A Beginner’s Guide to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
It is a truth universally acknowledged that “Pride and Prejudice” is awesome in all formats.
I first came across “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” developed by Bernie Su and Hank Green via the new universal communicator: gifs. Browsing my favourite tumblr profiles, Lizzie and her sisters kept popping up with Darcy robot impersonations, dress up props and funny captions. But what was it? How did people know about it? What channel could I watch it on?
Putting aside some dedicated “not leaving the house, not moving from the couch” time over the holidays (also known as New Year’s Day) I caught up on all 70+ episodesto date of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” (LBD) which you can watch on that other universal communicator: YouTube.
By no means the first webseries to gain a large following or effectively engage in transmedia storytelling (telling a single story across multiple platforms), LBD stands out for its direct, entertaining, and highly organised approach, with each arc planned to perfection, spot on performances by the actors, and frequent updates in real time. The show uses Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Lookbook to enhance the characters and feed our sometimes insatiable desire for content, but the story is not diminished should you just follow the episodes. It is a new way of telling an old tale, and perhaps it is that comfort that we know where it is going, but in a way that can be a bit surprising that makes it a great series to try out if you’ve yet to give internet only programs a chance.
So to set the scene, here’s a little breakdown to where these classic characters have found themselves in the modern day. And if this manages to whet your appetite, catch up from the very beginning here.
Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements): A 24 year old grad student living at home with her parents and two sisters (Jane and Lydia). She is still the smartest person in the room, loves impersonating her parents and other “characters” in her life for comedic effect, has no money, is “perpetually single” according to Lydia, and yes, a little bit judgemental.
Lydia Bennet (Mary Kate Wiles): Possibly the character that suits our time more than her original one, Lydia simpers for the camera, loves to party, is obsessed with her phone, shortens every word, and is in fact so charming she has her own vlog spinoff “The Lydia Bennet”. One of the characters that benefits the most from the multi-platform storytelling format, when Lizzie journeys to other destinations and leaves her sister behind, Lydia’s vlog fills in the gaps of her journey that the book (and subsequent miniseries and films) was unable to do.
Jane Bennet (Laura Spencer): Still the sweet as pie and beautiful older sister, Jane works in fashion where she is overworked and underpaid and struggling to meet her university loan repayments like every good twenty something starting their career. She is too busy working and making care packages for her sisters to pay much attention to boys, until of course Bing Lee comes to town.
Bing Lee (Christopher Sean): A handsome, rich, Asian med student that buys into the neighbourhood and into Mrs Bennet’s sights. He is of course immediately taken by Jane, and pursues her with romantic gestures such as “carpooling” i.e. driving her to and picking her up from work. He is of course, social, charming and likeable, unlike his friend.
William Darcy (Daniel Gordh): The CEO of Pemberley Digital, Darcy is humourless, expressionless, unimpressed by general society and “pop music”, and of course, madly in love with Lizzie.
Charlotte Lu (Julia Cho): Best friend of Lizzie Bennet and official editor of the video diaries, Charlotte is reasonable and funny, and may see an opportunity in an offer that Lizzie does not.
Mr Collins (Maxwell Glick): Runs a start-up video company funded by venture capitalist Catherine De Burgh.
George Wickham (Wes Aderhold): College dropout, swim team instructor, Vegas frequenter. Likes to take his shirt off.
Caroline Lee (Jessica Jade Andres): Bing’s beautiful and manipulative sister, she is the first to cotton on to Lizzie’s videos and uses it to her advantage.
Gigi Darcy (Allison Paige): Little sister to William Darcy, graphic designer and #1 Lizzie/Darcy shipper.
Fitz Williams (Craig Frank): Friend to both Darcy and Lizzie, he is not against dressing up for the camera and baking cookies for Jane’s care package when Lizzie wants to cheer her up. Gigi’s partner in crime to bring Lizzie and Darcy together.
Mary Bennet (Briana Cuoco): Cousin to Jane, Lizzie and Lydia, and tutor, friend and confident to Lydia in particular.
Kitty Bennet: Lydia’s cat who follows her everywhere.
The series posts two new videos a week (and more if Lydia posts as well) and is scheduled to wrap in March. For more information head to http://www.lizziebennet.com/