Image via Pemberly Digital.
Image via Pemberly Digital

The meanings of my Tuesdays and Thursdays have changed since I left high school. Now, Tuesdays and Thursdays mean class at 9:40 and at 1:10 with two hours for lunch sandwiched between, then a shift at work, and a couple of hours for dinner and homework before I have to walk down the biggest hill in Ohio for ballroom practice.

But, if you had asked me what Tuesday or Thursday meant during ninth or tenth grade, I would have grabbed you by the arms, taken a huge breath, and cried, “LIZZIE BENNET!” before cartwheeling into the sunset and exploding into a ball of glitter.

For those of you who may not know what The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is, do a quick YouTube search to educate yourself.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, wherein the story is exclusively told through vlog format by the title character, Elizabeth Bennet. The plot is pretty much the same as the original novel, save a couple of character cuts and modern day equivalents. In other words, it’s absolute genius.

The creators, Hank Green and Bernie Su (cue angels singing, fanfare), are undeniably clever and savvy. They saw an opportunity to reinvent a classic story in a way that simply hadn’t been done or dared before. Sure, there have been TV miniseries (Colin Firth, anybody?) and movies (Keira Knightley *swoon*), but never a web series, let alone a YouTube series.

Everyone knows how much we youths use the YouTubes (try saying that five times fast). If you asked me if I could live without YouTube, I’d probably go, “Yeah, but not happily.” My favorite YouTubers provide me with study breaks and cheer-me-ups every day of the year. Who else has that claim? And Mr. Green and Mr. Su turned some of the most famous literary characters ever into modern day YouTubers. What.

I’m not gonna lie; I’m not a big Jane Austen fan. If I don’t have to read her books, I don’t read them. Pride and Prejudice doesn’t even come close to making my Top 50. That being said, I’m such a freaking romantic. I’m soppy, sappy, I watch a rom-com at least once a month, and I cry at the drop of a pin. I love a good Jane Austen adaptation, especially ones of Pride and Prejudice. Something about the story just gets me, and I couldn’t tell you why. So imagine my excitement when one of my favorite people on YouTube, and in general — Hank Green — posted a video announcing that he would be attempting his first-ever lit-to-YouTube adaptation: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. My friends and I flipped out.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries premiered on YouTube on April 9, 2012. To be perfectly honest, I was somewhat skeptical. Part of the reason why I disliked Austen novels so much was because I found a lot of the characters very two-dimensional, especially the women. But the first video was a pleasant surprise. In adapting the novel for their modern audience, Green and Su made the women actual people with actual jobs and actual careers, and they had a pretty diverse cast to boot. Finally, I had an Austen character I could relate to and an Austen heroine that I could look up to.

My friends and I waited every Tuesday and Thursday (at approximately 10 A.M.) for a new video. It was like having a new television show to watch, only worse, because YouTube videos are a fraction of the length of a TV episode, so you have less to live on until the next one airs.

Each episode of LBD was packed with plot without feeling overwhelming, and it gave us just enough to keep us sane. Even though we already knew how the story went, we still watched each episode with huge eyes, squealing over the tiniest details and wringing our hands over when we would finally get to see a new character, like George Wickham or Bing Lee or even… William Darcy.

The way that Green and Su organized LBD meant that they aired episode 60 — the first time we ever got to see a glimpse of Darcy and hear a bit of his voice — on a Thursday, which left almost five whole days for us to wait and bite our nails until the next Tuesday when we would finally see his face. I remember watching episode 60 in my high school library (which was always a questionable choice of location, considering that we had to be quiet) with one of my close friends who was also addicted to LBD; we reached the end of the video, got our glimpse of Darcy, and pretty much went numb. The video ended, and I watched my friend slowly slide to the floor. She then proceeded to lay face-down on the floor for ten minutes before we could elicit a response from her beyond that of a grunt or “uggghhhhhhhhhh.” When episode 61 aired on the following Tuesday, I didn’t watch it until late at night, but when I finally saw William Darcy and got to see him and Lizzie onscreen together… Hoo, boy. After the video ended, I called that same friend and we fan-girled about it for a good ten minutes before we went back to our homework. Imagine! All that, just from a web series.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries transformed storytelling and book-to-screen adaptation. It’s impossible to try to argue otherwise. Green and Su made an old story new, and they made it real. For those of us who had to experience it live, it was even more compelling and revolutionary because it had the factor of suspense. For those of you who are going to go hop on the LBD fan train now, you’ve got it so easy because all the episodes are right there! No waiting, no nail-biting, no endless and circular speculations about who you might meet next. Boy, have you got it lucky.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure where I’d be without my favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation. It gave me a way of appreciating a story that I wasn’t a huge fan of before, and it gave me role models. And that’s something pretty special.


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