Review: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Like many others, I spend countless hours perusing random videos on Youtube. Charlie McDonnell, Alex Day, Chris Kendall, Danisnotonfire, and the Vlog Brothers are some just of my favorite Youtube personalities. On April 12 2012, I came across Hank Green’s video “Introducing Lizzie Bennet,” in which he prefaced his most ambitious video project, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”
“With the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to tell the story almost entirely from Lizzie’s perspective by her telling the story to us. It’s very unusual: there are no proven successes in this format, so it’s really a risk,” posted Hank Green on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries home page.
I’ve been a fan of Jane Austen for years, so I subscribed immediately when I found The LBD channel last April. What I found was a modernized adaption of “Pride and Prejudice,” one of my favorite of Austen’s works. The channel is narrated by Lizzie Bennet, a vlogger who is experiencing the events of “Pride and Prejudice” in real time with each new episode.
By Episode 3 I was completely hooked on the channel. As the show progressed, classic characters were introduced, including Charlotte Lucas (renamed Charlotte Lu,) Jane, Lydia, Mary and Kitty Bennet, George Wickham, Bingley (renamed Bing Lee,) Caroline Bingley, and of course, the infamous William Darcy. This Austen adaption is unique in that all of the characters are competent with cell phones, video cameras and social media. This isn’t your average tale of the decorum obsessed English countryside.
As a fan, I could choose to further explore the Lizzie Bennet Diaries by following the characters’ interactions on Facebook, Tumblr and twitter. The pages serve as tools to keep the fictional world “alive” for the audience in between episodes.
Episode 100, the very last of the series, was released on Youtube on March 28. 2013. Looking back on a year of following the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I’m faced with the question ‘did they pull it off?’ Yes, but with plot discrepancies inconsistent with the novel. I found that the casting decisions were made perfectly. Mary Kate Wiles, who played Lydia Bennet, had me rolling in laughter with her portrayal of Lizzie’s extravagant younger sister. Lizzie Bennet and William Darcy, portrayed by Ashley Clements and Daniel Gordh, were entrancing and believable.
My favorite scene in the original “Pride and Prejudice” was Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s final confrontation with Lizzie Bennet. The latter stands up for herself and disregards importance of family connections or socio-economic status. This crucial part of the story was barely explored in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which was disappointing. Overall however, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries built the world of Jane Austen in modern times very impressively. As long as “Pride and Prejudice” stays alive as a story, I don’t mind if some of the details are missing.