Lost in Austen: Episode 4

“That’s Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer.”

Still following Pride and Prejudice, this episode sees Lydia run off (but not with who you might expect) and Mrs. Bennet panic, rejoice, and fret over wedding clothes in equal measure. After that, things fly off the rails rather completely.

The duel that Mrs. Bennet so fears in the book takes place resulting in Mr. Bennet receiving a serious head injury. Thus, Amanda is forced to get back to modern day London and find Elizabeth so that she might be with her father. Amanda and Elizabeth in modern times is one of my favorite scenes in the show. Elizabeth texts, is on a macrobiotic diet, and knows how to work the internet. It’s just so bizarre. As you might have predicted, Darcy follows Amanda which leads to some funny moments as well.

When Amanda got back home, I was thinking the episode might go the It’s a Wonderful Life route. Michael would turn out to be not all that bad and her real life would be better for having spent some time in her favorite book. Not so. Michael does shape up a bit (he sells his beloved motorcycle to buy her a vacation!) but she still has a thing for Darcy. So, I suppose the overarching message of the series is that it’s not a wonderful life, but that it’s a crappy life, and it’s preferable to live in a fictional world. I don’t particularly have a problem with that sentiment, I just felt it merited pointing out.

I spent a while really thinking Wickham and Amanda would end up together. I almost like him more than Darcy in this. That’s weird, right? He’s more...fun. He’s helpful and heroic and selfless and amusing. Darcy is the stuff dreams are made of, it’s true. He’s handsome and rich, but I do have a problem with dumping Amanda for Caroline. The Darcy of the books doesn’t exactly buck society when he marries Lizzy, but it is not what is expected of him nor what his family wants. This Darcy feels a little too much the need to fulfill society’s expectations of himself. It wouldn’t bother me quite so much but we have modern sensibilities right in front of us in Amanda.

Perhaps it’s that Darcy is too indecisive or that his matrimonial plans change too quickly. In the past hour of the series, he goes from wanting to marry Amanda to Caroline to Amanda to possibly Lizzy back to Amanda. Austen’s Darcy is nowhere near as indecisive. It would have been vastly preferable if the writers had left out Darcy’s proposal to Caroline. It was only there to move the story along and include her character. This might’ve been accomplished a better way.

What’s interesting about Lost in Austen is the way the characters change over the course of the show. Many of the characters in Pride and Prejudice change over the course of the book, but in Lost in Austen the changes are more dramatic, as is appropriate given the more dramatic presence of modern day Amanda Price. Most of the characters learn to put less stock in what society thinks of them and to make themselves happy, even if that means pushing the boundaries on what is considered acceptable.

Others change a little more than that. Jane spends the entirety of Pride and Prejudice as a sweet, helpful, mostly perfect girl without a mean thought in her pretty little head. Lost in Austen’s Jane has become cynical thanks to her disastrous marriage and losing the love of her life to gin. I can see that happening. What I find a little less believable is Mrs. Bennet now being able to stand up for herself and her family and shout at Lady Catherine. Still, it’s a nice moment and helps to mend her relationship with her husband.

All in all, we get our happy ending. For reasons that are never completely explained, Collins did not deflower Jane, leaving her free to get an annulment from him and run off to America with Bingley. Darcy and Amanda find each other in Pemberly, and it looks like Caroline and Wickham might end up married. I’ve never been a fan of that bit. It would’ve been fine if Caroline weren’t a lesbian, but she is, so it feels like she’s just latching onto the first man she sees in a desperate attempt to have a husband. The show mixes modern sensibilities with nineteenth century ones and does it in an unclear way. Now it’s okay for Darcy to marry the despoiled Amanda but not okay for Caroline to live out her life sans man? It’s only a minor flaw in an otherwise charming miniseries, but it could’ve been avoided. The first time I watched this I thought Caroline and Lady Catherine might hook up. That would’ve tied everything up neatly.

Bits and Pieces:

How long has Amanda been gone? Long enough for Michael to text her 75 times but not long enough for him to call the police and report her missing?

The first thing Amanda does when she gets home is brush her teeth sans chalk.

So how meta is this: on a show about a real life person falling into a book, a character from the book looks up another character from the book on the internet and finds another actor who played that character in another miniseries based on the original book? Okay, my head hurts now.

Mr. Bennet advises Lizzy to go back to Hammersmith in the same manner that the book version of Mr. Bennet tells Lizzy she does not have to marry Mr. Collins.

In a lot of the final scenes, you can see the actors’ breath. This really bothers me as it’s supposed to be a mild spring day.

Elliot Cowan looks more like a Heathcliff than a Mr. Darcy to me. Thoughts?

What happens to Charlotte Lucas? We just leave her alone in Africa? That seems a little cruel.

Quotes:

Darcy: “I have asked Miss Bingley to be my wife and she has consented to the task. Thank you for your attention. Dinner is at six.”

Amanda: “Lady Nora?”
Wickham: “That’s a perfectly good name for the wife of a successful fishmonger.”

Mr. Bennet: “Shocking business, bleeding on a fellow’s rugs this time of year. What would Lady Catherine say?”

Amanda: “This physician of yours, Mr. Darcy, can he do stitches?”
Darcy: “Stitches? He’s not a dressmaker.”
Yeah, this is gonna go great.

Bingley: “Oh God, I’ve let the woman I love run through my hands like mercury and now her father lies dying by my hand.”
If Bingley regularly lets mercury run through his hands, that would explain some of his personality defects: brain damage.

Darcy: “Surfeit of negroes.”
Amanda: “Tourette’s. Sorry.”

Lizzy: “That’s my dress. It looks good on you. It would not fit me now. I’m macrobiotic.”

Lizzy: “I must switch off the appliances. My employers are most anxious about the size of their footprint.”

Amanda: “Elizabeth Bennet is lending me her mobile.”

Amanda: “Alright, this is what we’re going to do. You are taking him through there right now. The rest of us are gonna say goodbye nicely and watch you step through all that plumbing into fictional Georgian England, and that’ll be it. And then we’ll all spend the rest of our lives in therapy. It’s going to be fine.”

Pirhana: “Amanda, I’m black. What’s more, I cannot live without chocolate, electricity, or bog paper.”
Amanda: “Well, they have chocolate.”

Mr. Bennet: “Oh, I always prefer to die at home.”

Wickham: “Quite a houseful, Miss Price. Where am I to sleep?”
Amanda: “I am grateful to you, George, but where you put yourself tonight is not my concern. Perhaps you should address yourself to Mr. Collins.”
Wickham: “I doubt if Mr. Collins is equipped to give me satisfaction with regards to this inquiry.”
Amanda: “Then you must take matters into your own hands.”
It’s an old joke, but I’m a sucker for the classics.

three out of four homemade spears

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