A Review of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I may be quiet about it, but I am such a nerdfighter (a nerdfighter, if you didn’t know, doesn’t fight nerds. She fights world-suck). DFTBA.

Anyways, the Vlogbrothers, figureheads of nerdfighteria, are very interested in new media and, in particular, new ways to use web video. Enter The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the brain-child of Hank Green.

Here’s the basic idea: a retelling of Pride and Prejudice through a series of Lizzie Bennet’s personal vlogs. Basically, a you-tubed, modern-day retelling of P&P.

A warning, if rabid fans chance upon this review: I will be candid and honest but ultimately positive.

(Down, potential trolls.)

Here’s a taste:

I give the overall series an A-. I give the romance subplot a C.

The story isn’t over. As of today, I think we’re about halfway through the story. I love it so far, but it has made me think of the limitations of vlogs in telling a narrative.

For instance, writers always hear “show, don’t tell.” But vlogs, in essence, are all about telling. I love blogs/vlogs/tweets/etc. because they get me inside someone’s head, and they’re great for telling anecdotes. But they aren’t always the best for telling a long story.

I’m sure the writers of this web series are more than conscientious about this particular limitation of the form. Though Lizzie tells much of the story, it has a confessional feel. To me it seems like a very juicy first-person narrative where you want the character to tell you exactly what they think, because what they think is usually entertaining. And beyond that, Lizzie and whoever she ropes into it—Charlotte Lu, her bestie, or one of her sisters, who have been restricted to Jane and Lydia (don’t worry about the other sisters. There’s a cat named Kitty and an emo cousin named Mary. Brilliant)—put on silly costumes and entertain us with Lizzie’s version of events.

I think it’s an effective way to tell the story while using only vlogs (as opposed to having the camera follow Lizzie and film her every day life). It does mean, however, that several characters are talked about but not introduced on camera. Her mother, for one. Her father, for another.

And Darcy.

This is where the C for romance comes in. I will say that not seeing Darcy, for one who’s entirely familiar with the original story, builds tension. Lots of tension. So that’s good. But if you take away any previous exposure to the story and make the web-series stand on its own, the romance falls flat. How am I supposed to root for an unlikable guy I’ve never met before? How can chemistry exist between two characters if the viewer never sees them interact?

For me, the chemistry doesn’t exist, but I’m willing to entertain opposing views. I think that the writers, again, are aware of this. They’ve done a good job having Lizzie’s friends who do feature on the blog paint an informative picture of Darcy. His snobbishness has hints of shyness. His honorable character is shown through the awesomeness of the people who love him (Bing and Fitz, mainly).

The fact remains that for me, the romance isn’t sizzling. But I’m okay with that. I think, and have always thought, that P&P is about so much more than the romance. And I think the web series gets that. It’s about Lizzie’s mom worrying about the future of her daughters in the middle of an economic crisis. It’s about Lizzie worrying about Charlotte going into business with a reality-challenged Mr. Collins. It’s about Lydia not connecting with anything other than partying (Lydia’s representation could be a post by itself. Short version: I’m impressed). It’s about Lizzie finding out how to be strong and independent  while also accepting other people’s decisions, even when she doesn’t agree/understand.

Etc.

There’s lots to love about this series. Give it a shot, if you haven’t already, and let me know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/user/LizzieBennet?feature=watch

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2 thoughts on “A Review of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

  1. sarahtalley says:

    You once again astound me with your awesome post. I had never realized that not seeing Darcy at this point in the narrative (which is practically KILLING me with suspense, btw. I was convinced he was going to show up in the Robot Darcy episode) detracts from the romance of the story. If you’re watching the A&E version with Colin Firth, you’ve got him to stare at for hours with the promise that Lizzie will eventually see how darn attractive he is. It helps carry you through their endless discussions of how infatuated–I mean infuriated they are with each other. But while all the P&P fans are squirming and dying to see Darcy, everyone else probably isn’t caught into the romance the same way.

    In other news, can I just say how BRILLIANT is was to mention that Darcy’s sister Georgiana used to be on the swim team??? And Wickham is a swim coach??? It blew my mind a little. That is all.

  2. gaddmegan says:

    I KNOW BRILLIANT! I have to admit that when they dropped that tidbit of info I was distracted thinking about Darcy’s absence (I WANT TO SEE HIMMMMMM), so I didn’t put it together until I was reading some of the comments. Such a great web series.

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