, and I fully expect to be caught up by the end of this weekend.

The format is simple: Lizzie Bennet, played by the delightful Ashley Clements, addresses her camera much as any of us would write in a diary or talk to our best friend. Only a few of the main players from the novel are presented to the camera, namely Lizzie, Jane, Lydia and Charlotte in the beginning, and later we get Mr. Collins, Fitzwilliam and Darcy. The characters we don’t see, but who are important parts of the story, are portrayed by Lizzie and co. with brief impressions and tiny costume accents like a funny hat (Mrs. Bennet) and a prudish bow tie (Darcy).

You might be worried that simply watching one or two people talk to a camera for what equates to hours worth of storytelling would be boring, but it’s really not. Much like the story that has become such an ingrained part of pop culture thanks to previous modernizations and retellings, once you meet these characters, you just can’t put the book down. Or in this case, the computer.

Why do I suddenly feel invested in this story that I already know the ending of?

Why do I find myself wondering what will happen with my favorite characters?

It’s a little ridiculous right? I’ve read/listened to/watched this exact same story in so many iterations at this point that I can tell you what next lines will be.

I have argued over the perfect Mr. Darcy with my friends.

I’m a Matthew MacFadyen fan myself. Sorry ladies but Colin Firth in a wet frilly blouse just does not do it for me like Matthew MacFadyen striding across a misty field in all his ridiculously tall and brooding glory. You can’t change my mind so just don’t bother trying, okay?

I have only just met Mr. Darcy in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I am eager to see how he holds up to my opinions of the character. One of the most interesting things about this particular retelling, is how actually close to character age the actors appear on YouTube. I mean, women got married a lot younger in Jane Austen’s time, and one of my complaints about a lot of theatrical portrayals of the characters is that they are too old. Lizzie Bennet and company are all around grad school age, which I can totally relate to on some level as I am still in denial about my last birthday that pushed me, kicking and screaming, out of my 20s.

So I’m hooked. And if you’re not watching and you are a fan of P&P, you should give it a shot. We’re only going to see more and more media appear on the internet in the future, and we might as well get used to it now, right?

Plus, you’re really going to want to see how these modernizers play with the value of marriage and employment in the story. It’s really cool when you’re a literature-analyzing nerd like me.

Image via Official Lizzie Bennet Diaries Facebook

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  1. I am completely and utterly obsessed with the LBD. I bring a computer to work just for the purposes of watching it on my lunch break (work computer can’t play Youtube). I’ve gotten a few friends to watch it and now we will spend out week texting about the various videos. It is absolutely incredible how fresh a 200 story can still be and how the show keeps us guessing despite the fact that a fair amount of viewers have read the book and so more or less know what is going to happen.

    • It is amazing how fresh this crew has made this story. I think it’s a stroke of genius as well as probably a labor of love for everyone involved. What I love about it is that I am not the only one who is obsessed with it and counts the days until there’s a new video!

  2. I’m in LOVE with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! I don’t know why I never heard of them earlier.

    Also, I agree with you about Matthew MacFadyen as the better Mr. Darcy. I prefer Colin Firth paying homage to himself, as Mark Darcy.

  3. Hi, I’m Lauren, and I am obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I’ve been reading articles all day and this one, so far, has been my favorite. I keep trying to convince everyone I know to watch it, and the few who have finally given in (so far) have absolutely loved it. I might share your article with the friends who haven’t given in to my latest obsession.

    (PS: Wait till you get caught up! OH. MY. GOSH.)

  4. Do I have to have read Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the LBD?

    • Absolutely NOT! I have a friend who is watching and she has never seen or read P&P and she is totally into the story. It is kind of fun watching it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know where the story is going like most of us P&P lovers already do.

    • No! Definitely not! I have seen a couple of screen adaptions, but I haven’t read the books. The story-telling is so awesome and their transmedia initiative is so great that you feel even more connected to the story. Their transmedia push includes (at least!) twitter, facebook, tumblr, and other character’s videos.

      Amazing.

  5. Just a tip: When Lydia talks about having her own videos, you will want to watch those too. They continue with her part of the story.

  6. My best friend and I have been enjoying this series for quite some time. We’re both Nerdfighters (shout-out to my fellow Nerdfighters) and Janeites, so it’s almost as if Hank & Co. made this for us. ;)

  7. My sister introduced me to them in August (I think?), and I have been hooked. I am a Colin sympathizer, but Matthew definitely has his good points. The modern Darcy was a no-go with the bow-ties, but now that he wears skinny ties, I am fine with him. I like the portrayal of Darcy by today’s standards, and I cannot wait until they possibly kiss.

  8. I’ve been on the LBD train since it’s 12th or 13th episode. and now it has 80-something!!! i dont want it to end! i often feel silly telling my friends that i’m really into this youtube series (and a few others – i usually start them off with a nice Smart Girls At The Party with Amy Poehler – it offers some credibility). they just imagine strange, desperate, wanna-be actors/singers sitting in front of their built-in computer cameras talking about themselves. But the fact is, LBD and many other web series out there have INCREDIBLE production value, across the board. the writing, the acting, the directing, the set design, the lighting, the location scouting, the foley mixer – OK, maybe LBD doesn’t have a foley mixer but you get the idea. these are basically tv shows being broadcast on youtube FOR FREE. and their utilization of social media to promote themselves and build online communities is something i can’t quite wrap my brain around just yet.
    some other goodies worth checking out:
    My Music – for people who generally enjoy music and ridiculous Office-style comedy antics.
    H+ The Digital Series – for science fiction/technology, future dystopia nerds.
    Smart Girls At The Party, including Ask Amy – check out HG’s article on it from last week.
    WIGS – maybe HG has posted about this, but it boasts some Grade AAA actors in its multiple mini-series about complex and authentic female characters. (Jennifer Garnder, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, Jena Malone, etc)

  9. The LBD is amazing!!! One of the things I love the most are the multiple spin-offs, that are integral part of the story: You have Lydia’s vlog, Maria Lu’s Internship vlog, and now the Pemberley Digital videos, all of them chronicling the peripheral aspects of the story.

  10. Finally! I’ve been a Lizzie Bennet Diaries fan for a while, and Hello Giggles reader for even longer than that. I’m glad to finally see LBD get a mention here, because it is AWESOME.

    You forgot to mention what really makes LBD unique – the transmedia element. All the characters have Twitter accounts and such, and in between video postings, other parts of the story unfold across various social media sites. The story unfolds in real time, as if the characters were real people, and it just adds to the excitement.

    If you want to experience it ALL, chronologically, go here: http://www.lizziebennet.com/story/

  11. This has been my latest obsession and the source of all my feels. I recently got a bunch of my friends into it so we can fangirl over it together. Thank you for writing this lovely article to fuel my obsession even more.

    I actually found this through Ashley Clements’ (actress who plays Lizzie) Twitter. Funny thing is, I never really used Twitter before I started watching the show. Now I’m on all the time, checking to see if anything is happening in the LBD universe.

  12. I will have to check it out but Colin Firth forever! I hate how MM speaks with those soft S’s and the dialogue that was ridiculous and invented just for the movie!

  13. I agree on the MacFayden point, but I really hated Keira Knightley as Elizabeth.

  14. I actually just started watching this yesterday because it was all over Tumblr. I absolutely love it. Really great acting and the writing is laugh out loud funny. Love it!

  15. I love this series!!! I have been hooked since last April! Knowing that one half of the vlogbrothers would be involved made me confident that it would be great. It has been really interesting to see how big some thing like this could get in such a short amount of time.