The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

“Save the world; change the culture!”

Pride and Prejudice for the YouTube generation, this iteration of the story is comic, well written, and fun. I went into it with a great deal of skepticism; I finished it a fan.

Told over the course of 100 diary entries, ranging from three to six minutes, we meet Lizzie and her circle and watch as she falls in love with Darcy. Lizzie is a twenty-four year old grad student, with a mountain of student loans, living at home and preparing for a career. Her favorite movie star is Colin Firth. Her best friend is Charlotte; her younger sister is Lydia who is “a bit of a slut;” her older sister is Jane who is “practically perfect in every way.” Her mother is controlling; her father is wonderful.

Lizzie is the main face on camera, with frequent guest spots from Charlotte and her sisters. Lizzie acts out her parents and we only hear about Caroline, Bing, Darcy, and Collins long before they actually appear on our screens.

Somehow, it works. It probably helps that I know the story so well, but I was able to follow exactly what was happening with no problem. The videos follow the basic story much more closely than I would have guessed. Yes, the balls become dances and weddings and there is a lot of meeting at the local bar, Carter’s, to play video games, but the basic bones are identical.

The story kicks off when Bing Lee, rich, handsome, and single, moves into the neighborhood and runs into the family at a mutual friend’s wedding. With him is Darcy, aka Mr. Douchey, who is richer and more handsome than Bing, but too obnoxious to be taken seriously. Jane and Bing hit it off and, eventually, we meet Bing and Caroline while Jane and Lizzie are staying at their house because the Bennet house is being renovated.

The most interesting part of the series for me was when Mr. Collins, Ricky, proposes to Lizzie. What he offers this out of work grad student with money problems is a very lucrative job. Of course she turns it down, but for the first time since I have been reading this story (and it’s been over forty years), I got a real sense of what Elizabeth gives up when she refuses Mr. Collins in the book.

This was also the point that the series got much more emotional. There is a series of episodes in which we see Charlotte accept Ricky’s job offer, Lizzie try to talk her out of it, and Lizzie really miss her friend. The series transitioned from strictly humorous to serious, but because we had spent so much time with these people, it worked. It also worked because the show didn’t wallow. It took the time to make this beat work and then it moved on.

The last twenty or so episodes took this story to a whole other level, one that was true to the source material, yet updated it so that it resonated with an emotion that I am not sure I have ever completely felt in other iterations of this story I have seen.

Lydia gets involved with George, now Lizzie’s ex, and what he does to her is simply wretched. Unlike the book, Lydia is completely aware of what he has done and we have to watch as this vibrant, funny, obnoxious young woman’s world shatters. Her sisters are there to help her through, but there is an episode in which Lydia collapses into Lizzie’s arms that moved me beyond the telling of it. I didn’t think it was possible to feel sympathy for this character, but I did. Quite a bit.

If you know the story, you know how it is going to end. It takes us until Episode 98, but the scene where Darcy and Lizzie finally come together is simply wonderful. It is sweet and romantic and I loved it. By this time, we have spent nearly six hours with these characters and their HEA is well earned. I watched 98 three times, grinning like an idiot throughout.

The one downside of this series is that 100 episodes is a lot and there is more than one episode that is pure filler. They do, to a degree, give us some insight into the people talking, but they can drag a bit. It also took a while for me to get into the story. I wanted to get this review up, so I had scheduled 20 episodes a day. By the time I had finished 40, however, I dropped everything to marathon through the rest.

This is a simply wonderful update on the classic story. The girls all have school, jobs and each other. Their men, while they love them and choose to be with them, are not the endgame -- a refreshing change over the past 200 years.

If you love Pride and Prejudice, this will not disappoint. I didn’t want it to end.


LaureMack said...

Fabulous review ChrisB! I am sold. I have never heard of this series, where can I find it???

ChrisB said...

Sorry, LaureMack. I meant to put where to watch this at the end of my review and flaked.

The entire series is on YouTube. Just do a search and the entire series will come up under one tab. It's very easy to watch as the site will automatically take you from one episode to the next.

Paul Hillier said...

It's definitely an amazing series on youtube. They had a kickstarter a while back that was a HUGE success. I especially liked Lydia and the writing for her.

sunbunny said...

Finally finished it. Really cute. Bing Lee was almost unbearably cute and they managed to translate Jane's sweetness to the modern era without making her too unrealistic.