Goodbye Lizzie Bennet

pridenovelGoodbye Lizzie. And Darcy. And Lydia, Jane, Bing, Charlotte, and all the rest. Episode 100: The End of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday. Almost one year after the first episode, it’s over.

I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

ppzI love the fact that there are dozens of adaptations because we can’t let the original go. One of my favorites was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The Bennet girls wielded katanas and lace handkerchiefs – fantastic fun.

But The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, developed by Hank Green and Bernie Su, is the best of all. Why?

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.12.20 PM1. the story took a year to tell. I’m sure you’ve had this experience: You start reading a book and you can’t put it down . You find yourself instantly invested in the characters. You’re living in their world. You have to know what happens. You read the whole thing in one or two sittings, maybe when you’re supposed to be doing something else, maybe secretly, in the bathroom. And then it’s over and you grieve. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries stretched out what might have only lasted a few hours to a whole year. A year of living with the characters, their world, and their story. 

2. We were given brief story instalments. This is the flip side of the story taking a year to tell. If you’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you know what’s going to happen. You’re dying for it to happen. You cannot wait for Lizzie to meet Darcie. Who will they cast? Will he live up to Colin Firth? You cannot wait for the Lydia and Wickham debacle. How will they modernize it? Will I want to slap Lydia? When a five-minute episode ends with a knock at the door, it’s a deliciously excruciating agony to have to wait until the following Monday or Thursday.   

3. The characters are all likeable. Except George Wickham, obviously. We’re never, ever going to like George Wickham. In every adaptation, George Wickham is, and must remain, a pig. He will always be the opposite of William Darcy: a poseur. He’s cuter than usual in the LBD, but we always know it’s going to end badly. On the other hand, I’ve always found Lydia an annoying, extremely stupid character, but in this version, Lydia has a lot of depth, and the viewer can’t help but sympathize to some some degree. Even Caroline is a little more likeable than in the original story.

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.09.06 PM4. You don’t just get your LBD fix on YouTube. You can follow the characters on Twitter, or read their Tumblr posts. You can go to the LBD site. You can find actor/fan/character interaction. Pemberley Digital have their own website.There are even spin-off vlogs: Pemberley Digital’s channel, hosted by Gigi Darcy, and Lydia Bennet’s channel. You can join a discussion community. Now that it’s all over, I’m not only going to miss my YouTube twice weekly fix. Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.23.42 PMI’m really going to miss the Facebook page Socially Awkward Darcy, whose daily fan posts have kept me going between Mondays and Thursdays. Does it have to end? This multi-platform drenching of LBD has made it not only a long-lasting pleasure, but one that can be experienced richly, in many ways. It’s like eating chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate sauce, shaved chocolate, and chocolate truffle ice cream while drinking chocolate milk through a chocolate straw. For a whole year.

5. Even though you know the story, it’s unpredictable. It’s not exactly the same as the original. I don’t want to spoil anything, but some plot points have been modernised to reduce your desire to hit some of the original characters over the head. In addition to changes in the setting so that it’s believably modern, it generally reflects contemporary attitudes to women, marriage, and work. In this context, Mrs Bennet is even funnier than in the original story. Don’t misunderstand: Even though some elements have been changed, the intention of every original plot point is still very visible. 

6.  The vlog creates the illusion that Lizzie Bennet is confiding in you, giving your viewing experience a sense of intimacy. You’re listening to Lizzie talk through her problems, and she often realizes things while she’s talking to you. There’s also an element of secrecy. She worries about certain characters watching the videos. Even though Lizzie talks about her viewers in the plural, it feels as if you’re part of a select inner circle. You’re Lizzie Bennet’s fake best friend—fun!

7. It’s Pride and Prejudice.

If you haven’t seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube, this long weekend is the perfect time to watch all of it. That’s what I’ll be doing.