One of the beautiful things about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries—and of course Pride and Prejudice—is the deliciously slow development of the relationship. One of the things they did right in the adaptation was to hold on to that slow, reluctant fall into love.
Which for the viewers means more all of those romantic moments, when every touch and glance is filled with meaning. And in my opinion in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, no moments are more romantic than those with Darcy and Lizzie. The first appearances of Darcy are stories told about him or—even better!—costume theater portrayal of him by one of the other characters. Way back in episode 15, “Lizzie Bennet is in Denial,” Charlotte and Jane act out a scene at Carter’s bar where Darcy delivers the much loved line about Lizzie’s fine eyes. In episode 31, “Convertible Carpool,” Lizzie tells us at 3:16 that Darcy “stares at me constantly. It’s like I’m a traffic accident and he just can’t look away.” In episode 33, “Nope He Doesn’t Like Me,” Jane takes another hilarious turn at portraying Darcy who tells Lizzie that he wouldn’t dare hate her (at 3:11).
When Darcy finally (finally!!) comes on screen for real in Episode 60, “Are You Kidding Me?,” his long awaited appearance was everything I had hoped for. Darcy is awkward and rude when he makes his proposal. Lizzie is angry and sarcastic as she rejects him. And then in the next episode 62, “Yeah, I Know,” Darcy delivers the letter to Lizzie. After he hands it to her, I can almost feel his reluctance to leave her. Oh, the angst!
By episode 78, “The Lizzie Trap,” Lizzie has had plenty of time to think over the content of that letter. When Darcy surprises her weeks later, Lizzie has had time for her anger to fade. Darcy does indeed stare at her as though he can’t look away. Without her anger to shield her, Lizzie feels the full force of their awkward encounter and tries to hurry off immediately. Darcy offers to drive her to meet her friend, but is disappointed when he’s rebuffed. It’s very clear that his feelings haven’t changed. But the moment I love is at the end when Lizzie is saying good-bye. The pair stand in front of the camera so that only their torsos are visible. And Lizzie reaches out and touches his wrist oh, so briefly. Darcy’s hand flexes as though he’s tempted to grab her hand and hold on but knows he can’t. That single touch carries so much weight. In a culture where our media is saturated by sexuality, I adore how this shows how much weight a single touch can carry and how meaningful the smallest of gestures can be. In that moment it’s clear how much she’s softened to Darcy.
Episode 80, “Hyper-Mediation in New Media,” Darcy shows off his understanding of Lizzie’s work and reveals that he has a sense of humor when he gets his first shot at costume theater, all while getting to explain himself to Lizzie. When Lizzie asks him if Bing still cares for Jane (4:15), Darcy pulls of his costume hat and looks her right in the eye and says, “Why don’t you ask him yourself?” He holds her gaze for several long seconds. I know. I’ve counted. You know what he’s really saying is, “Ask me if I still care.” And the answer to that is yes.
One of my favorite LBD moments isn’t in any of the videos. Instead it’s one of a series of pictures that Gigi tweeted at the start of the day she and her brother showed Lizzie the city of San Francisco (top pic in this post). Darcy is looking off into the distance, but Lizzie is looking right at him, trying to figure out just who he really is.
Darcy is smart and handsome and wealthy. All the things Mrs. Bennet requires in a prospective son-in-law. While those are all lovely qualities in a man, they aren’t what impress Lizzie. In episode 83, he shows why he’s the perfect match for Lizzie. He makes her laugh. He is hilariously silly now that he’s relaxed a bit in her company. Any couple who can laugh like that belong together!
But of course the LBD creators are cruel and promptly rip the happy couple apart. Darcy is there with Lizzie when she gets the news about Lydia’s trouble. Lizzie is totally undone. Her voice shakes. She can’t decide what to do. She’s unlike the Lizzie we’ve seen in the past, quick and decisive even when upset. He is, of course, wonderful. He handles everything—car to the airport, a flight, shipping her belongings back home to her. But more than that, he comforts her. He tells her things aren’t her fault. At 2:47, he does the best thing of all. He runs his hand over her shoulder and says, “Let me help you.”
Here Lizzie faces one of her darker moments—possibly the darkest ever—and this very good man just wants to help in any way he can. He had stopped by to ask her out on what might have become their first ever date. Before he even gets a reply, Lizzie’s whole world falls apart.
And he does what he can to make it less awful.
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.