Today, I’d like to welcome Tiffanie from Mostly YA Lit for a guest post edition of Swoon-Worthy Sundays! I’m very excited for this week’s feature since I don’t know much about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and yet I’ve been hearing everyone talk about it over the last little while!
I’m so excited to be sharing my latest swoonworthy obsession: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!
If you haven’t seen or heard of this web series, you guys are in for a treat. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a fast-paced video blog retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Now, if you haven’t read P&P, it’s basically the most classic story ever of misunderstanding getting in the way of true love. I’m not going to try to give you a synopsis – too difficult, but suffice to say, if you haven’t read it, watched the many adaptations, or know the basic story, the LBD might be a great way of getting into it.
In this version, Lizzie is a grad student studying mass communications, and she’s started a video blog detailing her family and her life, including “practically perfect” older sister Jane, her very enthusiastic younger sister Lydia. Best friend Charlotte Lu is the one behind the camera, but she also makes appearances along with the sisters.
Each video is around five minutes long, and new videos get posted on Mondays and Thursday at 12pm EST. They’re full of funny recaps, wild gesticulations, and “Costume Theatre”, where Lizzie reenacts scenes from her life, sometimes having Charlotte, Jane, Lydia and others role-play with her with hilarious results.
Why am I swooning? Because co-creators Hank Green (yes, one of the two Vlogbrothers along with John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars) and Bernie Su have done an amazing job translating one of the best-loved (and one of my personal favourite) romances of all time to a very modern, digital native audience. In the original, Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s mother, is obsessed with marrying off her daughters to preserve and secure the family’s future comfort. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is convinced that she could never marry for anything other than love. In this version, Lizzie’s mom just wants to see her kids happily married. Lizzie fights this because she believes that her education is more important than love at the moment.
One of the most interesting and fun parts of the story are the “transmedia” elements. This is not just a show that you watch, absorb, and go back to your life. Instead, the creators encourage interactivity with the characters. Lizzie “reads” her YouTube comments and does Qs and As based on some of those questions. All of the characters have Twitter accounts that are “in-world” and several of them have Tumblrs, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. You can follow additional parts of the story through these pieces. For instance, even before they appear on screen, Jane’s love interest, Bing Lee, his sister Caroline, and his best friend William Darcy have twitter discussions over the fact that Bing has bought a house in the country.
The best part about the transmedia storytelling is that it only goes as far as you want it to go. If you’re only interested in watching Lizzie’s videos, you’ll still get the whole story. But if you’re like me, and you desperately soak up every single detail possible, you’ll want to take a look at those twitter accounts and check out the video blogs that some of the other characters have set up.
Even if you’re not into social storytelling, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries delivers amazing, fully characters. Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, and Charlotte are so perfectly flawed that you can’t help but be interested in their lives, whether it’s Jane’s romantic entanglements, or Lydia’s partying lifestyle, or Charlotte’s job hunt. The other characters play smaller roles, but their motivations and actions feel so authentic that the story just comes alive. To me, this show is so compelling because it’s not just about the romantic journey that Lizzie’s on. Things do get a bit darker and more contemplative. The characters change. Like most of us, Lizzie makes mistakes and errors in judgement, sometimes about the people closest to her. She’s not perfect, but ultimately, Lizzie is just like us: she’s a girl who wants to know where she belongs and how to be a better person.
Have you guys watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Are you as obsessed as I am?