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‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ And New Ways of Telling Old Stories

February 8, 2013

LBDRecently I’ve rediscovered my love of web series’.I’ve always been a fan of The  Guild, but this past week I discovered something that I’m sure some of you have been aware of for quite some time—The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Yes, yet another adaptation of Pride 

and Prejudice. I, like any good literature geek, love a good theatrical retelling of how independent minded Elizabeth Bennet overcame strong first impressions and a less than cute ‘meet’.

I’m pretty picky about adaptations though–some might say too picky. For instance the five hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice was fantastic, but even my adoration of Keira Knightley couldn’t change my opinion of the 2005 American remake of the tale—and don’t get me started on Miss Bennet’s popular reemergence as a destroyer of the undead.  Not my cup of tea to say the least. I generally don’t like my classic novels written as if by an alternative universe loving fanfiction writer (no disrespect to the actual content of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ it was just too out there for my tastes).

That’s why The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was so refreshingly surprising. The web series tracks the story of Pride and Prejudice’s main character through biweekly vlogs. That’s the lens through which viewers connect with Lizzie and her ever expanding social circle: her sisters (just Jane and Lydia in this retelling), best friend and vlog editor Charlotte Lu, the novels two suitors Bing Lee and William Darcy, as well as other favorites from the novel. As the series has unfolded over nearly 90 episodes, it’s become an interesting look at interactive media as a lens in which to re cast popular fiction and a look at meta-communication. It also has a big heart that it’s more than willing to wear on its sleeve.

Where to start: The series is almost 90 episodes strong on it’s main vlog, but it also features vlogs from other characters, fake Twitter accounts, and Lydia’s Tumblr—and those are only the official additions. It’s enough to overwhelm any newcomer.  If you’re interested I’d suggest trying out Episode 6 “Snobby Mr. Douchey” which introduces the Elizabeth- Mr. Darcy tension that drives both the series and the novel.

From there you’ll see many fresh takes from a Lydia with a bit more agency and depth to a much more nefarious Wickham. That along with many clever conceits (including the introduction of the story’s at times unseen supporting characters via “costume theater”.

It’s a fun look at a timeless classic. Tune in every Monday and Thursday at 9 a.m. Eastern for new episodes.

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