WHAT IS IT: An online, modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Set in 21st century America, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a vlog-style webseries narrated by Lizzie Bennet herself.
WHERE YOU CAN WATCH IT: On YouTube. The first episode is embed above. Fifty-eight episodes have aired so far. Two new episodes are posted per week.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Many mini-series (most notably the 1995 BBC series staring Colin Firth) and feature films (I’m particularly fond of the 2005 Keira Knightley adaptation) have revisited Jane Austen’s most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice. Others offered modern adaptations of the classic (Bridget Jones will forever remain a perfect film, Lost in Austen offered an interesting take on the tale but ultimately failed at establishing an emotional connection with the audience). So it’s fair to say that the Lizzie Bennet Diaries had quite the legacy to live up to. And boy, did it rise to the challenge, and then some more.
In the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Elizabeth Bennet is Lizzie, a 24-year-old communication grad student with an overbearing mother obsessed with marrying off her three daughters — Lizzie, Jane, and Lydia. Lizzie starts a vlog to talk about her life, her family, her struggles, and yes, her strong opinions. Every week, she posts two videos where she tells us about what’s happening in her life. Things often unfold on screen as characters come in and out of Lizzie’s vlog sessions, primarily based in her bedroom at the Bennet household.
The way the Lizzie Bennet Diaries adapts the P&P story and characters to modern times, while still staying true to the novel, is not only consistently realistic, but FUN. Perhaps my favorite LBD character is Kitty Bennet, who is an actual kitten. Reason #5793875 as to why this show brings me so much joy. And while I’m not always 100% sure about some choices the show makes, I always find myself enjoying the story as it’s told.
The other reason why I love LBD is the way it tells stories. The vlog webseries format alone is an unconventional storytelling tool, but the team behind the webseries clearly knows how to use the format to their advantage. For example, there are some characters we’ve never actually met in person (and I suspect we never will), yet we know them intimately. Why? Lizzie Bennet likes to use roleplay to mimic people in her life. She puts on hats and glasses and other amazing props and re-enact conversations. Not only is it funny, but it works. For example, I can’t imagine Lizzie’s mom as anything other than, well, Lizzie dressed up as her mom in that ridiculous floppy hat.
But the show doesn’t stop at uploading two videos a week on YouTube. Secondary characters also have their own vlogs, which allows us to follow them when they’re not present in Lizzie’s life. My personal favorite part of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries‘s storytelling platform is that the story continues beyond the screen. All the characters have Twitter accounts where they posts updates, interact with each other and help us fill in the blanks on what happens when the camera’s off (or when Lizzie’s not looking, I guess.) They have tumblr blogs. Jane Bennet, who, in the webseries, works in fashion, even has a Pinterest account I’m particularly fond of.
I could honestly go on and on as to why I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. But I think what it bows down to is this: the webseries makes me care about its characters. It pulls me into their lives in a way that I thought only possible with an actual show on a real network. How wrong I was. The cast is fantastic, from the charismatic and irreplaceable Ashley Clements who plays Lizzie, to the mesmerizing Mary Kate Wiles aka Lydia Bennet, to my new favorite, the charming Fitz Williams played by Craig Frank. The writing is sharp and funny. The emotions are real (if you think a five-minute long webseries can’t wreck you, you’re wrong.) And just like with a traditional TV show, LBD makes me want more. I refresh YouTube obsessively waiting for a new video. I tweet about it. I reblog gifs on Tumblr. I think about it in the middle of my day. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is good storytelling.
So what are you waiting for? GO WATCH IT NOW.