Web Video: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Lizzie Bennet is a normal young woman, pursuing a Master's degree in communications and desiring nothing more than to be her own person. This is in clear contrast to her mom, who just wants to get Lizzie and her two sisters married off to someone rich as soon as possible. She even got them all shirts saying "It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife
." Lizzie doesn't buy it, and is going to explain exactly why to the whole internet in the form of video blogs.
When the handsome and rich Bing Lee moves into town, with his infuriatingly snobby and even-richer friend William Darcy in tow, Lizzie's life is thrown into disarray as her entire family starts clamouring for his attention. Thankfully, armed with a camera, her friend Charlotte's editing expertise and a healthy dose of snark, Lizzie is ready to document this social catastrophe as it unfolds.
If you haven't realized yet, this is a modernized Vlog Series adaptation
of Pride and Prejudice
, written by Bernie Su and produced in part by Hank Green
. Though it's scarcely the only update of P&P
, what was surprising was the exciting and devoted fan reaction: the show boasts close to 200,000 YouTube
subscribers and its DVD release raised 500% of its goal on Kickstarter within just one week of its month-long fundraising drive. It can be found on YouTube
or at its own website
. Oh, and then it won an Emmy for "Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media - Original Interactive Program," which is pretty darn impressive.
There is also a novelization
of the series called The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
, which consists of her written diary from the same time period. It serves partly as a novelization and partly as a companion piece to the videos, often expanding in greater details upon subjects that for practical reasons are only hinted at in the videos.
It has started a trend of Setting Updates diaries appearing on Youtube, both professional and fan made. The Autobiography of Jane Eyre
referenced the LBDs in its first episode and its authors cite it as their inspiration; likewise, a New Zealand group called "The Candle Wasters" have taken on the Bard himself
, transplanting Much Ado About Nothing
to a contemporary high school as "Nothing Much To Do
," and British group "Foot in the Door" are adapting Mansfield Park as From Mansfield With Love
. Meanwhile, it's been followed by its own Spinoffs
: Welcome To Sanditon
follows Gigi Darcy in her adventure to a beach resort Sanditon, beta-testing the "Domino" application, which records, auto-edits and auto-uploads video monologues and dialogues, and covering Austen's unfinished last novel Sandition
. Another spinoff, Emma Approved
, launched in October 2013, chronicling through Domino the adventures of Professional Shipper on Deck Emma Woodhouse
. And they have branched out of the world of Austen with Frankenstein M.D.
, following the career of the bioethically-challenged Victoria Frankenstein
; and with The March Family Letters
concerning the daily shenanigans of the March Sisters
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries provide examples of:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The books didn't portray Lydia particularly sympathetically and would have probably been criticized if they did. In this series, we get to see a heartbroken Lydia sobbing in Lizzie's arms in episode 87.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Charlotte and Mary. Both described as plain women in the book, both very pretty in this vlog.
- Adaptation Distillation: Kitty and Mary Bennet are cut from the sisterhood to better focus on the contrasts between the three more prominent sisters. It's later revealed that Kitty is actually a cat and Mary is a cousin that Lizzie "always forgets about".
- Adaptation Name Change: Several.
- Charlotte Lucas becomes Charlotte Lu as part of her Race Lift.
- Charles Bingley becomes Bing Lee, getting a race lift in the process. By extension, his sister Caroline Bingley becomes Caroline Lee.
- Fitzwilliam Darcy is updated to William Darcy.
- Probably to avoid confusion with Darcy, William Collins has become Ricky Collins. Presumably short for Richard, but we never find out, as he always insists on being referred to as "Mr Collins."
- Darcy's sister's full name is still Georgiana, but most people call her Gigi.
- Colonel Fitzwilliam is now Fitz Williams.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Some episode titles are alliterative.
- "Friends Forever"
- "Convertible Carpool"
- "Swimming with Scissors"
- "Staff Spirit"
- "Sisterly Support"
- Adorkable: Gigi, Mary, and Maria. Darcy and Bing also show flashes of this. Many think Mr. Collins is this too. And Lizzie herself.
- Adult Fear: A large part of the story revolves around the Bennets' financial troubles and fears of losing their house. After Wickham announces he intends to release a tape of him having sex with Lydia, the sisters have to tell their father about what's been happening. Lizzie's account of it is heartbreaking. They somehow chose not to involve police and it's implied that they can't afford legal action and take it to the court.
- Age Lift: The series' modern setting wouldn't fit with 15-year old Lydia or 16-year old Georgiana. Lydia's two older sisters are several years older than their book counterparts as well. Inverted with Charlotte, who was 27 in the book, but is Lizzie's age, 24 years old, in the adaptation.
- Ambiguously Jewish: There's a passing reference to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet going to Uncle Phil's Hannukah party. Although they also celebrate Christmas...
- Angrish: Lizzie, when confronted to Mr. Collins.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: What, you didn't see this one coming?
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Lydia. Some of Gigi's antics could make her one as well.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- Maria asks Charlotte why she always calls Ricky "Mr. Collins." Charlotte can only reply with a series of facial expressions.
- Jane asks Lizzie what she plans to do with herself after her degree, and (on a greater level) what she wants from her life. The normally-voluble Lizzie is not much more eloquent than was Charlotte.
- Ascended Extra:
- Charlotte is much more important than her book counterpart ever was.
- Caroline has been expanded as well and is arguably a secondary antagonist.
- In the novel, Colonel Fitzwilliam sort of drops off after his big scene. The Fitz character was playing matchmaker.
- Charlotte's sister Maria is a minor character in the novel, so unimportant she's left out of most adaptations. In LBD she gets a short spin-off thaf helps reconcile Charlotte and Lizzie.
- Gigi is much more prominent. She plays matchmaker to Lizzie and Darcy, along with Fitz, reveals what happened between her and Wickham on her own, and gets her own spin-off.
- Bad Bad Acting: Whenever one of the characters steps in to play a different one, this happens to some degree. Their acting styles also say a lot about themselves:
- Lizzie caricatures and exaggerates, at least partially.
- Lydia overacts. Flamboyantly.
- Jane starts out as a Deer in the Headlights every time the camera lands on her, but Character Development allows her to showcase her growing thespianism. (Must go with the red hair!)
- Charlotte gives realistic but emotionally cold and uninterested performances.
- And the one exception to all of this is when any of the above do impressions of each other, which are typically very good. Which you'd expect from, you know, sisters (or as-good-as, in Charlotte's case).
- Mary's attempt at costume theatre is melodramatic, and she breaks character twice.
- Darcy finds it too hard to imitate his sister, but is excellent as his best friend Fitz.
- Big Damn Kiss:
- Between Lydia and Wickham in episode 24 of Lydia's spin-off.
- Aaand, much more awaited, Jane and Bing in episode 92.
- And the Foregone Conclusion that we've been waiting for, Lizzie and Darcy in episode 98. Thrice.
- Demoted to Extra: Kitty Bennet, who was the fourth Bennet sister, has been adapted into an actual cat named Kitty, while Mary has been turned into a cousin seen mainly in Lydia's spin-off videos (although she has appeared in Lizzie's videos).
- Department of Redundancy Department: Lizzie in episode 33, talking about Darcy: "The only thing he wanted was for me to say that I liked popular music so that he could mock me with his mocking words, and his mocking face and BEADY little mocking eyes."
- Distracted by the Sexy: Lizzie, walking in on Wickham with no shirt on, forgets to castigate Lydia for "accidentally" spilling water on his shirt (hence the no-shirt-on thing) and instead gives a series of disjointed giggles. Well, it's either this or Heroic BSOD at the realization of what she let Lydia do.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lydia says she felt sorry for the youngest boy she babysat. The older boys were so mean to him, and he seemed so lonely.
- Drama Bomb: Episode 41 (Collins' proposal to Charlotte) and 42 (fallout thereof).
- Episode 47 (Bing leaves town) and 48 (Jane breaks down before announcing she too is leaving).
- Episode 60: Darcy first appears on the videos to declare his love for Lizzie. Lizzie shuts him down.
- Episode 73: Lydia has her 21st birthday and Lizzie accidentally reveals her opinion that Lydia could stand to act more grown-up. Regardless of whether she was right or not, Lydia doesn't take it well.
- Episode 84: Darcy asks Lizzie out on a date but before she can answer she finds out that Lydia has been dating George Wickham and he has been advertising a sex tape of the two of them and Lizzie has to return home.
- Drop-In Character: Initially, Jane and Lydia but they got great staples of the show in later episodes. Definitely the case for Mr. Collins, Caroline and Bing. Bing doesn't even know about the vlog he's appearing on until episode 81.
- Early-Bird Cameo: In the Secret Diaries book, Lizzie mentions in her report from Vidcon that she attended a talk on multi-communication platforms from "a designer and app company called Pemberly Digital."
- Early Installment Weirdness: The makeup is much more conspicuous in the first eight or so episodes, particularly the absolute first. It can be jarring to go back to them.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Both Lizzie and Lydia thoroughly enjoyed shirtless Wickham.
- Fatal Flaw: Lizzie's pride and inability to change her mind once it's made up, especially against Darcy and Lydia, has caused misunderstandings and problems for many of the involved. Fortunately Character Development helps her to learn from those flaws.
- Fist Pump: According to Lizzie, Mrs Bennet kept pumping her fist at Ellen Gibson's wedding when she was enjoying her success as a matchmaker when her daughter Jane and Bing danced together song after song. Let's hope Lizzie meant it metaphorically.
- Flower in Her Hair: Jane and Gigi get a pink flower for their costume theatre and it accurately captures their femininity. However, they don't seem to be wearing flowers in hair in real life.
- Foreshadowing: "Keeping someone ignorant isn't protecting them. It can actually endanger them, you know?"
- Four Girl Ensemble: Jane is definite the "sweet, naive" one, and Lydia is definitely the "sexy" one (of the Really Gets Around type). Charlotte's mostly the Deadpan Snarker, which leaves Lizzie as the Wild Card, which fits her accurately, to a point.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Lizzie would sometimes answer comments at the video, and she would ask her viewers to send her questions through Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, and those that were interesting for the story or characters got answered in-universe. In addition, the creative team was always eager to communicate with fans at the official page or various social networks.
- Freudian Excuse: The Lydia vlogs heavily imply that Lydia acts out and is obnoxious at least in part because she feels jealous of Jane and Lizzie's bond and ignored by her parents. Interestingly, the writers seem to take this less seriously than the vast majority of the Lydia fanbase.
- Freudian Slip:
- Genre Savvy: Darcy. When Gigi calls him on Domino (a device that can record calls and post them online) he immediately asks if she's calling him on the demo, and hangs up promptly.
- Gilligan Cut: Becomes somewhat of a Running Gag in The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. quite often, Lizzie will end her diary entries with some statement about how [X] will never happen or [Y] should go off without a hitch — only for her to open the next diary entry describing how [X] did indeed happen or [Y] ran into unforeseen problems. She catches onto it after a while, at one point telling herself that she has to stop making such predictions in her diary when the universe is so determined to prove her wrong... but then she goes right back to doing it.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A tame version exists between Lizzie and Lydia. For the most part, the get along and they are kept in check by Jane. Plus, it's obvious that they really care about each other. The Lizzie-Lydia feud finally erupted in episodes 73 and 74.
- Goth: Mary is a downplayed example of the "Gloomy Goth" variety, mixed with Emo Teen.
- "Good Luck" Gesture: Lizzie crosses fingers on both hands rather intensely in "Q&A 1" when she says she hopes her younger sister Lydia will soon become a responsible woman.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Lydia. Lizzie sometimes, usually when it relates to Collins and Darcy.
- Heartbreak And Icecream: Charlotte brings cheesy movies and ice-cream to Lizzie who is a bit depressed over a guy. They weren't dating, but there are other love problems than a break-up.
- Heroes Want Redheads: It is certain this is where the story is going to end up, as all three sisters have varying shades of red hair.
- Heroic BSOD: Lizzie has one in the 8th episode, complete with an editorial aside by Charlotte lampshading and/or foreshadowing Lizzie's Fatal Flaw and the entire plot that results from it:
Charlotte: "Hey, everyone. Lizzie is having a bit of a crisis because her sister Jane actually likes the guy her mother wants her to marry. A guy who, it turns out, is actually pleasant, and nice, and funny, but that Lizzie had already made up her mind to hate. And Lizzie hates changing her mind."
- Ship Tease: Quite possibly the 2nd video of Maria's spinoff, for Mr Collins and Charlotte.
- Shipper on Deck: Naturally, Gigi and Fitz for Lizzie and Darcy, judging by their tweets and Gigi's conversations with Lizzie. In episode 78, Gigi orchestrates the infamous awkward Pemberley scene by unceremoniously shoving Darcy into the room and sitting Lizzie and Darcy in front of the camera. Her tweets with Fitz show that they were both in on it. They were using Spy Speak.
- Shirtless Scene: Episode 45 courtesy of George Wickham. Invoked by Lydia. She spilled water on his shirt and persuaded him to take it off. He gladly obliged.
- Lizzie describes Jane as Practically Perfect in every way!
- In episode 10, Lizzie has to scrutinize Jane's face for more information. When this proves insufficient, she uses a Vulcan mind-meld.
- In episode 11, Lizzie compares Darcy and Caroline Lee to Statler & Waldorf.
- In the Q&A, one of the names Lizzie suggested for the session was "Lizzie explains it all". This is perhaps inadvertently a shoutout to a website called Lissa Explains it All, which teaches children about HTML and which has been around for over 10 years. (The website may have originally been called "Lizzy Explains it All"), or the tv show Clarissa Explains It All.
- In Episode 29, Lizzie bemoans her fate of living in a van down by the river.
- Additionally in Episode 29, Lizzie advises Bing on movies. She declares the period drama a good call, but warns against the one with zombies.
- In Episode 5 of Lydia Bennet's vlog, she tells about babysitting for the Jacksons, who have three sons named Elijah, Dom and Billy. Elijah likes playing "orcs and little people".
- Silent Credits: Used in Episode 87, when the usual upbeat theme music would have seemed utterly inappropriate after watching Lydia break down sobbing in Lizzie's arms.
- Viewers Are Morons: Or more like customers are morons. How else do you explain Collins & Collins's minute-long tutorial video on light switches?
- WHAM Episode:
- Episode 42. Charlotte accepts a job from Mr Collins and she and Lizzie get into a rather heated argument over it.
- Episode 58 through 64 are the real Drama Bomb, coinciding with the apex of the story. First we learn from Fitz that Darcy orchestrated Bing's breakup with Jane. In the next, Darcy himself breaks into the series. In 60, he sits down with Lizzie and delivers his Anguished Declaration of Love. In 61, having watched her video diaries, he apologizes for his actions and gives her a letter. As she relates in 62, this letter contains his motivation for breaking up Jane and Bing, and—because his actions actually make sense given the information he had available—Lizzie's opinion of him begins to change. Finally, 63 and 64 have Caroline return, get called out on lying, and be firmly planted as an antagonist in Charlotte and Lizzie's mind. No more false friends here.
- Episode 82. Gigi reveals the truth about what went down between Wickham and herself. Wickham was using Gigi for Darcy's money.
- Followed almost immediately by the revelation that Wickham is publishing a sex tape of himself and Lydia.
- Episode 97: Darcy shows up at Lizzie's house.
Darcy: Excuse me, Lizzie.
- Wham Line: Two almost right after each other: "I'm in love with you" is followed very closely by "...what videos?".
- What Happened to the Mouse??: After Gigi tricks George into revealing his details we eventually learn that Darcy managed to buy the website and prevent the sex tape from being realeased - but it's never revealed what happens to George, or whether he was charged with anything.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Charlotte to Lizzie in Episode 42, according to some viewers. Though others would place Lizzie as the one chastizing the other one.
- When Lizzie finds out about Lydia's sex tape she leaves her job shadowing gig to come home to ask Lydia why she did it (but then she finds out that Lydia didn't know about it).
- Episode 2 on the Pemberley Digital channel has Gigi call out Darcy when it seems like he either won't be helping the Bennet family in their crisis, or will leave her out of the loop when he does.
- Lizzie confronts Bing about his leaving Jane in episode 90.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Somewhere in California, evidently:
- Bing and Co exit to Los Angeles, pursued by a bear. Err, Jane.
- Pemberley Digital is in San Francisco. Fitz claims to have "a corner office in the city, overlooking the bay," and can see "two bridges" from his office, suggesting he works in the same city.
- The Collins & Collins website claims it's based in Hunsford, California.
- Mr. and Mrs. Bennet go off to a Chanukah party in Sacramento.