Rant and Rave: ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’

Rating: 4.0

Poster courtesy of Pemberley Digital

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the leading foundations of the most common love story subplots, at least in this day and age: that is, a working class girl who has a certain prejudice against a wealthy man, who is a little too proud to pronounce his true intentions, but finds her way to him. Many people are somewhat familiar with this age-old classic but never has it ever been told in such a way as in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a project produced by Hank Green and Bernie Su. It is a retelling of the Austen classic in the form of a video blog, with Lizzie (Elizabeth) “vlogging” about the various events in her and her family’s life. Lizzie is not alone in this as her sisters, Jane and Lydia, and her best friend, Charlotte, often join her in the present reality translation of the original novel.

In this story, Lizzie is a graduate student who majors in Mass Communications, and her mother constantly berates her and her sisters to go and find a rich husband to marry. Her older sister, Jane, works in the fashion industry, while her little sister, Lydia, is one who goes on with her “blatant consumerism” in the midst of their “financial difficulties”. Charlotte is a TV and film production student, and is the editor of the vlogs. The premise of the entire video blog series is that Lizzie documents her life through Youtube for a school project, just when Bing Lee and his mysterious friend, Mr. Darcy, come into the neighbourhood.

Funny, lively, and with each video less than four minutes long, ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ is an inviting, fresh concept that entertains in a way that no other work of fiction has ever been translated before. The videos are aired biweekly on Youtube with, at present, over fifty thousand subscribers who tune in to find out more about the Bennet sisters.

Though the story is deeply rooted in the Austen classic, the writing for the show is relevant to the current plagues of society. Lizzie, as a Mass Communications graduate student, has dreams of changing culture for the betterment of society. The show often has underlying tones of social commentary, seen through the dialogue between the different characters. Words with negative connotations in present society, social classes and situations, views on traditional and modern relationships, and remarks on gender equality are prevalent in the more recent episodes. Examples can be seen through the various eccentricities of Mrs. Bennet in trying to get her daughters wedded to the next rich single man, through Lydia and her usage offensive words every so often, among others.

In order to satisfy the bulk of the story, the actresses who portray Charlotte and the Bennet sisters often do impersonations of the other characters – Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Bing Lee, Mr. Darcy, and even George Wickham – in order to keep the fluidity of the show going. The essence of a video blog is maintained by the storytelling, as there is only one setting, and the story is told in a very conversational way.

The presence of comments from viewers, the replies from the team behind The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and even the ‘liking’ system of Youtube, shows the different kinds of audiences the series attracts, and allows interaction from all parties. Viewers from all over the world could talk to each other and sometimes, even Lizzie or Charlotte would reply to the comments beneath their videos.

While there might be some people who would deem reading Austen’s book too tedious, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries allow people to know the story of Elizabeth Bennet in a contemporary voice. It is shown in such a way that people see the romantic story in a comedic light, making people interested in where the actual story came from. Far from the current trend of taking best-selling novels and classic fairytales into movie adaptations, the concept of virtual online storytelling in such a way, this way which makes viewers feel more connected to the characters, has garnered a positive reaction from its viewership.

What started out as an experimental video series could possibly be the start of a new era of storytelling. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are breaking communication barriers, telling people stories in a way that has never been done before – and that is a truth universally acknowledged.

The videos on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries have been watched over 2 million times with a growing number of subscribers every single day. A new episode is released every Monday and Thursday in America. They can be found on Youtube at

Jonnah Dayuta

By Jonnah Dayuta

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