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