Lost in Austen: Episode 1

“Is this like the Jim Carrey thing but period?”

As I child, I loved stories which found our main character trapped in a fictional realm, a painting, or (best of all) a book, so it’s no surprise that I adore this series past reason. Meet Amanda Price, an everygirl living in modern day London and completely obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. One day, Miss Elizabeth Bennet pops up in her bathroom and invites Amanda into the world of Pride and Prejudice. Yes, it’s a bit of a corny concept, but once you get over that, the series is fantastic. Whimsical, silly, sweet, meta, and ultimately hilarious: this show is a definite must-see if you’re an Austen fan.

The first episode has a lot to get through. The pace was brisk but not overly rushed and introduces us to the characters well. It’s not my favorite episode, however, for a couple of reasons. The entire series is rather cheesy, but the opening scenes stretch even my cheddar limits. Also, while a lot of the dialogue is quite funny (see overly long quotes section below), the real funny comes later. Basically, it’s a good episode, but there are others that are better.

Amanda’s life pre-Pride and Prejudice is tolerable, but not ideal. Her job is dull, her parents divorced, and I wouldn’t exactly characterize her boyfriend as a catch. Amanda’s situation subtly mimics Lizzy’s. Her mother is pushing her to get married to a guy clearly wrong for her just so she has someone (shades of Collins), her roommate Pirhana is ever so slightly Lydia-esque, and her parents are divorced, just like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet would be if they lived today. In addition, Amanda, like Lizzy, is different than your average girl and unsatisfied with what life looks to be holding for her.

Thankfully, things are about to change for her. I love Amanda being totally lost in the Austen world. As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, if I were to pop up there, I’d be just as as much of a disaster as Amanda. Her feeble curtsy with her shirt, her overfamiliarity with the characters she knows so well but who have yet to know her: all of it is pitch-perfect.

We meet the Bennets, who are, for the most part, very close to the book. It might be argued that Lord Grantham Claude Bennet is a little too kind and a little too soft, that Lydia is a good deal less annoying than she is written in the books, and that Caroline Bingley is much more bitchy than she ought to be, but it all ends up working. I love Amanda’s relationship with Dr. Elizabeth Cordray Mrs. Bennet. In the novel, Mrs. Bennet shows a competitiveness with the neighborhood mothers looking to get their daughters married, so it follows perfectly well that she would take an instant dislike to Amanda. The dynamic does get tired after a few episodes, but here at least it’s quite funny.

As soon as Amanda arrives, she begins to disrupt the natural order of things. After accidentally entrancing Mr. Bingley with the slightest hint of cleavage, Amanda goes to the Meryton dance, gets drunk and kisses Jane’s should-be husband after insulting most of the people she runs into and making singularly bad impressions all around. Whoops. I still can’t watch her interaction with Bingley and Darcy at the dance without cringing. And oh, does it get worse in later episodes.

Bits and Pieces:

On historical inaccuracies. There are many, but as we’re dealing with a show based on a woman traveling to a fictional realm through a door in her bathroom, I shall (for once) refrain from quibbling.

I love watching Amanda dance. She has no idea what she’s doing and it’s hilarious.

If Amanda was so desperate for a cigarette, why did she throw it aside after only a couple drags?

Quotes:

Pirhana: “How do I look?”
Amanda: “Like you put your lipstick on by eating it.”
Pirhana: “That’s as good as it gets.”

Lydia: “Oh, I’m Lydia, by the way.”
Amanda: “I know.”

Bingley: “Excellent fox hunting country, I hear.”
Kitty: “Well furnished with otters.”
Bingley: “Undoubtedly.”

Mary: “Do you have a psalter, Miss Price?”
Amanda: “Is that like a picnic thing, for seasoning sandwiches?”

Amanda: “I may be losing grip on reality, but I’m still in control of my hair.”

Lydia: “[Mr. Collins] might be tremendously handsome.”
Amanda: “I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”

Amanda: “How do you do?”
Caroline: “I am not choking, which must be counted in one’s favor.”

Bingley: “Darcy regards all forms of sudden locomotion as emblematic of ill breeding: hunting, tennis, rising precipitately from a chair...”

Caroline: “It is the ladies of the country whose crassness is unparalleled. As a mother of many daughters, you must find it wearing to have to lead by example in this field.”
Mrs. Bennet: “I do, Miss Bingley, I do.”

Amanda: “I mean, he’s not Colin Firth. But even Colin Firth isn’t Colin Firth. They had to change the shape of his head with makeup.”

three out of four mysterious doors

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved this show it was so much fun!! I may have to rewatch my DVD now :)

Anonymous said...

This is such charming and silly little show. I love it.
Anna

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with this show when I first saw it a couple of years ago and I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it :)
Fanny

M said...

Such a sweet and fun show. But, her hair bugged me the whole time!

Billie Doux said...

I've finally gotten around to renting Lost in Austen and it's just wonderful. I'll admit that the fact that Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow is in it gave me that final push.

M, I agree -- her hair just bugs me! It's so not right for the time period that it makes me want to sit her down and pin it up.

Loved the review, sunbunny. On to part 2.

ChrisB said...

This show has been in my Netflix queue forever. When it finally arrived today, I blew off everything else I was going to do tonight to watch it. And, wow, did I love this first episode.

I laughed out loud more than once. When I wasn't laughing, I had a big grin on my face. I squealed with fangirl glee when Bingley turned out to be Tom Mison. I would have kissed him, too!