Bookish Adaptations {2}: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Posted October 4, 2014 by BumblingBookworm in Memes / 11 Comments

Bookish Adaptations is a sporadic feature here on The Bumbling Bookworm where I look at a book’s adaptation into a visual medium.  This includes movies, miniseries, TV series and the like. Today I’m spotlighting The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

For those of you living under a rock {like me until recently!}, The LBD is a contemporary adaptation of one of my favourite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice.  {If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you may want to turn away now because this is spoilery for the book.}  This adaptation is contemporary in more ways than one, the first by taking place as a vlog series on YouTube.

Let me tell you this, the innovation behind the vlog series is AH-MAZING.  The wheel hasn’t simply been reinvented, it’s been reimagined and invigorated in a manner that remains respectful of and true to the original.  For starters, the vlog format could’ve constrained the producers – with many of the major events happening off-screen, how on earth could they appear in a way that makes sense?  The LBD gets around this by using costume theatre and performing re-enactments where appropriate, and it just WORKS.  It’s funny and charming, and it brings variety to a series where the set rarely changes.

Another contemporary feature of the adaptation is the setting in the current time.  The series takes place in modern-day California, which is a big change from Regency England!  In the context of this series where mass media, the internet and vlogging forms a huge role in the storyline, this was an appropriate change given California’s reputation as a “hub for high-tech innovation and development” {see Silicon Valley}.  Ordinarily a change like this would bug me, especially given my love for the original, but it wasn’t gratuitous – it was well thought out and it assisted the storyline.

And what a storyline it was!  I watched all 102 episodes in ONE sitting – I started at 4:30pm one day and it was after midnight by the time I was done…  What can I say, I was hooked!  Once it got to about 10pm, every episode I watched was going to be the last one, and then I just HAD to keep watching the next one until there were no more.  I knew the bones of the storyline by heart, but it was wonderful to watch it all play out over the course of the vlogs.  I think that says a lot about the quality of the adaptation; it wasn’t just a rehash of Pride and Prejudice, it had it’s own original spin on it which kept me coming back for more.

Speaking of originality, there were some pretty major changes in The LBD which distinguished it from Pride and Prejudice.  Some of these were necessitated by modern circumstances, for example the Bennet sisters were studying or had studied at university.  Bringing diversity to the cast, Caroline and Charles Bingley became Caroline and Bing Lee, and Charlotte Lucas became Charlotte Lu, all Asian-Americans.  Colonel Fitzwilliams became Darcy’s friend and colleague Fitz Williams, an African-American.

Perhaps the biggest change was the removal of two of the Bennet sisters, Mary and Kitty.  Both were still present in the vlog in their own way, Mary as a cousin and Kitty as Lydia’s cat, but it was a bit odd.  On the one hand, I can totally see how it worked.  Mary was kinda invisible in the book, and that could hardly be explained in the vlog context if she was a sister.  As a cousin, she was invisible for a lot of the story, and came and went as she pleased.  As for Kitty, I can see how her character was a bit superfluous – the storyline could and did happen without her.  On the other hand, as a Pride and Prejudice purist, this change did rankle with me a bit.  I could handle all the other changes above to modernise it, but this maybe took it too far for me.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Some things, though, they just never change.  Wickham is still a cad, Lydia is still a flighty ditz, Jane is still a sweetie, Mrs Bennet is still searching for rich husbands for her daughters, Bing Lee is still gullible and Caroline is still a bitch.  Most importantly, Darcy is still proud and Lizzie is still prejudiced.  Whilst changes were made in adapting Pride and Prejudice to this format, it is these core tenets that remain unchanging, tying the two together.  After all, it’s these things we love about the book, and to change any of that would’ve made the vlog something completely unrecognisable and not an adapation at all!

I absolutely adore this adaptation, and it’s one I could rewatch over and over again.  It takes all of the best parts from Pride and Prejudice, bringing them into the 21st Century to create something amazing and definitely worth watching.  So if you haven’t checked it out yet, get on it!  Also, I highly encourage reading the book based on the vlog (The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet) once you’ve finihsed watching the vlog, it’s fantastic!  {That’s right, there’s a book based on the vlog which was originally based on another book!}

What about you, have you seen this?  Did you enjoy it as much as I did?  I hope so!

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11 responses to “Bookish Adaptations {2}: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

  1. Oooh I’m so glad you’ve discovered the LBD, I found out about it last year and was totally addicted as well! The characters were all really reminiscent of the original ones and I just loved how it was updated with a modern feel. It was so addictive, I recommend the book too: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet.

  2. Oh Lizzie Bennet Diaries! <3 I love that series so so much. Rewatched it all as 'study' when we were doing Pride and Prejudice in a college course this year! One thing I really enjoyed about this series is that we got a more balanced view of Lydia's character (I don't know if you watched her videos? Some were really difficult to watch, seeing how manipulative Wickham was). It's a really interesting adaptation and I think it works really well 🙂 Also I am majorly impressed that you watched it in one sitting!

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