When I was young, I used to love Pride and Prejudice, and yes, I still adore the BBC/A&E adaptation with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, but the numerous and subsequent adaptations have left me burned out. Which made me cautious to even test this series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
However, episode 1 “My Name Is Lizzie” was enough to get me hook. Thus, I have spent almost a full calendar year following this story. I’ve blogged about it and bonded with friends over it. Now the final episode has come and gone, and I am a little sad that I will not get to spend more time with Lizzie, Lydia, Charlotte, Jane, Fitz, Gigi, Darcy, and the rest.
My name is Emily, and this is my review.
I approached The Lizzie Bennet Diaries with trepidation. A few years ago the story of Romeo & Juliet had been played out entirely on twitter, which was awesome until characters started live-tweeting their deaths. Which was disappointing and painful. I wasn’t sure how vlogging would be any better. Wouldn’t Lizzie’s vlogs limit the audience to only her perspective?
Yes. Yes, it would. That’s the point.
Because the audience is limited to Lizzie’s perspective, LBD is better able to highlight the pride and prejudices of Lizzie Bennet, and not just in regards to Darcy.
Which brings me to my next point: LBD is the first adaption I have seen in which – for me at least – the love story of Lizzie and Darcy takes a backseat.
What I do love about Jane Austen’s original novel is that I do not see it as solely a romance. Instead it is the maturity of Lizzie and Darcy that and the critique of society that pervades Austen’s writings have resonated with me.
In fact, there is only one other adaption – save LBD – that I feel touches on these two themes: Bride & Prejudice. In that film, so much of the focus was on the cultural differences of Lalita & Darcy, albeit in an over-the-top and rather kitschy way.
I knew in LBD that Lizzie and Darcy were going to get together in the end. I knew that. It wouldn’t be Pride and Prejudice if Lizzie and Darcy didn’t get together. But this time around, I almost didn’t even care.
Instead of being a love story detailing how Lizzie and Darcy overcome their pride and prejudice and fall in love, LBD, for me, became a story of sisters.
I’ve said before that LBD is the first Pride and Prejudice adaption that has ever made me empathize, sympathize, and love Lydia Bennet, and I stand by that. By doing so – by fleshing Lydia out and making her a realized character and not just a plot device – I suddenly found myself utterly distraught over what I knew was going to have to happen and that I didn’t know how it would happen.
Oh, dramatic irony, how cruel you are!
Jane, Lizzie, Lydia – all three of the Bennet sisters (Mary was changed to a cousin, and Kitty became… well, a cat) were faced with confrontations and life-altering choices. The difference between Pride and Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is that for the first time I had an understanding of Jane and Lydia’s motivations and responses to the events.
Yes, I was happy when Lizzie and Darcy finally admitted their mutual feelings for each other, but the climax of the story came earlier than that in episode 87, “An Understanding.”3
Were there any flaws in the series? At times, yes. To be honest, the episodes that were the most faithful to Pride and Prejudice were sometimes hard for me. I enjoyed them and recognized their importance to the story, and Darcy Day was exceptionally wonderful, but sometimes they felt a little stilted.
(Also, what happened to Mary? I really liked Mary. And she just… disappeared.)
But these flaws were forgotten in the light of the freshness of the writing and the impeccable casting. For the first time I was fascinated by the lives of the secondary characters. Charlotte displayed such ambition and strength. Jane’s breakdown over Bing’s conduct toward her, and her resolve when they made up was far more pleasing than pining girl I had seen her as before. Gigi had spunk and independence, something that I did not expect. Caroline managed manipulate not just Lizzie but myself as I knew I should hate her but I still found her oddly appealing.
And Darcy managed to be everything Lizzie had warned us about but also so much more. And so much better.
So thank you to the cast and crew of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for taking a rather worn-out classic and giving me a new understanding of its story and characters.
Madams & sirs, here are my ten personal favorite episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in chronological order:
“Isn’t that Colin Firth’s name in that chubby Zellwegger movie?”
Ep. 6, “Snobby Mr. Douchey”
“What? That’s totally how guys talk.”
“Many of these people seem to be enjoying popular music un-ironically.”
Ep. 15, “Lizzie Bennet Is In Denial”
Jane’s portrayal of Darcy is just brilliant.
“Are you fake texting?”
“It’s super important.”
Ep. 48, “Snickerdoodles”
Jane, girl, I empathize. Guys, you suck. You all suck.
Ep. 60, “Are You Kidding Me!”
Ep. 74, “How To Hold A Grudge” & Lydia’s video, “Dear Lizzie”
I have a sister. This is how sisters fight.
Ep. 78, “The Lizzie Trap”
“Are you always this weird?”
“I j—Would that keep the camera on?”
Ep. 87, “An Understanding”
This episode speaks for itself.
Ep. 98, “Gratitude”
“My name is Lizzie Bennet, and you guys didn’t think I’d leave you hanging like that, did you?”
“I thought you were Chinese.”
Ep. 99, “Future Talk”
“My name is William Darcy, and Lizzie Bennet is amazing.”
AH! THE FEELS! And the end! THE END OF THAT EPISODE! I CAN’T HANDLE IT!