Jane Austen isn’t everyone’s cup of high tea. Some of my high school friends were on the brink of burning their copies of Emma during honors lit senior year (due to the amount of work involved in studying the novel rather than the actual content). To make Austen a bit more relatable for this day and age, Hank Green and Bernie Su have created a web series adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, aptly named The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
This series tells the story of Jane Austen’s classic novel from the perspective of the novel’s main protagonist, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet. Lizzie, played by the brilliant Ashley Clements, talks directly to her audience, vlog-style, about her crazy family, her mother’s plans to marry her and her sisters off as soon as possible, and her own adventures as a modern woman. Each video is about five minutes long and features costume theater, banter, and several scoops of snark and wit.
Su and Green haven’t forgotten about the other ladies of Pride & Prejudice. Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte helps out behind the camera (and occasionally in front of it), Jane appears frequently, and I’m convinced that Lydia is secretly trying to take over the show. Of course we can’t forget about the men in Lizzie’s life! The brooding Mr. Darcy has yet to make an appearance, but Bing Lee (Mr. Bingly) and George Wickham have become regulars in recent episodes.
The best thing about this series is the way that the creative team has utilized other social media sites such as Twitter and Tumblr to tell the story from every angle. Each character has their own Twitter account, which they often use to converse with each other. They even made a LinkedIn account for Mr. Collins, now a venture capitalist specializing in online video, and a Pinterest page for Jane, now an up-and-coming fashion designer. Su and Green have also created two spin-off vlogs featuring Lydia, Lizzie’s flirty and fun younger sister, and Maria, Charlotte’s younger sister and Mr. Collins’s intern.
The series launched in April and already has over 96,000 subscribers on YouTube. They are 54 episodes in, but the creative team has created helpful playlists for those just getting started. “Lizzie” posts new videos every Monday and Thursday, so be sure to check her out!