True or false? Elizabeth Bennet is a communications graduate student living with her family in California. The answer is: True! Well, at least in “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a modern-day web adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
The series began its run on YouTube in 2012 in the form of 100 short videos. This adaptation (produced by the aptly named Pemberley Digital production company) is exciting, witty, and so lovable that it’ll leave you wanting to watch the entire series in one sitting — which I may or may not have done myself.
If you’re in the market for a new series to enjoy, here’s everything you need to know before watching “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Consider this your “LBD 101.”
In this series, Lizzie Bennet gives viewers a peek into her family life through her video blog (vlog) as a grad-school project. She’s aided by her best friend, Charlotte; her sweet older sister, Jane; and her extremely enthusiastic younger sister, Lydia.
In true Austen fashion, Mrs. Bennet constantly pushes Lizzie and her two sisters to marry rich men — especially when medical student Bing Lee moves in down the street. With Bing Lee comes his sister, Caroline, and of course his best friend, William Darcy.
There’s also a slew of other notable characters, such as Ricky Collins (creator of the media company Collins and Collins) and his patron, Ms. Catherine De Bourgh. Swim coach George Wickham also makes an appearance — first wooing Lizzie, then later Lydia.
LBD is fun and hilarious, and this is just a taste of the slew of shenanigans that ensue throughout the web series. Though the main ideas of “Pride and Prejudice” remain, the way it’s re-created allows for new adventures for these classic characters.
Though there are a few outliers, the episodes are generally around two to five minutes and were originally released twice a week or so. They usually involve Lizzie talking directly to the camera (with Charlotte assumed to be behind it), taking viewers through her most recent life updates.
Other characters will sometimes insert themselves into the videos. Other times, Lizzie will reenact her encounters with them using props (and Charlotte). Though most videos find Lizzie in her room, sometimes she’ll be at Bing Lee’s, a company office, or even a web video convention.
The Modern-Day Differences
Although this adaptation sticks closely to the heart and soul of the original novel, there are, of course, a few notable differences.
For starters, all the main characters have jobs or backgrounds that fit perfectly with their character traits. Lizzie is in grad school studying mass communications, Jane is a fashionista, Lydia is a seemingly flighty party girl, Bing Lee is a medical student, and Darcy runs his own company.
These characters also find themselves in all sorts of different situations, such as Ricky Collins attempting to make Lizzie his new business partner.
If you’re wondering about Mary and Kitty, then ponder no more. In this version, Mary is the Bennet sisters’ emo cousin and Kitty is — well, you’ll have to watch to find out.
All of this is to say that the vlog style gave the series producers more creative freedom.
Why It’s So Lovable
For me, part of the appeal of LBD is its modern-day modifications to the original storyline of “Pride and Prejudice.” It stays true to the novel, but in doing so, crafts something special all its own. It’s charming, it’s funny, and it has heart. The plot is lovable, the format is new and innovative, and the characters are everything I could have ever wanted them to be.
Pemberley Digital aims to tell “timeless stories in innovative ways,” and that’s exactly what it does with the “Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” It breathes new life into this classic novel — and I really just can’t get enough of it.
So, if you’re looking for something to binge-watch, then look no further. “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is sure to be one of your new favorite Austen adaptations.