The Future Of Television – “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”

We showed a YouTube video to the inlaws on our TV the other day. We watched the Evening Of Awesome on the TV as well. It’s really hard lately to draw the line between TV and INTERNET as devices like AppleTV and Roku make blending the two so easy.

BUT! For the sake of this post, let’s keep them separate.

I started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries one day out of sheer boredom. I’ll admit…never made it through Pride & Prejudice…the book OR any of the movie adaptations. So, a web series/modern-day adaptation didn’t appeal to me at launch. BUT…I have loved every other thing the Vlogbrothers do online, so one boring day I gave it a shot.

lbd

AND. I. JUST. COULDN’T. STOP.

I caught up to the “real” world in no time at all. Ashley Clements is a compelling actor and I loved the personality she gave Lizzie. I loved her sisters and I loved Bing Lee. I just couldn’t wait for each episode to push the story along so I finished all of the videos in a few days. (I think, at the time, there were about 50.)

As I started having to wait between episodes, I began exploring the LBD universe. Lydia had her own channel that was TOTES COOL of course. Charlotte had a Twitter. Everywhere I clicked there was more of the universe I could explore and before I knew it I had THREE YouTube subscriptions and a Twitter List filled with character accounts, actor accounts, and writer accounts associated with the show.

I even familiarized myself with the actual book Pride & Prejudice, even if the modernization of it proved many of the storylines ineffective.

That’s the cool thing about this adaption. You can know the story, but you don’t know how they’ll translate it to this environment. So…there is still mystery and surprise.

But – the series really started taking it to the next level last weekend. The characters Lizzie, Darcy (Mr. Darcy from the book), and his sister Gigi (who is trying her BEST to get her brother and Lizzie together) went exploring in San Francisco. In the story they did. Viewers understood that was going to be happening. But what actually DID happen? Is that the character Gigi started tweeting about it. Photos AND ALL.

(The management of all of those accounts on Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube FASCINATE ME, BTW.)

HOW COOL IS THAT? I was refreshing that feed on my phone ALL DAY LONG. She was posting pictures and making great meta comments like:

(If you don’t get that one, you don’t spend as much time on Tumblr as I do. Here’s the definition of “shipping”.)

It was GREAT. We – as fans – were able to watch this story unfold IN REAL TIME. And we could “SQUUUUEEEEEE!” about it and it was just SO FUN.

And the actors? Are BRILLIANT. Lydia (Lizzie’s sister) has started her downward spiral which is unfolding in this adaptation in ways very different from the book. And watching that actress (Mary Kate Wiles) who rocked the Text Speak with such voraciousness – take it to a dark and almost twisted level? Has been beautiful and devastatingly sad. The difference between her first video and her most recent should win her all of the awards.

And just as I started to really worry about how this story could possibly keep unfolding in the illusion of a YouTube Vlog, the team behind the series launched a Twitter account for Darcy’s Company and that faux enterprise launched another YouTube Channel to promote this fancy new video app.

Basically? The writers opened up an entire new world of video setups for their audience. AND IT IS DAMN GENIUS.

The term being thrown around is “Transmedia” which I think is PERFECT. They are taking us around different YouTube channels, through Twitter, over yFrog for photos, microblogs, videos…giving the fans an all-around interactive experience. The showrunner, Bernie Su, did an AMA at Reddit that’s full of tons of great information, if you want to read more about how he approaches the transmedia aspect of the show.

All of the media babble aside? I’m not sure if I’ve ever had anywhere close to this much fun with a TV show before. If you want to join in (I don’t think it’s supposed to run much longer, maybe a few months?) then you should start here. But, be prepared to be sucked into the world beyond any scope of your imagination.

I really hope this is what is in store for those of us avid TV fans. The potential is endless.

Edited to Add: SHIT JUST GOT REAL Y’ALL!

(Here’s a rundown from the showrunner of the chaos that unfolded in the LBD world yesterday.)

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22 Responses

  1. I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Monday’s episode had me falling out of my seat laughing so hard at the end. I love the Pride and Prejudice spins, and this one is seriously the best, by far, and I’m saying that after being obsessed with the Kiera Knightly version. I’m SO excited to see what’s coming up next.
    I couldn’t finish Lydia’s last video. I just couldn’t. It was too heartbreaking. The actress is AMAZING and they all really suck you in, but she, wow. She really tugs on the heartstrings and makes you want to go “Damn it, NO! Back away, walk away.” :’(

  2. Melizzard says:

    As a total Janeite I was a little leary of these. But then I started watching them and thought they were Adorbs. LOL.

    But I do have to say I don’t like what they are doing with Lydia/Wickham. One of the things that I really liked about the whole deal was that despite the modernization they weren’t significantly altering the essential story – until now.

    It still felt like Jane, just in a modern setting. The bend the they’ve taken with Lydia and especially George is too far off course for my tastes and so far from feeling that came from Jane Austin.

    • ClaiR says:

      The problem is in this story its the 21st century and Lydia is 21. Running off and a shotgun wedding aren’t as much of a scandal. Even pregnancy wouldn’t be. I think what’s happened is shocking and will effect Lydia for years to come, the same as in the book.

  3. Kali says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I will get started watching. I am with you, I could never get through the book though I loved the PBS version and the Kiera Knightly movie. I read a book where Darcy had a rock bank and the Bennett Sisters became their opening act. It was really very clever.

  4. Melizzard says:

    OK… so when I wrote the above comment I hadn’t even seen what they posted this afternoon. I’m really really disappointed they took this direction. I guess I just can’t let go of the fact that at it’s heart this is supposed to be a Jane novel, and this is just too much. What was so clever, now seems, somehow less and tainted, like they took the easy (sleazy) way out.

    • zoot says:

      I am torn – because NOW it answers the question of how they’d incorporate the whole “Mr. Darcy Bribes George To Marry Lydia” thing. And while I’m glad to see they are TRYING to make that story line happening (I’m assuming) I’m not entirely sure I like where it’s going

      Since I’m not an Austen purist – I don’t know how to analyze this story as an “Austen” work like you do – but I have been sucked into as a simple story and this twist doesn’t jive with me either. I do trust the writers though – so I’ll hold and and see – but I was really hoping that they’d just DITCH the whole “Mr. Darcy/George/Lydia Marriage” part of the story, honestly, because I didn’t think that would adapt well and still preserve the modern day characters.

      Does that make sense? I wanted the CHARACTERS to be worth more than the importance of stick to the original adaption. And it seems now that they’re trying to stick to the original story in some weird and twisted way – at (possibly) the sacrifice of the characters they’ve spent months developing.

      So – while I’m unhappy like you are – it’s for different reasons :)

      BUT – I’ve loved it until this point – and I was really hoping there’d be some really good way that they helped Lydia and still preserved the characters they’d built – and now? I have no idea how this will play out. But I’ll stick with it b/c I’m intrigued!

      • Melizzard says:

        I can see that and I think you are seeing it from an Austin point of view, what makes Jane’s work so wonderful are the characters and how honest she is with them, even the ones she dislikes.

        Honestly I thought the whole thing was going to go down the domestic and or substance abuse path or something like that. Darcy needs George to do something that he can pay him off about, Darcy has to save Lydia from herself – that much had to happen to make Lizzie turn the corner with her love for Darcy – but I could allow for George and Lydia to not end up together in a modern version. It was the only choice in 1813 (otherwise Lydia turns into Ethel over at Downton Abbey) today that is not the case. But this? I agree with you, they are staying too close to plot and making it about just sex, when they could have done more.

        After stewing on it awhile I think what most bothers me is the transmedia treatment of this particular twist and the fact that there is a functional “Pre-Order” list – if it had just been something the characters discussed, vlogged about, and fretted over, and ultimately was a plot point to move the story forward that would have been more palletable. Having people sign up to for a pre-order, even if – as we assume – it will never truly exist is just creepy.

        • zoot says:

          EW! There’s a functional pre-order list? That IS creepy. I freaked out a bit when I opened the link at home and didn’t want anyone in my family (husband or teen) think I was really looking at pr0n! That is creepy, you are right!

          All analysis aside though? I am totally in love with the Darcy in this version, so honestly? He’s pretty much what’s keeping me in :)

        • AGM says:

          I think the point of the shock and disgust involved with the direction of Lydia and Wickham’s story is to translate those same emotions a reader might have felt reading this in Austen’s time. Eloping, living with a man unmarried, etc. would have been as shocking and disgusting. They had to do it; it is the modern equivalent of Lydia’s behavior in the book.

          As I try to predict where they’ll take this, I assume that the videos will be stopped by Darcy spending some money. However, there’s no possible way for Lydia to stay with Wickham like she stays with and marries him in the novel. In the novel, Lydia is destined to live a crappy life with Wickham, whether she remains oblivious to it or not. In this adaptation, Lydia is shown to have more depth, more redeeming qualities, so while she may be destined to embarrassment and heartbreak and a lesson learned, it won’t be through marrying Wickham.

    • wynne says:

      That’s an interesting take on it. I actually was less annoyed with what they did with Lydia than what they did with the Domino app (which stretches my suspension of disbelief a little too much, even if I get why they’re doing it in terms of the narrative). I guess the reason the tape doesn’t really bother is because, back in the day, sex and co-habitation before marriage were such a big damn deal. It WAS sleazy in the book in a way that we modern-day readers don’t really comprehend, especially when we’re so fond of Elizabeth and Darcy and Lydia’s storyline basically happens off screen.

  5. MrsDragon says:

    So, you know that I love this adaptation. It’s the first thing I’ve really ever fan girled over and, I’m just left squeeing.

    I will say that I totally called the sex tape thing.

    Here’s why:

    They needed for something to happen to Lydia that:
    a) Lydia would happily participate in (just as she ran off with George and was not kidnapped or blackmailed)
    b) It needed to be something George would have no qualms about but that was good for him (here, the porn makes him money, in the book, he was getting laid and having company.
    c) Would completely tarnish Lydia’s reputation. An out of wedlock pregnancy wouldn’t, especially not at her age. If he raped her, then she would be the victim, and while some in society would consider her tarnished that is completely fucked up and NOT something I could see this production doing.
    d) Since the relationship was romantic, it needed to be something romantic.

    However,

    I am surprised they’ve taken the abusive angle, I expected that Lydia would be her happy go lucky self and then George would post the tape without her consent. With the abuse angle though, we DO see why she would stay with him, AND understand why Lizzie is going to fear so much for her future happiness. (Lack of stature in society doesn’t inspire the same concern that it did in Austen’s time.) I just didn’t predict that.

    • zoot says:

      Yes – I’m wondering where they’re going to go with the Lydia/George relationship now. Obviously they can’t end up together – not and give us any sort of “happy ending” right? Can George redeem himself at all at this point? I’m assuming the Darcy’s wallet will of course save Lydia by paying George to take down the site etc., but will Lydia and George stay together? Will Darcy pay him even more to leave so Lydia can heal without him?

      SO MANY QUESTIONS. :)

      • MrsDragon says:

        My guess? They do. Because I can see Lizzie saying NO STAY AWAY! and Lydia saying IT”S MY DECISION! and George trying to slink off in the background.

        BUT I can also see Lizzie having matured enough to not try to force Lydia to do anything and George slinking off even though Lydia WANTED to stay together and Lydia ending up coming home heartbroken and in need of love from her sisters.

  6. Sara says:

    I always wondered how they were going to pull off Lydia’s downfall because running off with a man isn’t a scandal in theses days. To be honest, when I read the book I knew it was a big deal she ran off, but it wasn’t until they revealed the sex tape as her downfall that I really got how big of a deal running off was.

    To be honest, I hope Lydia and Wickham don’t end up together. They’ve set him up as manipulative and emotionally abusive, separating her from her family. I dont think she was filmed without knowing, I think she was filmed in a “this will be just for us and will make me happy. You do want to make me happy, right?” way. In the book it is in Lydia’s best interest to be married to Wickham, in this version, get her as far away from him as possible. I hope that Lydia is smart enough to realize this.

  7. Alison says:

    Lydia’s storyline was always going to be tricky and I thought they would take it down a different line involving Whickham borrowing money off her or getting her mixed up in drugs or something. The other problem with this adaptation is that in the original novel Lydia leaves of her own free will with Whickham and knows that she’s doing wrong by society’s standards but doesn’t really care. When Darcy tries to explain why it’s so bad that she’s living with him unmarried, Lydia shrugs it off by saying it doesn’t make much difference either way and Whickham will probably marry some rich girl anyway to help them with money. Yes, she’s infatuated with Whickham but she isn’t abused, she’s just very naive and doesn’t realise that Whickham will eventually get fed up with her and leave her, or just carry on having a string of affairs

  8. ladyfabulous says:

    Wickham is an abusive turd. Watching Lydia’s videos, you can see her deterioration once George enters the picture. The words he uses, the way he makes it seem like it is he and Lydia against the Bennets, he is calculatedly trying to widen the wedge between Lydia and her sisters so that she will become more dependant on him as her soul means of support and understanding. It’s classic emotional abuse in it’s depiction and I think the writers are brilliant for taking things in this direction.
    In the original P&P, Lydia was too flighty to care about any societal fallout. She never gave thought to where money would come from or where they would live, but also, we only saw that Lydia from Elizabeth’s perspective. With the videos, we are now able to interact with Lydia in a way that was impossible before and giving this character that much more depth only makes the story better.
    Lydia ending up with Wickham in the original P&P wasn’t a “happy ending” it was what was right. Sure Lydia didn’t seem bothered by it, but that’s because she has no idea what life is going to be like with George once the shiny veneer wears off.
    The sex tape is awful, but smart on the part of the writers because there is something really big that will affect everyone involved in a big way, especially Lydia. There is real and instant consequences for Lydia to deal with, which the reader was never privy to with Austen’s Lydia.
    And I’d be ok with the writers taking some chances with the story and redeeming Lydia’s character in a way that Austen’s P&P couldn’t/didn’t.

  9. Maid says:

    Addicted to THe Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

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