Jan 27, 2013

Are you watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie, Jane, Lydia and Charlotte
Charlotte, Lizzie, Jane and Lydia.

You know how sometimes, when something is really popular among a particular group of people, you tend to assume that it must be popular everywhere, and maybe even that the whole world is tired of hearing about it? But then you realise that different social circles often operate completely independently, which means that there might be tons of people out there who have not yet encountered this wonderful thing that has you and all your friends so excited.

Such is the case with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I’m completely in love with this series, and I know that fellow bloggers Iris, Jodie, Renay, Simon, Chachic, Heidi and probably many others would totally back me up, so I assumed it was wildly popular all over the Internet. But then two things happened: one, Jenny mentioned not being familiar with Hank Green in a comment. Hank, John Green’s brother, is a producer for the series, so I started thinking about whether she was watching it and how Jenny is someone I’d particularly love to share the Lizzie Bennet Diaries with. Two, I read this post at Gossamer Obsessions, and it got me thinking about how sometimes, even if a piece of media is all over the place, it takes a particular post worded in a certain way that catches you at the right moment for you to pay attention and decide to seek it out. Nothing would please me more than to make that happen for someone with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

But let me begin at the beginning: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a web series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The setting is contemporary and the premise is the following: Lizzie is a Master’s student who started recording a video blog with the help of her best friend Charlotte. There are three Bennet sisters instead of five – in this version, Mary is a cousin and Kitty is, in what I thought was a delightful touch, the actual family cat – but despite these changes the order of events is actually very faithful to Austen’s novel.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie and Charlotte dressed up as Mr and Mrs Bennet
Lizzie and Charlotte dressed up as Mr and Mrs Bennet.

I’m not going to review the series in depth (Renay and I are working on a discussion post for Lady Business, which will hopefully be up soon), but I’m going to tell you why you should watch it: first, I love how human it is. The pace of the series is slow, which allows the characters to be fleshed out and their motivations to be carefully considered in a way that goes beyond what the original does (explicitly, at least). The characters are all treated with kindness and given the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, the acting and the production value are both amazing. Thirdly, it’s smart, funny, charming, delightful, and it passes the Bechdel Test with great ease. Although there are plenty of swoon-worthy romance moments, the angle of Pride and Prejudice this adaptation brings to the forefront is the coming of age story. This is a series about a young woman and her sisters and best friend, all twenty-somethings who experience personal growth, who are trying to figure out what they want the next stage of their lives to be like, and who have meaningful, emotionally charged relationships with each other.

Last but not least, there’s ease of access: you can start watching the series for free right now by heading over to YouTube. There are 82 episodes so far, but that’s not as daunting as it sounds because they’re all between 3 and 6 minutes long. I started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in October, when there were already close to 70 episodes, but it only took me two days to get up to date. You don’t have to binge like I did, though – you can catch up by watching an episode here and there and I bet you’ll be done before you know it. 3 to 6 minutes, after all, is the perfect length for a coffee break.

Another thing: the series is kind of a multimedia experience, with the characters all having Twitter and Tumblr accounts, and with Lydia having her own YouTube channel in addition to Lizzie’s. I realise this can be intimidating – knowing there’s too much out there can paralyse people because they don’t know where to start. But the good news is that you can watch and read as little or as much as you want and the story will make sense. Don’t want to go beyond Lizzie’s videos? That’s absolutely fine. Want to obsessively follow all the characters on Twitter and consume every story crumb they throw your way? That works too.

So: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are awesome and you should be watching them. If you’re already a fan, consider this post an open invitation to come squee with me. If you’re not and decide to give them a try, I’d absolutely love to hear what you think.

28 comments:

Care said...

*Smiles* I am sure that I should watch this but TV shows are like books -TOO MANY! I am still trying to watch the BBC Bleak House miniseries and have yet to catch any Downton Abbey. Plus I have a backlist of movies to watch because I have read the book and well. I probably won't get to this.

BUT I adore your enthusiasm. :)

irisonbooks.com said...

I admit, I am slightly obsessed with this series. It's so lovely and real and human, and I love how they've translated it to a multi media age and how it updates so many of the issues touched upon in the book. I agree, even though I feel everyone already knows about this series, I think there might be many who are missing out.

And Care, do please give this one a chance. It definitely deserves to go on your To Be Watched list, and it's not nearly as long as BBC Bleak House of Downton Abbey. But I realise I may be inappropriately pushing this series on people.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

OMG I had no idea Hank Green was the producer! How did I miss that? Heading over to youtube to catch up right now! :--)

Amy @ Turn the Page said...

Tried them. Can't stand them lol. But I think I'm the only one who knows about it who feels that way....

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Care: Anything I'd like to say Iris already has for me :P

Iris: I knooow. And I love how it's been getting darker in a way that's serious and thoughtful and never exploitative. Sigh, I worry so much about Lydia.

Jill: Yes! It's a team effort, of course, with lots of talented people involved - but I think his sensibility shows :D Let me know what you think!

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Amy: Aw, I'm sorry to hear it! But to each their own and etc :P

Clare said...

I am so very, very bad. I watched the first five episodes, got distracted, and now the backlog haunts me as my work is piling up. I'll get to it! I will! I promise! I will say that one of the professors at my college, who teaches a Jane Austen class every two years, is utterly delighted by it.

Amy said...

I've never read the original so even though so many people I love, love this I just haven't felt the pull to watch it. But maybe I'll read it so I can feel like I'm getting the full impact

alitareads said...

I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!

I've been following from the get go and, like Iris, I am somewhat obsessed with it - I have a twitter list of all the characters, I follow most of their tumblrs, and watch the new episodes the moment they are posted.

But what I love most about the series is how involved the fans are. Everyone is rooting for Lizzie and Darcy and agonizing over Lydia and Wickham, and it's a wondrous sight to see.

Speaking of Lydia and Wickham - OH THE AGONIZING INDEED! It pains me to watch the two of them, but I think the way this part of the story has been modernized is brilliant. I think that the horror that Elizabeth felt for Lydia in the book is something that's often missed by modern readers. But I think that the sinking feeling we feel for TLBD Lydia is very close to what the first readers of the book felt. The only part that doesn't seem to be translating over is that in the original Lydia seemed completely oblivious to her plight and what she put her family through. I don't know if TLBD Lydia is going to come through this situation with the same sparkle.

Larissa said...

I had never heard of this show! One more this to catch up with, then... Thanks for posting about it!

Kristi said...

I will squee right along with you. I love these. Melissa (avid reader) introduced me to them via twitter during the summer (I think). I blew them in an afternoon and have been watching it ever since. It's so painful having to wait three or four days for a new episode. At least there will be a new one tomorrow. Hoping for some more Darcy and Gigi. Love them!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I love this series! (Kristi, I'm so glad you ended up watching them and loved them!) I was watching a TV show the other day and the girl who plays Charlotte was playing a barista and I freaked out.

Aarti said...

WHAT? I knew nothing of this! And, I admit, 82 episodes DOES sound daunting, but I hope I am up to the task. How lovely. Thanks for sharing the news!

Jenny said...

I didn't even know this existed! Thanks for the recommendation. I will check it out, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say about it on Lady Business.

Tasha B. said...

I watched the first three episodes when this started years ago. But when I'm on the computer I feel guilty if I'm not working, so.

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of it, but it sounds like something I would love! Thank you very much for the tip. I love your blog btw. I stumbled over your gorgeous blog name and have been visiting on an almost daily basis for weeks. Keep it up, it's very lovely! :)
Cheers from Germany, Nora (I don't have a blog).

Charlie said...

I started watching it back-to-back a while ago and liked it, but the pacing left me confused as to what was happening sometimes. I do like the way they've adapted it however, and the changes and extras they've made. It makes the book more accessible.

Meghan said...

I discovered this only last week and I've watched half of the episodes since then - I have a feeling I'll catch up in no time!

So far I've been really impressed by how well the writers have modernized it and how amazing all of the actors are. I'm so glad I found it and I'm very glad you're spreading the word so others can too.

Heidi said...

Mmhmm, you KNOW I'm in the obsessively follow them on Twitter and watch both Lizzie and Lydia's videos category of crazy about the LBD. I'm so in love with this adaptation. You are so right though about assuming it's more widely known than it is! I just had a girlfriend go to a Harry and the Potters show not too long ago, and I STILL had to explain to her who Hank (and John) Green was and why she should check out more of their stuff--like the LBD. I've pitched this to every P&P fan I know, but you're right, it can be very intimidating. I love that they've made this series as interactive or non-interactive with various levels of involvement as possible.

Holly said...

I've been a avid LBD watcher from the beginning. I'm so glad they're getting lots of exposure from bloggers right now so more potential fans can enjoy them.

youbookmeallnightlong said...

I'm totally addicted to the LBD! Funnily enough, several of the blogs I read have had posts about it lately. I also love Lydia's vlog -- the later entries have been kind of heartbreaking!

Sarah Park said...

I love this series. One of my favorite, actually.

Debi said...

Sheesh...here's a moment of feeling ridiculously old and out-of-touch--I'd never even heard of this before. Okay, that's not surprising to either one of us, is it? :P Ahh, but this is yet another reason I have to feel grateful to have you in my life. :D

Thalita Carvalho said...

I'm watching LBD and I simply love the show! Great post!

Heather said...

Sold! I'll start tonight. :D

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Clare: Do get to them! This fandom needs you! Think of all the fun chats we could have :P

Amy: If it helps, lots of people haven't either and they're huge fans. Just thought I'd mention that :P #subtle

Alita: I've been following the tumblr tag more closely these past few weeks and the fan involvement is indeed a joy to see. The Lydia/Wickham storyline is KILLING ME and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. Oh Lydia :( I so want her to be okay.

Larissa: You're most welcome!

Kristi: I knoooow - especially when the episodes are so short! But on the other hand they're well worth waiting for.

Melissa: Hahaha, I totally would too :D

Aarti: See, that's exactly why I wrote this post - I figured some of you wouldn't know about them yet. Remember that most episodes are under 5 minutes, so if it were a normal length TV show we'd be talking about 20 episodes or so.

Jenny: You're welcome! I hope that Iris and I have managed to convince you. And when/if you watch them, let me know what you think!

Tasha: Perfect length for a break, though! Remember that it's important to rest your wrists from time to time :P

Nora: Aw, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy the series!

Joanna said...

I just watched the first two episodes because of Iris' post on this! I'm definitely intrigued, if not hooked yet. I absolutely love the multimedia aspect, it's wonderful how creative people are!

Jenny said...

What happens when there is a lull in regular TV: I binge on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. :p I've been staying up late watching the series for the past few nights. Aw, it was a really adorable show! I thought that occasionally things got a leetle bit more emote-y than was warranted by the writing LYDIA, but overall I thought it was so well done. I have told my friend about it. Doing my bit.

(I wish there was one master playlist you could choose, that would loop in all the Lydia and Gigi videos. That would be cool.)

Also it was so great how important everyone's careers were to them. That made me happy. I liked it that Jane and Lizzie were both unwilling to make bad job choices for dudes.