The introduction of famous authors of yore like Shakespeare and Austen, the books that high schoolers were required to read in English class, into the modern era has come in waves of massive success. It probably came about with Westside StoryIt focused on teens in the 1960s, then exploded in the 1990s with some of the most popular teen movies of all time. Of course, that doesn’t always work. For each 10 things I hate about you which fixed the glaring errors in the Bard’s original story, there is a Cruel intentionswhose high school setting misses what made the novel so great. clueless is one of the best and most quotable movies of the 1990s, convictionthe semi-modern adaptation You Forgot was one of the biggest disappointments of 2022.
To successfully modernize a classic story, one must not only understand why the story is so timeless, but also update the parts of the story that don’t work when modernized. When you film a book, you’re already taking out a big part of why the books are so popular, the voice of the author. Then, when you adapt a 19th-century book by bringing it into the 21st century, you also remove much of the dialogue. No one brings out the purple prose and iambic pentameter in a supposedly down-to-earth modern world except for a cheeky quote here and there.
So if you have source material such as Jane Austen’s seminal work pride and prejudice, what do you have left? Take in the author’s original voice, the grandiose sets from the Regency-era 2005 film or BBC 1995 mini-series, and the iconic and romantic lines of dialogue. Take all of that away and you still have some of the best character dynamics ever written, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done that much better.
The Diaries of Lizzie Bennet is not a TV show but a web series that you can now watch for free on YouTube. It was created by Hank Green And Bernie Suand it was a project that ran for a full year from March 2012 to March 2013. It adapted, as is usual with these projects, the basic plot line of pride and prejudice. After Elizabeth Bennet, here shortened to Lizzie and played by Ashley Clementsher adventures with her sisters Jane (Laura Spencer) and Lydia (Mary-Kate Wiles) and of course the ultimate enmity story between her and William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordon). Racy scandal, heartwarming romance and hilarious repartee are all still there, George Wickham (Wes Anderhold) is still a jerk, and the heart of the story just gets three times bigger with the massive facelift.
It’s been just a decade since the show’s last official episode, and last year saw anniversary celebrations. Let’s take a look The Diaries of Lizzie Bennet and why it deserves to be hailed as one of the best pride and prejudice Adaptations, and certainly the best modern ones, sorry Bridget Jones.
Instead of writing letters, Elizabeth Bennet speaks to a camera
The format is the first thing you’ll notice about the show, which arguably ages it to the early to mid-2010s. The storyline is told primarily through Lizzie’s personal video logs, vlogs she uploads to YouTube as part of her master’s degree. Vlogs look very different these days, absolutely, so consider this a time capsule to what the social media space was ten years ago. It was far more than just a series that already had 100 episodes back then, but a years-long social media experience. Every character, Lizzie, her family, her best friend Charlotte (Julia Cho), all had their own Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. This was long before the term parasocial relationship was in the cultural zeitgeist, but the intention here was for every viewer to feel like they were part of the story just by staying tuned in.
Earlier in this article, I talked about what a modern take on Pride and Prejudice would have left if the historical elements were removed, which is the character dynamics. The chosen format for The Diaries of Lizzie Bennet is the perfect place to add context and weight to already established contexts such as the closeness between Lizzie and Jane and the friendship between Lizzie and Charlotte. It also allows for new elements of an underdeveloped dynamic to emerge, like the level-headed and sensible Charlotte, who always confronts her friend behind the camera about her prejudice against others, despite the story being written from Lizzie’s perspective. The masterpiece of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and its “characters face the camera and speak their mind” style is the voice they gave to the unjustly maligned character of Pride and Prejudice: Lydia Bennet.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries gives Lydia Bennet justice
In the original novel there are five sisters, but in The Diaries of Lizzie BennetMaria (Briana Cuco) is now a cousin who makes a brief appearance, and Kitty is, well, a kitten. This allows for a greater focus on the three main characters, Lizzie, Jane and Lydia. George Wickham is intentionally bad, but Lydia Bennet is a character who is often reviled in the book as reckless, carefree, and flighty. While her unmarried rendezvous would have done a lot of damage to her family at the time, that kind of attitude wasn’t going to fly in 2012.
Lizzie is still judgmental of her sister in the beginning, but Lydia, who is known for being energetic, funny and bubbly, knows this and resents it. She is absolutely a party animal, someone who needs to grow up a lot. However, it is clear from her side series and from Wiles’ performance, which is both hilarious and heartbreaking, that she is someone with the purest of intentions. Lydia doesn’t make a stupid, impulsive decision to elope with Wickham, rather he takes advantage of the fact that Lydia felt lonely and abandoned by her family and takes advantage of that. Instead of Lizzie and her family doing well despite Lydia, they come together and support her through a tough time because she’s the one who gets hurt the most and that’s the development the story needed.
This is why The Lizzie Bennet Diaries gained so many fans and was the first web series to win an Emmy Award. It’s also why that one web series became sort of a subgenre for 2010’s YouTube. Pemberley Digital was born, from the creators of LBDand they made other adjustments, such as The March Family Letters (little woman), Emma approves (Emma), And Frankenstein MD (Frankenstein). After that it really started and Pemberley Digital was far from the only game in town. Each classic novel got its own little series that gave them modern twists, gender flips and even queer lenses, and it really was a lovely time being an internet-addicted teenager and a classics nerd. However, like all trends, it faded within a few years The Diaries of Lizzie Bennet showed what a small budget, a lot of ambition, a dedicated creative team and a love of Jane Austen can do.
https://collider.com/lizzie-bennet-diaries-jane-austen/ This award-winning series has perfected the modern day Jane Austen adaptation