The world needs another Pride And Prejudice adaptation like it needs… nope, there’s no way to finish that sentence, because there is nothing the world needs less than another Pride And Prejudice adaptation. And yet here’s another one! However, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” earns points for originality as probably the first attempt to adapt a novel to the piecemeal, short-form, overly-jump-cut “vlog” format. A present-day retelling conceived in part by YouTube VIP Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers, the series consists mainly of brainy grad student “Lizzie Bennet” (played by actress Ashley Clements) sitting in her bedroom talking about her brood of sisters (who occasionally burst into her bedroom to join in), her obnoxious mother (played by Lizzie in costume), her best friend/camerawoman Charlotte, the rich medical student named “Bing Lee” who just moved in next door, and his mysterious friend Darcy. (“Isn’t that Colin Firth’s name in that Chubby Zellweger movie?”)
Despite the familiar story, it’s interesting to see how the series adapts the normalities of Jane Austen’s day to modern times: Dowries are now crushing student-loan debt, weddings take the place of fancy balls, and gossip is meted out via text and Facebook. It doesn’t all work perfectly—the marriage-obsessed Mrs. Bennet is a particularly problematic anachronism—but it’s interesting to see how the series incorporates new-school vlogger conventions into such an old-school text. (English majors of the world, here is your textual-comparison term paper, right in time for finals!)
The series is still just ramping up, still focusing mainly on character introductions—Lizzie and Jane haven’t even visited Netherfield yet—and at less than three minutes apiece, the existing videos are easy to catch up with. If you want to find out what happens next, you’ll have to wait for more episodes, which post roughly twice a week… otherwise, you’ll have to read the book or watch one of the berjillion movies and just imagine all the jump-cuts.