Rowan watches: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

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It’s been 200 years since Pride and Prejudice was first published. 200 years of ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’, of Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, of zombie fighting Bennet’s, of Colin Firth emerging dripping from that lake and that fountain and ‘you must allow me to tell you how much I ardently admire and love you.’ SQUEE.

My name’s Rowan and I’m a Jane Austen addict. I’ve read all her books even Northanger Abbey ugh. And although my personal favourite remains Persuasion for it’s lost lovers reunited and proto feminist message (‘Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. . . the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.’ You go Anne!) I will always adore Pride and Prejudice.

I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager and wanted to be Lizzy Bennet with her fine eyes and muddy petticoat. I watched the BBC adaption every Sunday with my family, never missing an episode. Girls nights would be characterised with repeated watchings of Pride and Prejudice. Ros and I have watched it so often I know every word. I even watched it on the morning of my wedding.

And now I’m addicted to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and you should be too.

The best adaptations are the ones that allow you to reexamine the original with fresh eyes. Like Clueless with Jane Austen’s Emma on the perils of matchmaking or Ten things I Hate about You feminist reworking of the Taming of the Shrew. In this modern day vlog series Lizzie Bennet is an American (fetch the smelling salts!) graduate student fending off her marriage obsessed mother. Enter stage left William Darcy: socially awkward, stick in the mud, hipster? Pemberley is no longer a stately home but a digital media company. Charlotte doesn’t acccept a marriage proposal but a job offer from Mr Collins. And Lydia’s downfall is less about eloping and more about a sex tape.

As Lizzie’s biweekly video diaries develop you see the different characters and become aware through the acting out of scenes of how unreliable her narrative might be. Part of the pleasure is the anticipation of knowing the twists but not how they play out. The world is fully realised with tweets, tumblr messages and alternative vloggers such as Lydia giving a pathos filled look into her downfall.

Watch it. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

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