A wonderful, delightful distraction that is fast becoming my (and others') greatest obsession is the The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD), an online modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. In it, Lizzie is a young graduate student finishing her final year of school. In lieu of a senior thesis, she starts a vlog, or a video blog. She sits in her bedroom, with her best friend Charlotte Lu as her cameraman, and tells the story of her family and friends. Sometimes she and Charlotte act out parts of the story. With costumes! And props! And as time goes by, all the major characters make an appearance on the vlog.
Some arrivals are more anticipated than others.
Each episode is only five minutes or so long, but in those few minutes, the writers cram so much of what I love about the characters of Pride and Prejudice into a modern story of friends and family. And all their mistakes and failings are there to see, but updated. And therefore they say as much about our time as they do about the beloved characters themselves.
Darcy is a hipster. Bing Lee is an earnest medical student. Jane is a sweet fashion merchandiser, always looking for the best in people. Lydia can’t wait to turn 21 so she can finally drink. Legally.
But Darcy is still shy and awkward. Lizzie is still slyly funny. Jane is still easily wounded. Lydia is effervescent. There is still Bing’s vulnerability, Charlotte’s ambition, Lydia’s insecurity.
Some of the changes the writers make show me things about the characters that I don’t always notice, despite rereading the book annually for a couple of decades. They are so true to the characters that I fell in love with, but yet it brings something new to the table.
They bring a fresh take on the characters that I love in the same way some movie adaptation, such as Emma turned into a Beverly Hills teen in Clueless or the Taming of the Shrew into a suburban high school in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Above all, I love The Lizzie Bennett Diaries for the production itself. I’m not breathlessly waiting every Monday and Thursday for the episode to go live (at noon EST, in case you were wondering) for some intellectually fascinating revelation.
I’m waiting for the emotional hit of watching these people (they are real! I swear!) grope toward their HEA, and I want to be there to watch every fumbling moment, every heartbreak, every happiness. What keeps me coming back is the way this series hits all the emotional moments in just the right way. All those little glances and touches. The pause before a line. The writing and the acting is wonderfully understated. It is a lesson in the brilliant use of subtext to tell the story (I think it was the author Courtney Milan who said this on Twitter).
And that’s why twice a week I am glued to my computer dissecting every word spoken, and some unspoken, as once again Lizzie falls in love with Darcy. There are already over seventy episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If that’s not enough for you, Lydia has her own vlog.
So go ahead. Watch the first episode of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. You’ll be hooked. And then you’ll be like me, breathlessly waiting the next episode, hoping for a glimpse of Darcy or for Lizzie’s take on the latest happenings in Netherfield. And after you’ve watched, you can come dissect every word and every movement on Twitter with the hashtag #TheLBD.
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on twitter @juliabroadbooks.