I am always slow to jump on any trend. It used to be because I lived abroad for so long and when your peers aren't pointing you in the right direction, you tend to ignore or not notice all the current 'trends.' Now I'm just not actively looking for new content although I try. I recently discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a YouTube web series, a modern day re-telling of the well loved book by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. A 2013 Primetime Emmy Award Winner and with 262,000 subscribers, if you're a fan of the book or the BBC series, I would definitely recommend it. There are over 100 episodes (between 3-5 minutes) and the whole thing takes about 5 hours to watch. I went through 3 hours within two days. Here's why:
1. You grow to love all of the characters. Every character is well written and there is obvious thought put into all of them. Each one grows over time and are actually even more 3-dimensional then Austen's originals. Also, because the episodes are so short, there's no beating about the bush. We find out more and more about Lizzie, Lydia, Charlotte and Jane quite quickly.
2. Mrs Bennet is still awesome! We never see the parents of Lizzie Bennet but are invited to watch her brilliant re-enactment of various moments of dialogue between her and her mother and they are just as entertaining as Alison Steadman's performance in the BBC's 1995 series.
3. Charlotte is my favourite character. Charlotte, who comes across as rather mercenary and cold in the original is in fact one of the highlights of this version. She is still logical, but with all the fire and passion of a business woman and most importantly, Lizzie's friend through thick and thin.
4. Lizzie Bennet is fascinating to watch. The series takes place in the style of a vlog and part of the reason it works is because Ashley Clements who plays Lizzie, can hold your attention for as long as she wants to. From the moment she starts, as dubious as I was about someone remaking my beloved P&P, she held me and I don't care what she talks about - I'm going to listen.
5. It's so simple...yet so clever. Production costs are obviously very low on a production like this as all the drama takes place through retelling off screen happenings and re-enactment. This might lead you to think it would be easy to make something like this. In the grand scheme of filmmaking, it's probably a cheaper option but you have to have some very skilled scriptwriting and a killer cast to pull it off.
6. It points towards a new era. I am watching less and less mainstream TV these days and turning more and more to my own choice of series through Netflix and YouTube personalities I enjoy. I spend an awful amount of time on YouTube and I love the fact that I can find new and interesting productions, all waiting at my fingertips. I love that talented people can raise money on Kickstarter and make something they have created without running through studios and producers until there is nothing left of their original idea. I also believe that the time-frame for the LBD are perfect. I much prefer watching 3 minute episodes for 5 hours than watching 30 minute episodes over 4 weeks. The former allows me to stop whenever I want to and pick it up again later. Who said things need to be and an hour and a half or forty minutes anyway? Why do we have to stick to the rules made years ago? Move with the times.
7. There is a more...and more and more! When I feel like I need more of the LBD, I can simply head over to Mary Kate Wiles' YouTube channel and watch her Audition Chronicles. Or I can go to Pemberly Digital and watch some of their other productions. I can even go through Lizzie and Lydia's twitter feeds to see photos of some of the things that were mentioned in the series but that we didn't see. The social media team on this project were extrememly clever with it and I feel like especially for people like me who come along late to the party, there is a massive world to go through. You're not left with that sad feeling when a good series ends because you know there's more.
8. Mr Collins is still...Mr Collins! I think the scriptwriters did a fantastic job of keeping the characters true to their original form yet making them entirely their own creation at the same time. Mr Collins has been reincarnated into the modern era in the best way possible, a sleezy web video company owner and he still creeps me out and amuses me just as much as ever.
9. Mr Bingley is now Bing Lee and is of asian descent. It works and for all those die hard fans, little gems like that make it all the more fun
10. It's just good old fun entertainment. I am sick to death of festival-winning, dark, misery-induced, drug-abusing, coming-of-age films. I'm tired of being fed character arcs about cancer, alzheimer's and adultery all the time with very little mainstream alternative to turn to. I still believe that films should take the audience to a world they don't live in. A better world. A world where they want to be friends with all the characters. That's what the Lizzie Bennet Diaries does for me.
Check out the first episode below! Hang in there, it's worth the watch I promise!