I finally got around to watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It is a really cute take on the Pride and Prejudice story with a modern twist. There are 100 episodes, all around the 3 to 4 minute mark and 10 Q&A episodes, which are interspersed with vlogs from other characters such as Lydia Bennet, Maria Lu, and Gigi Darcy.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is the first vlog series of the Pride and Prejudice adaptation. It follows the original story pretty well while updating it for a modern world. The characterizations are a little in your face, but more realistic for modern women. We meet Lizzie Bennet who, along with her best friend Charlotte Lu, starts a vlog about her life and of course, spends most of it talking about her sister’s love life and her crazy mother. In this version, Lizzie only has two sisters, Jane and Lydia, while Lydia’s cat is named Kitty and they have a cousin named Mary. Jane is working in the fashion industry and not making enough money to even make payments on her student loans. Lizzie is a grad student, entering into her final year of grad school for communications. Lydia is 20 and not yet legal drinking age as per her need for a fake ID. Speaking of which, the ID is a nod to Mansfield Park as the name is Mary Crawford, aged 26. It’s not ever really stated what it is that Lydia does with her time besides flirting and drinking and having fun. Charlotte Lu is also a grad student, taking communications as well, hoping to work in the film industry.
We learn about a rich, pre-med guy who buys a nearby mansion named Bing Lee. He has a sister, Caroline Lee, and his friend is William Darcy. Lizzie’s mother immediately tries to set her daughters up with Bing Lee. Jane and Bing meet at a wedding and totally hit it off. Things are going really well with them for a while. Lizzie meets George Wickham at a local bar during Swim Week when a whole bunch of swim teams descend upon their town. He is one of the coaches. They begin texting each other. Mrs. Bennet decides to have the house “remodeled”, making the Bennet family homeless for a while. Bing offers to let Jane and Lizzie stay with him in his guest wing. Caroline and Lizzie seem to get along really well but Lizzie hates Darcy. While Jane and Lizzie are staying with Bing, Lydia and the rest of the family are staying with their cousin, Mary, which is documented in Lydia’s vlog (see below). Eventually, they end up back home and things sort of go back to normal until Ricky Collins comes for a visit. Ricky Collins is a boy that Lizzie went to school with when they were younger and were “engaged” as much as two 8 year olds could be, which had something to do with Lizzie’s relationship with her mother. Anyway, he has some venture capitalist, Catherine De Bourgh, investing in his company and is looking for a business partner. Lizzie turns him down and he asks Charlotte Lu, who agrees, wanting to start her career. Charlotte moves in order to start working with Collins and Collins. Lizzie misses her, but is at least slightly distracted by the fact that George Wickham is back in town.
Lizzie discovers some drama between Darcy and Wickham and is determined to find out what it is. She eventually gets the story out of Wickham and learns that they grew up together, and according to Wickham, Darcy wouldn’t give him the money Darcy’s father had promised him to be able to go to a prestigious school. After a disastrous birthday party at Bing’s, Bing moves back to LA. Jane decides to take a work transfer to LA to follow him and see if there was still something between them and why he took off. After making up with Charlotte, Lizzie heads out to visit her friend. She mentions that she hasn’t heard from Caroline since they moved away. They head back home for the holidays and Lizzie gets into a fight with Lydia. She then heads out to do her last independent study project with Pemberley Digital, William Darcy’s company. There, she meets Gigi, Darcy’s sister. She also runs into Darcy and Bing Lee. After finding out that Wickham has set up a website to release a sex video of him and Lydia for money, Lizzie returns home. Lizzie finds out that Lydia had no idea about the video. Lydia takes the whole thing very hard, understandably. Through this, we get to see a much better relationship between Lizzie and Lydia than we got in the source material. With the original story, we did see Elizabeth worried about her sister and her dealings with Wickham, but because of how that all turned out, we didn’t get to see any sort of revelation of the type of character Wickham was in Lydia. As far as she was concerned, she was happy and had her husband. With the updated version, we see a heartbroken Lydia and a true sisterly affection from Lizzie towards her.
Darcy manages to track down the company that owned the video and website and buys them out in order to prevent the distribution of the video. Lydia does some research into how the website just disappeared and finds out what Darcy did and tells her sister. After all that is settled, Jane gets a job in New York. On the day before she is set to leave, Bing comes for a visit and asks her if he can go with her to New York. Turns out he didn’t really want to be a doctor and quit medical school. With Bing finally listening to himself instead of everyone else, he and Jane go off for their happy ending. Eventually, Lizzie decides to call Darcy and three days later, he shows up at her door to talk to her. They also get their happy ending and Lizzie decides to end her video diary series. There are a couple of follow up videos in a Q&A format, just updating everyone on how things are going since the end of the vlog.
Following the end of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a companion book was published which is essentially a novelized version of the vlog. It gives a behind the scenes look at what happened before and after the camera was turned off. We learn about Lizzie’s decision to make the vlog and why. We also get more hints into the Bennet money troubles that weren’t as obvious in the vlog. Mr. Bennet talks about cancelling their club membership because the girls no longer need tennis lessons. Admittedly, that makes sense but once you know the money problems, it’s hard not to see that as a sign. As you get further into the book, you get more and more behind the scenes type information that the character didn’t discuss on her vlog (e.g. a fight between her parents about the money Mrs. Bennet had spent on the dinner for Bing and Caroline). It also gives enough information that if you haven’t watched the series, you could still follow along with what’s going on, though they are definitely better when enjoyed together. The book just adds so much more to the video series, fleshing out the characters a little more, as well as the plot. If you’re going to watch the series, I definitely recommend picking up this book as well.
The Lydia Bennet is a vlog series that takes place during the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. There are 29 episodes that show Lydia’s side of things during the events of the series. Lydia, enjoying being on Lizzie’s vlog, decides to start her own, but really only uses it when she can’t appear in Lizzie’s vlog. Her blog starts when she goes to live with their cousin Mary while the Bennet house is being “remodelled’. We meet Mary, who has a kind of emo-esque vibe to her and loves to read. It continues for 7 episodes until Lydia returns home and starts popping up in Lizzie’s vlog again. It restarts when Lizzie goes to visit Charlotte. Lydia also goes to visit Jane in LA. After a fight with Lizzie on her birthday, Lydia takes off to spend New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas where she runs into “an old friend”. Seeing as how this is Pride and Prejudice, it’s obvious that is George Wickham. Towards the end of her vlog series, they really started to feel like they dragged on a bit. I think it was the whole addition of Wickham and it seemed to change her personality. Mind you, that might have been the point.
Following the web series, a book called The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet was published. Admittedly, I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, but from my understanding, it is a bit of a sequel about what happens to Lydia after the Lizzie Bennet Diaries series. This is one I will definitely pick up in the future if I find a copy to borrow. I may need to visit my local library to see if they have this one in stock. I think it would be interesting to learn what Lydia is up to after the disaster she managed to avert, and what she learned from her experiences with George Wickham. I think this would definitely be worth a try.
Maria of the Lu is a vlog that follows Maria Lu during her internship at Collins and Collins. It is 7 episodes long. Humourously, Maria seems to continuously vlog about Lizzie Bennet and her videos, and Charlotte continues to interrupt her and tell her not to vlog about Lizzie’s vlog. It gives a nice glimpse as to what is going on with Charlotte while she and Lizzie are away from each other. The final video of this series is Charlotte Lu’s recommendation video, in lieu of a recommendation letter. It was really cute overall and a nice look at what Charlotte was up to and how she was feeling during her separation from Lizzie.
Collins and Collins is a series of instructional videos, very tongue in cheek. The first video is instructions on how to use a light switch. The rest follow this same suit. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the series itself. It’s just a sort of extra and if it’s not something that interests you, you could totally skip it and continue on with the rest of the series.
Pemberley Digital, specifically Domino, is a vlog series about their new application that helps edit and post online video. While demonstrating what the application can do, we also follow Gigi and Darcy as they deal with the George Wickham issue. It focuses on Gigi’s view of the search. The Domino demo is 6 episodes long and an interesting way to do a vlog in comparison to the other three companion vlogs in this series.
There are several other projects by the same company that produced the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, some of which are sequels to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and some are unrelated. To check out these other projects, head over to Pemberley Digital, the name of the production company which was inspired by their original production, and check out Welcome to Sanditon, Emma Approved, Frankenstein MD and/or The March Family Letters. Given the quality of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I have no doubt that these other projects will be just as good.