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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
You have seen this sentence before. It is one of the best sentences in literature. Jane Austen is one of my literary idols. Next to Louisa May Alcott and Charles Dickens, Jane Austen introduced me to the world of classic literature and period dramas. I don’t want to brag but I’m sort of a period drama expert. I’ve been into them since I was six years old when my sister brought a VHS copy of Little Women (1994, very important fact here because Christian Bale) home. My family has never understood my love for period dramas. I’m the oddity. My greatest joy is getting people to watch period dramas. I’ve gotten around thirty people into watching Downton Abbey, ITV’s golden jewel. Every time I find out that there is a new adaptation of one of my favorite classic literary novels I starting jumping up and down because that means that there will be more period dress in my life! Give me the beautiful dresses and the men all trying to call on me. I want it.
However people dismiss period dramas for being hard to understand. They don’t understand why people are so passionate about books from the past being made into film. When people tell me “I don’t get Jane Austen” I look at them dumbfounded.
“Have you seen Bridget Jones’s Diary?” I ask. They respond with a “yes.” “Well you understand Jane Austen. Congratulations. You understand Pride and Prejudice.”
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is the newest adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Affectionately known by fans as LBD, the series became an Internet phenomenon in 2012. From April 9, 2012 until March 28, 2013, LBD aired for 100 episodes. The brain child of Hank Green—you might have heard of him. He’s the other half of the Vlogbrothers.—and Bernie Su, LBD became the webseries of Youtube. As a side note, cast member Maxwell Glick was a member of “lonelygirl15” which is probably the most influential Youtube series of all time. Also if you know “lonelygirl15” then you might have just dated yourself and how long you have been online. The series was destined to be successful on Youtube. As it won Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media.
I’m going to just assume that everyone is somewhat familiar with Pride and Prejudice. The 2005 film version is almost always on the television. LBD consists of Lizzie Bennet, the second of three daughters, who is working on her graduate thesis. The vlogs she posts are that thesis. Her best friend Charlotte Lu helps her out by filming and editing. Her older sister Jane works in the fashion industry while her younger sister Lydia is boy crazy.
As a modern day adaptation there are some differences with the names. Charles Bingley becomes Bing Lee. Mr. Collins becomes Mr. Ricky Collins. Pemberely Estate where the Darcys live becomes Pemberley Digital. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Georgiana Darcy become William and Gigi Darcy respectively. Kitty and Mary Bennet, two of the younger sisters in the novel become a cat and a cousin. There are also some plot changes to reflect the modernization but that would mean spoiling a good portion of the second half of the series.
The series initially started with just the core four of Lizzie, Jane, Charlotte, and Lydia. As the series grew more of the cast was revealed. I remember freaking out when we finally saw Bing. I remember sitting at LeakyCon crying over seeing Wickham’s first appearance. However I remember Darcy Day.
Darcy Day was the biggest day for the fandom. After 59 episodes we would finally be seeing Darcy for the first time ever. Episode 59 had his torso shown and everyone flipped out online. The cast and creators all knew that this was a big day. It did not disappoint at all. Even though it was the first onscreen appearance of the man that would sweep our heroine off our feet the videos leading up to this talked about Darcy several times thanks to Costume Theatre. Lizzie would have her sisters or Charlotte put on costumes to help her act out important scenes that happened in-between filming of vlogs. So by the time episode 60 arrived we already knew how to respond with Darcy. The wait was worth it.
There are a lot of unique aspects of this series that need to be pointed out. First of all, LBD is just one of the series in this world. Oh yes. LBD is just the main storyline. Several spinoffs where started during the run. “The Lydia Bennet” focused on Lydia and at first her relationship with her cousin Mary and then George Wickham. “Maria of the Lu” focused on Maria Lu, Charlotte’s younger sister, as she participated in an internship at Collins and Collins. “Pemberely Digital” featured Gigi Darcy as the beta tester for the Domino App that the company was putting out. Finally, “Welcome to Sandition” featured Gigi Darcy bringing the app to the community of Sanditon.
A second thing that made the series super effective was the use of transmedia. Transmedia is the process of telling a story across multiple platforms. Under the direction of Jay Bushman and Alexandra Edwards, the transmedia element of LBD was pretty much perfect. Every character had a twitter account and interacted with other characters. Some characters had accounts on Lookbook, Pinterest, and ThisIsMyJam. There are also the official tumblrs for Lizzie’s vlog and Pemberely Digital. The official LBD website also brought together every aspect of the story.
Another reason why the series became so successful was the cast interaction. Each member of the cast and production team has a Twitter account and they respond to fans frequently. A good portion of the cast has Instagram and Vine accounts. A lot of them have professional Facebook pages. Some members also have Tumblrs and personal Youtube channels. They also get together periodically at cons and support each other with their current projects. It’s one big LBD family!
The one thing everyone needs to take away from the LBD is this. The fans had an incredible “thank you” to the series. In March a Kickstarter from the now real life Pemberely Digital was started to help raise money for the series to be put on DVD, pay some bills, and fund “Welcome to Sanditon” to be a small series before the next big adaptation happened. The goal was $60,000. It made that in six hours. After the Kickstarter was finished the fans raised over $500,000 to the company. Yeah that’s impressive.
Even though LBD is finished, the world that it is in is not. Starting on October 8 the next Pemberly Digital series will premiere. “Emma Approved” is a modern day adaptation of the novel Emma. [Hint: if you have seen Clueless, you know the main plotline for Emma.] While there is not much known about the new series at all it has been confirmed that every series done by Pemberley Digital is in the same world as LBD.
The cast is also hard at work. This is what is happening with some of the cast members right now. Briana Cuoco, Mary Bennet and Kaley Cuoco’s sister, is currently on The Voice as a member of Team Christina. Laura Spencer, Jane Bennet, has a Skittles ad on the tv right now and had a guest role on Switched at Birth this summer. Mary Kate Wiles, Lydia Bennet, just finished the second season of Squaresville, another webseries she is a part of and created a collaborative Youtube account with Rachel Kiley, one of the writers of the series, call looselybolted. Maxwell Glick, Mr. Ricky Collins, actively vlogs on his Youtube channel mrcheezypop where he sometimes vlogs in his closet. Julia Cho and Daniel Vincent Gordh, Charlotte Lu and Darcy, can currently be seen in the recently opened production of Cowboy Versus Samurai in Los Angeles.
Okay so now you know about the LBD. Here’s the series in playlist mode. Warning: the series is nearly 8 hours long. You might end up spending your whole day falling in love. But that’s okay.
“My name’s Lizzie Bennet…“
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1. Randomly hitting your keyboard to express overwhelming emotion, such as anger or excitement.
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1. Favorite combination of five persons in a fandom.
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