Modern Jane Austen Fanfiction (kind of): The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Emma Approved

Once again, happy Friday everyone!

Earlier this week, I decided to reward myself after a particularly productive day with some episodes of The Lizzy Bennet Diaries. For those of you who don’t know, The Lizzy Bennett Diaries is a web series that tells the story of a modern day Pride and Prejudice. Each episode is pretty short, and they can be rather addicting.

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Lizzie Bennett is a twenty-four year old communications grad student who is living at home and is making a personal vlog for her final thesis project. The Diaries turn into a place where she can discuss or rant about her mother’s obsession to marry off her daughters, her best friend and editor, Charlotte Lu; her sister’s relationship with Bing Lee (see what they did there), and the bane of her existence, William Darcy (who, in my opinion, doesn’t beat Collin Firth’s Darcy, but that’s okay). The show pokes fun at the original story of Pride and Prejudice while staying true to the plot. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” makes its way onto a t-shirt in the first episode and Lizzy ends up at Pemberly Digital, “…why does that sound so familiar.”

While at first, the Diaries can be a little awkward (which the characters acknowledge), by the end they have dealt with some real issues, and are very entertaining. They do a good job of modernizing problems a woman in the nineteenth century would have to make the videos relatable to a modern audience, and they do a good job of showing the complexity of the story behind Pride and Prejudice.

Although Pride and Prejudice is a boy meets girl story, it is also a coming of age story where Lizzie finds out that her narrow minded first impressions of people might not actually be as true as she thought they were. The working title of the book was First Impressions, after all. The diaries really highlight this through the whole first person talking to a camera narration style, and Lizzie has no problem airing her opinions to the world. In the end she really is a more mature and ultimately happier person than she was at the start of the videos, and not just because she has a man, although Darcy is definitely one reason. She also has a better relationship with her sister, Lydia, which is developed throughout the Diaries, and she has answered the ever dreaded question of what are you going to do after finishing school?

There are also spin off videos for Lydia and other characters that I still have to watch as well – vlogging seems to be contagious in Lizzie Bennett’s world.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries definitely highlight how strong Lizzie Bennett is as a character while still showing her weaknesses. She uses the video to come to terms with pretty much everything that is going on around her, and is frequently pretty vulnerable. All in all it made me want to re-read Pride and Prejudice. Or watch the BBC miniseries which is pretty much the book word for word. Or maybe do both.

Anyway, I was reminded of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries because there is a new Jane Austen modernized fanfic video (or whatever you want to call it) out for Emma, called Emma Approved. It started this past week, and will update on Mondays and Thursdays. In it, Emma Woodhouse is a matchmaker for a lifestyles group and has a perfect success record, until one of her couples questions breaking up (sounds familiar). It is clear from the start that vlog Emma, much like book Emma, is extremely confident in herself,and extremely naive – a good place for a character to be at the beginning of a novel, especially a Jane Austen novel (or vlog).

I started reading Emma one year for fun in high school, but like so many other books I have tried to read, school got in the way and I didn’t have a chance to finish it. I do remember liking it though, and after this modernized Jane Austen kick I started, I’m in the mood to give it another shot. I’m already in the middle of a good book, but everyone needs a few options for the long weekend right?

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One thought on “Modern Jane Austen Fanfiction (kind of): The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Emma Approved

  1. Pingback: Just Like Shakespeare: Twelfth Night | goodbookscents

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