That’s the boring description. The better description is it’s AWESOME and AMAZING and WOW.
The Plot: Lizzie Bennet, grad student, is creating and posting her online diaries (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) as part of her grad student thesis. Her best friend, Charlotte Lu, helps with the creation and editing; her sisters Jane and Lydia make appearances; and as time passes, the story is continued in not only more of Lizzie’s own videos but also in the video diary of her sister Lydia and the social media postings of friends and family.
The Good: AWESOME and AMAZING and WOW. Wait, did I say that already?
I can only watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as someone who loves the source material; so I’m not even going to pretend how this would work for non-Austen fans.
I loved, loved, loved this update: Lizzie is a grad student and her family is having financial difficulties, and that illustrates the socioeconomic divide between the Bennets and the Lees and the Darcys. The updates include tweaking names and using a diverse cast: George Wickham remains George Wickham, but Darcy is now William Darcy, Charles Bingley is Bing Lee, and Charlotte Lucas is Charlotte Lu.
Part of the fun, at least to me, is discovering those updates on my own,so I don’t want to give them all away. In this update, there are only three sisters. There is, however, a cousin Mary! So Mary does come into play, except the modern version of Mary is someone wh is both a bit emo and who feels like an outsider as a cousin, not a sister. Some things remain unchanged, such as Lizzie’s mother who is still marriage-obsessed for her daughters.
I also really enjoyed how The Lizzie Bennet Diaries made me re-think certain things about the series, such as how Lizzie’s own perspective impacts things. And Lydia. To avoid spoilers, all I’ll say is Lydia may be my favorite character.
The story has unfolded in “real time,” starting last April. What this means is that as of the time I’m writing this, the story is still going on! For those who followed from the beginning, it means going to the website a few times a week to get updates on the story. Those updates are primarily video, but are also tweets or posts. For those who want to follow along in full-real time, you can follow the characters’ Twitter accounts. For those like me who only recently started watching, links to the full story (in proper, linear order) is at The Story.
I watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in the order at the website. (Hint to new watchers: I kept backspacing to the main page, not realizing each entry had it’s own next/previously link at the bottom). (Second hint: a couple of times, the wrong video played, so be careful that the number on the video is the right number you want to watch.) Theoretically, though, you could watch in any order you want: just interested in Lydia? Watch her own videos; don’t care for the tweets between characters? so don’t read them; etc.
Aside from just being a great series, and aside from showing how a retelling can be original, and aside from illustrating how an update can be faithful, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is also an example of how story-telling evolves and how that evolution does not mean that existing methods of story-telling disappear. We live in a world where Pride and Prejudice can be a book, can be movies and musicals and TV shows, and can also be a “video/social media” series. This retelling no more erases the Jane Austen book than an e-book means that linear storytelling and “books” disappear and become choose-your-own-adventure/game apps.