I love modernized retellings of classic stories. “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Taming of the Shrew?” Check. “Easy A” and “The Scarlet Letter?” I’m all over it. “Clueless” and “Emma?” Like, totally!
Most of the adaptations that have caught my eye have been in the form of movies. This week, though, I discovered a way of retelling a classic using an even better medium than the silver screen — the internet.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (lizziebennet.com) is an “online modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice'” that centers primarily on video blogs created by Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet.
In high school, we had to read “Pride and Prejudice” and I just about had a fit. It was so boring and pompous and — ugh, just so… Regent. I couldn’t handle the syntax, not even when I followed along with the five-hour miniseries (the one with Colin Firth that is almost literally word-for-word from the book).
I don’t know what it took, but in the five or so years since first learning of that “truth universally acknowledged,” I came to really like the story of “Pride and Prejudice” — even if Jane Austen’s writing style still isn’t really my thing.
But the internet definitely is my thing, and if high school Jess had been able to participate in this project, I think I would’ve warmed up to the idea of spending a lifetime in Pemberly a lot more quickly.
While the diaries do focus primarily on Lizzie’s video blogs, the characters are really brought to life through their social media accounts, on which they interact with each other and with “real life” people — including the channel’s 77,000 subscribers.
The “modern” element of this adaptation is incredibly appealing. The characters use contemporary slang and make references to things like “living in a van down by the river.”
I love how the characters’ personalities are even further rounded out by their use of social media. Jane, who is “literally the nicest person on the planet” runs a Tumblr where she posts the (adorable) outfits she wore that day while also reblogging posts from nonfiction fashion blogs.
Her new boyfriend — the rich, hot, soon-to-be doctor Bing Lee (get it?) — posts semi-cryptic tweets like “that moment when you realize you’re just happy #beautifulday.”
And pretty much all of the characters interact with each other regularly on Twitter, Tumblr and even Facebook.
Unlike the passivity of watching a movie adaptation of a classic tale, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries places itself in the fluid dynamic of the internet, allowing the characters to interact with fans. Even if you’re not a big fan of Jane Austen, the project is definitely something to check out if only for its conceptual awesomeness.
Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.