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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (aka AAAH I LOVE IT)

I am a crazed and rabid fan of Pride and Prejudice and though I did read P&P in school, it was really the TV mini series by A&E, starring the stunning Jennifer Ehle and the ravishing Colin Firth that got me hook, line and sinker. Yes, I had understood it in high school, and could even appreciate the witty dialogue and the parallels between Elizabeth's own pride and the pride of Darcy. But the magic, I will admit, was lost on me until watching the series. It helped me appreciate the story that much more, and prompted me to re-read Austen's book with far more affection and attention than I had done so when I was 15.

Another contemporary version, a movie starring Keira Knightley as Lizzie and Matthew Macfayden, was okay for me, although it does reign supreme for my bestie Kendra. I was too hooked on the loveliness of the A&E version to get really engrossed in the movie, although the scene where Darcy is walking purposely towards Elizabeth though the misty, dewy fields that separate them, all the while bathed in a misty, dewy English sunrise, absolutely swept me away. But on the whole, it didn't captivate, not in the way that Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle had done so all those years before.

Now, though, and in a completely different way, I've found something that is so entertaining, so charming and hilarious and witty and FUN: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It's a web video series that retells Pride and Prejudice in an very modern way. Lizzie Bennet is a grad student studying mass communications, her sweet sister Jane is an underpaid minion in the fashion world, and the only other sister is the irreplacable Lydia, an oversexed community college student who wears a lot of Victoria's Secret Pink! casual wear (she once tried to give Lizzie a kiss on the mouth, and when stopped promptly by Lizzie, says "What, don't you want more viewers?"). There is no Kitty or Mary in the immediate family, though they do have a cousin Mary who, if memory serves me, has a cat named Kitty. At least someone has a cat named Kitty, who follows Lydia around wherever she goes. Clever!

Lizzie's best friend is no longer Charlotte Lucas but Charlotte Lu, the director and editor of Lizzie's vlog and an aspiring director. She's cool and collected, much like Charlotte Lucas, with a very logical mind and outlook on life. She's also hilarious and cool in a nerdy but not quite hipsterish way (thank God), and reels Lizzie in during her frequent rants and ravings over people like Darcy and Caroline.

Mr. Bingley is actually a med student named Bing Lee, a very handsome young man who is as sweet as the original Bingley, but with an extra dose of comic value that is a delight. His sister Caroline is a surprise; so far into the series (we're on episode 35 of 60) she hasn't shown the original Caroline's bitchiness and oozing approval for Darcy, though we can tell she's a snob. And we know she's a snake in the grass. She has to be! There's also Mr. Collins, an annoying old schoolmate of Lizzie and Charlotte's who, thanks to the financial backing of Catherine de Bourgh, has started his own web video business.

That brings me to Darcy. We've yet to see him but as of now we are in the midst of Lizzie's utter dislking of him, which is hilarious in its own way as she groans and pulls faces for her video diary, despite Jane's insistence that it isn't criticism Darcy is displaying, it's affection. But when we do see him, and I know for a fact we will, it's going to be so exciting. Especially considering how freaking hot Bing is. Darcy has to be comparable. RIGHT?

What I really appreciate about this web series is how well they mirror the troubles that plagued Austen's Bennet family, but in more modern times. All three Bennet sisters still live at home due to crippling student loans and, in Jane's case, a sadly underpaid but much adored job. The Bennets are facing the reality of losing their home in the bad economy, which somewhat explains Mrs. Bennet's mad dash to get her daughters married both quickly and richly. It all makes sense. And when she decides to remodel the house, in order to get her daughters invited to Bing Lee's house (Netherfield, natch), it is done under the guise of improving the value of the home in order to sell it and make more money to help the family stay afloat.

Look, I am basically retelling the whole damn web series up to episode 35, because that's how into it I am. The videos are 6 minutes or less, most of them hovering around 3:35 minutes long, so before you know it you've ripped through 20 of them and are out of wine. There's a tumblr, a twitter and a you tube channel all dedicated to the series, but the link I gave you up above will take you to the offical site, and you can get all the nitty gritty on that page.

"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love" this series.

Grade: A+++++

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