Alright, so, welcome to this thing! 😛 Here is where I take a look at things (movies, books, web series, music, etc) that have been adapted from classic works of literature. I’ll admit that as I get the hang of this I’ll probably be starting with featuring a bunch of awesome web series that have been adapted from classic literary fiction, but that’s as great a place to start as any. And since many literary classics definitely have more than one adaptation, I am going to start discussing one adaption per post – after all, how many different versions of Pride and Prejudice exist out there, am I right? Okay, let’s start!
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was probably my first real foray into the medium of YouTube-based web series. But this series did far more than live exclusively through humorous and relatable videos – while this series was airing from April 2012 to March of 2013, the characters were active on many forms of social media, giving the audience a while new dimension of interactivity. This great decision led to the series winning an Interactive Media Emmy in 2013! How awesome is that?!
But let’s take a look at how closely this adaptation remains true to the original text, what changes were made, and whether or not watching this series is worth your time, all without delving into any major spoilers.
Obviously this series is not a direct transcription; it modenizes the plot by telling the story in the format of a personal vlog, permanently nicknames the main heroine Lizzie, and while the original Pride and Prejudice is told by an unnamed narrator, the events in this series are mainly broken down by Lizzie, but there are many moments when best friend Charlotte, dearest older sister Jane, and brash younger sister Lydia decide to chime in, either attempting to give a less biased version of a night’s events or just having fun and giving you a unique perspective on the world in which these character’s live. Other characters even release their own videos, such as Lydia, Charlotte’s younger sister Maria, and Darcy’s younger sister Gigi.
The modernization is the main shift that this series makes from its source text, but there is one unique factor that I find is both true to the book and potentially paves the way for future media. The relationships that are given the biggest focus in LBD are the ones between female characters: Lizzie and her sisters, Lizzie and her best friend Charlotte, and the strained relationship between Lizzie and her mother is even deconstructed for us through the charming uses of costume theater. The character of Darcy, who is a very prevalent figure in the book and has been put atop a pedestal in today’s culture (when someone mentions Pride and Prejudice nowadays, one of the first things that will come to a person’s mind is Mr. Darcy), in LBD while he is represented through costume theater much like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, he doesn’t make an on-screen appearance until episode 60 (November 1st will forever be known to me as Darcy Day). The book contains a definite emphasis on female relationships, and perhaps this is something that should be encouraged in our media nowadays as opposed to the constant fixation on “the romance plot.” An article written by Susan Celia Greenfield on Ms. Blog Magazine better flushes out this idea, which you can find here.
Now to answer the question “Is this web series worth my time?” I would answer with a resounding YES! You do not need to have read the original text to understand this series, and is thoroughly entertaining for many types of audiences. It stays true to the book where it needs to and expands and modernizes the story where it is most definitely needed (for example, how two more bonus episodes were added just last year so we could see more of Lizzie [and more of Darcy 😉 ]). Check out the first episodes and you’ll be instantly hooked. If you’d like to watch ALL of the videos tied to this series in the order that they were meant to be seen, you can check out this playlist that I have created here.
Let me know in the comments if there’s a particular adaptation you’d like to hear about next, or a specific classic that you’d like me to focus on and find adaptations for!