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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Youtube web-series is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that has expanded the world of Austen so effectively that we have fallen head-over-heels with the newly developed characters.

You won’t find any hate against the Pride and Prejudice source material here, we adore Jane Austen’s novel (not to mention Mr Darcy). But what The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has managed to do is improve on those supporting characters who Austen just didn’t have the space to develop in her original novel. We believe this in-universe expansion is only a good thing.

Given the choice between added scenes involving zombie hunting, added sex scenes, and expanded character development – we’ll take the third option. It’s not about “fixing” Austen, it’s about bringing this 200 year old story to a modern audience. These reinventions have been so effective by the team behind The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that there are four supporting characters who have been standouts in the web-series in a way that would have been impossible in Austen’s original novel.

Charlotte Lu

While the diverse casting is wonderful, the most interesting thing about Charlotte is not how her surname has changed, but the ways her character has. For the first time, we can actually see that Lizzie and Charlotte’s friendship was based on more than mere proximity. Portrayed by the wonderful Julia Cho, we see Charlotte standing up to Lizzie at various points in the series, making their friendship both more interesting and more believable.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries have also striven to show Charlotte as a character in her own right. She is a successful woman in her new job, which is the modern twist on the Collins proposal. And Charlotte is also forced to take responsibility for the way she convinces Collins to offer her the job, an aspect which is usually left unaddressed. Their reunion is the better for these changes, and their relationship provides a grounding to the show and to Lizzie herself.

Lydia Bennet

The development of Lydia has been the most dramatic (and often controversial) reinvention. Lydia’s actions provide the impetus for the entire final section of the novel, but usually we are only told that Lydia is the bad guy, shaming her family and being a general nuisance. We haven’t see the reasoning behind Lydia’s decisions, the hurt she feels after being left out by her older sisters, or the real attraction she has to Wickham – not until now.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has not diminished Lydia. Instead, through some spectacular acting by Mary Kate Wiles, we see her slowly falling for Wickham and becoming alienated from her family. So can we blame her for her actions? In past adaptations (and the novel) the audience has been just as judgemental of Lydia as Elizabeth is. How refreshing to see an adaptation that makes Lydia’s journey just as important as Lizzie’s.

Caroline Lee

Caroline was an unlikely candidate for development, given her relative unimportance in the grand scheme of Pride and Prejudice. But suddenly in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, we understand the way in which Caroline subtly manipulates everyone around her, as shown wonderfully by Jessica Jade Andres. The decision to make Caroline and Lizzie friends has allowed Caroline to be a more powerful personality, using Lizzie’s own prejudices against her.

Making Caroline aware of the videos (while Bing and Darcy remained in the dark) gave her the trump card. Her faux friendship with Lizzie allowed Caroline to push her own agenda (spoiler: she wants Darcy), by being sneaky, pushy, overbearing and underhand. And she was surprisingly effective. Interestingly, one of the best episodes to date was “C vs. C”, which featured two generally ignored supporting characters – Charlotte and Caroline.

George Wickham

How do you approach a character who an audience is destined to dislike? After all, if fans weren’t aware that he would be the downfall of poor Lydia, it’s unlikely that his portrayal on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries would have been met with such vitriol. We know we aren’t supposed to like him, and we know (or we think we know) how his story will end up, so why bother with the pretence of innocence? He’s the bad guy, after all. Well – not quite.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (and spin-off The Lydia Bennet) have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that there are two sides to each story, even to Wickham and Darcy’s. Wickham may be manipulating Lydia to some extent, but do we know that he does not care about her? The fact that we are even prompted to have these conversations is a testament to the work by the LBD writing team, and some superb acting by Wes Aderhold.

And everyone else

These four may have received the largest rewrites, but we believe that every character has benefited greatly from the close attention of the production team. Every character is treated empathetically, becoming much more than simply the props in Lizzie and Darcy’s drama.

Fitz Williams (Craig Frank) has become an unashamed ‘Dizzie’ shipper. Jane (Laura Spencer) has become a measure of self-awareness for the other characters. Gigi Darcy (Allison Paige) is not just the sidekick to Wickham’s story, but a wonderful character in her own right who is still being developed (now with her own spinoff on the Pemberley Digital channel).

Charlotte’s little sister Maria (Janice Lee) was instrumental in bringing Charlotte and Lizzie back together. Ricky Collins (Maxwell Glick) isn’t ridiculous, he is merely passionate about his work. Mary (Briana Cuoco) becomes a cousin who refuses to be Lydia’s last resort. And finally, while we haven’t yet seen a huge amount of Bing Lee (Christopher Sean), but we have big hopes that the closing arch of the novel will focus on his development as well.

And what about the big two? The developments made in the characterisations of Darcy and Lizzie warrant their own article, but it is safe to say that neither have suffered from the empathy shown to their surrounding cast. In a show that has taken pains to help us understand even the most minor of characters, Lizzie and Darcy both appear in the most accurate representations of Austen’s original characters that we have ever seen.

So thank you Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for reminding us why we love Pride and Prejudice so much. You have breathed new life into a story which didn’t need it, but has benefited greatly from it all the same.

Who is your favourite ‘Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ supporting character?

  • Lucy

    I love Gigi and Fitz together! They are so good together with all of their Dizzie shipping.. So cute! I love all of the characters and their development but Lydia has been heartbreaking… I want her story line to end up better than the one given to her in the book, but I don’t think that will happen, simply the nature of the story they are telling.

  • zpplnchick

    Yes! Absolutely loved this article! Thank you for finally covering LBD stuff… I’ve been waiting for months for Hypable to properly discover and cover The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

  • KleppMelk

    For every new adoption I see of P&P I am immediately hooked again, and this time the added material as a result of everything being modernised and the fact that the side characters are more fleshed out just makes The Lizzie Bennet show maybe the most amazing thing I’ve seen on youtube.

  • http://twitter.com/Merina2 Merina

    This article’s notes on Lydia are interesting to me. I spent most of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ wanting to strangle Lydia’s ridiculously immature, infuriating neck…but what with the latest episodes revelations, I’m starting to feel – impossibly – bad for her. This article seems to share much of the fandom’s opinion that isn’t entirely to blame for her actions. I have to disagree – but I’m starting to see where you’re all coming from. It’s certainly an original take on a character, and merit has to be given for that :)

    Very well-written piece, let’s have some more LBD articles soon, please!

    • Molly

      Have you seen the Lydia Bennet videos? They’re not necessary, but they show A LOT more of Lydia’s character (especially the most recent ones). After watching them, it’s hard to believe there was a time when I didn’t love her.

    • https://twitter.com/maramawhyte Marama Whyte

      I can promise more LBD articles (:

  • thejirehscope

    This article is spot-on on discussing what exactly makes LBD different from the other adaptations, besides its transmedia format and modern take on P&P. Great article!

  • Molly

    These characters are all pretty good, but I think the LBD version of Kitty Bennet is particularly refreshing. And the way Rosie plays her! A truly great method actor.

    • Sofia

      I completely agree. Kitty is definitely my favorite character in the LBD

  • Nadia

    gigi

  • http://twitter.com/CuriousCarson Carson

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. The way they’ve develop the characters, I feel like, it complements the book, despite the changes. Like its easier for me to understand the characters now after watching LBD than it was when I first read the book.

    • http://www.facebook.com/karen.lyon.39566 Karen Lyon

      It’s an excellent compliment to the book. As a Jane Austen fan, I am hooked on the fresh twists the crew gives the story. As a teacher, I am so jazzed that it has such a huge following…..we love it when classic literature lives on!

  • Amy

    Awhhhh, I love this so so much.

  • crdetmer

    We DO know Wickham does not care about Lydia. He emotionally abused her and released a sex tape of her without her consent. Do you actually feel this is something people do to those they care about? I like the article overall, but no, Wickham does not care about Lydia.

    • Carilyn

      No, he doesn’t … but a lot of people were almost convinced he might care, that he might turn out differently than his book counterpart (as other characters had), right up until the on-camera emotional abuse and the sex tape scandal. The very first videos of Lydia and Wickham’s relationship really showed how charming Wickham could be. He was there for Lydia, making her feel special after being inadvertently hurt by Lizzie. If I hadn’t known how horrible he really was… I would have believed he cared. His emotional abuse was very, very subtle.

      I think that’s what the author of the article was trying to get at. Wickham may have lied to us and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice… but in LBD, he played with our emotions almost as much as he did Lydia’s, making him much more of a menace than he was in the original.

      • crdetmer

        I basically agree with you. People were defending Wichkam and wanting him to be redeemed even thought the abuse. I felt that it wan’t until the sex tape website leaked that that the large defense of Wickham finally stopped. And abuse is often very subtle, both in LBD and in real life. And yes, the LBD team has effectively included us as the audience in the people who are played by Wickham.

        However, I don’t feel like that excuses the question posed in the article. Maybe the author was trying to highlight how he Wickham also plays with the viewers emotions, but then that needs to be stated directly. Questing the conclusion that Wickham doesn’t care for Lydia directly after writing that there are two sides to every story doesn’t make that point. It makes me think that the author still questions Wickham’s true feelings and motives.

  • blahhh

    Are they going to make more? Or are they done with the Diaries?

    • Lucy

      Apparently they’re planning on doing another series after LBD is done (which is supposed to be the end of February/beginning of March- around 100 episodes). I’m personally hoping for Emma because I think that Emma’s personality is perfect for this sort of medium.

      • par_parenthese

        I heard Jane Eyre floated as an idea for the next adaptation, and it made me want to smash my fingers in a drawer or something. Agree with you about Emma, and I think Northanger Abbey would be great, too, and easily adaptable to the vlog medium, since Catherine and Isabella are basically 19th-century Twihards.

        • http://twitter.com/themeels Amelia Brown

          Northanger Abbey is my favorite Austen novel. It’s just so self-aware of its cheesiness. And one day I may get around to reading the copy of “The Mysteries of Udolpho” I picked up in a Boston bookshop out of irony.

          • par_parenthese

            I just read NA a year or so ago and was blown away by how funny it is. I swear there was hardly a page I didn’t find something to laugh at on. It’s the Austen I recommend to people who’ve never read Austen before because it’s the most blatantly satirical and thus preps the reader for the satire in the other novels, which exists but is often overlooked. I think it would be great for an LBD-style adaptation.

            I’ve also thought how interesting it would be to have a Vlogbrothers format with two central characters vlogging TO each other — even two romantic leads, like Emma and Mr. Knightley, or two secondary characters, like Dolly and Kitty from Anna Karenina.

            Oh, or what about Vanity Fair? Lord knows Becky Sharp would have a vlog.

          • http://twitter.com/themeels Amelia Brown

            Oh gosh, Becky Sharp would be priceless. I can just imagine the spinoff vlogs and tweets that would result from the truly vast wealth of comedic moments amidst the drama there.

            And the vlogbrothers format idea would be pretty cool to see!

        • Lucy

          Jane Eyre would not work at all! I just don’t see.. how it would work.. It’s my favorite novel ever but no no no.. Not a vlog adaption..

          • Emily

            I can’t imagine how you would ever modernize Jane Eyre. It just. . . doesn’t translate.

          • h4wk

            You’re right. The only “modern” take on Jane Eyre I’ve managed to see work – wasn’t even a modern take. It was a Thursday Next Novel.

      • PotionWillow207

        I don’t know if they would do Emma, though. Clueless already did a modern interpretation of that story. And yes, it’s ’90s but it wasn’t that long ago. I don’t know that you could make that story much more modern that it would be significantly different.

        • http://twitter.com/spohie88 Sophie

          I would like to point out Bridget Jones diary and bride and prejudice and an itv version I can’t remember the name of. They are all modern remakes of P&P but they still managed the vlog format, why would clueless stop Emma?

          • PotionWillow207

            If you’re talking about Lost in Austen, that’s not a remake. Calling it a remake is like saying that A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a remake of the knights of the Round Table legends. It takes a modern woman and transports her into the Pride and Prejudice story. And I’ve never seen Bride and Prejudice, but that’s because I haven’t heard much good about it. Even my friends who liked it said you have to go into it knowing its going to be tacky and either accept it or ignore it. The ones who didn’t like it said the mash up of Bollywood and 19th Century England straight up doesn’t work. As for Bridget Jones’ Diary, that wasn’t a remake, either. It was an adaptation of a novel that was a reinterpretation of Pride And Prejudice. And in the literay world, once you start removing yourself from the original source you start losing credibility.

            Clueless was a direct modernization of the novel Emma. No time travel, no secondary sources. So unless the LBD team does something drastically different to the story, which would make it not Emma, the direct remake has already been done recently.

  • Kavitha

    Agreed. I actually don’t really like Pride and Prejudice, I guess it’s just because of some of the characters. After LBD though, I’m considering re-reading it with a new point of view.

  • http://remaaarkable.tumblr.com/ kizzyneechan

    I was amazed by the introduction Fitz as a major supporting character. While we assume Bing likes Darcy because Bing likes everyone, having someone like Fitz who is also friends with Darcy gives us a clear idea that Lizzie might not be seeing the whole picture when it comes to Darcy. Fitz has a perfectly level head and clear view, and he still likes Darcy–so there must be something about the dude that Lizzie’s missing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/florencia.d.marco Flor Di Marco

    Loved it! missed something espeficif about Gigi Darcy! She (almost, besides Lydia) the most developed character for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=646371872 Elizabeth Lee Hammons

    Oh Lord, I could talk all day about how much I love Lydia. I’ve said this frequently on Tumblr, but I needed this adaptation of Lydia. MKW is perfect.

  • KatieGirl

    Fitz ! Every gal needs her gay pal.

  • Sarah

    I love how smart and competent they’ve made Charlotte in this adaptation. I can’t decide whether I love her or Bambi-eyed Jane more…

  • Taffy

    I am a lifelong Pride and Prejudice fan, and the LBD have given me empathy for both Charlotte and Lydia, and have made me like both characters for the first time. All the acting and writing is superb. In the LBD, Gigi is spunky and pivotal in getting Lizzie and Darcy together, whereas in every other adaptation of P&P she is spineless and silent. One argument with this article– Wickham’s character is expanded, and we do see more of his and Lydia’s relationship, but it is an extremely abusive one, and he is certainly not acting out of love in his behavior to her. Self-love, perhaps.

  • sarge

    i really love the tandem of Gigi and Fitz. they are not only big shippers of “Dizzie” but also great friends with one another.

  • Cora

    I actually adore Lydia Bennett in LBD. Not because I like Lydia as a character, but the way she’s portrayed seems pretty accurate of what Lydia Bennett as Jane Austen wrote her would be like in this day and age. All three Bennett girls are particularly accurate (in my opinion anyway!) and is what makes me enjoy this modern retelling so much!

  • Manel

    Thank you for acknowledging Caroline Lee/Jessica Jade Andres. She is not receiving enough love. Seriously. And of course, Charlotte Lu!

  • Ada

    Personnaly, a character that I didn’t like in the book, or any other adaptation before the LBD is Bingley. He always seemed so generic, but I seriously love Bing Lee. For the first time I feel like I get his character. He and Jane are adorable together.

  • Ariel

    Wow. If not the content of this article, the title really frustrates me. The only reason that these characters exist at all is because Jane Austen wrote them. What you see isn’t so much character development as it is character screen time. Classic literature was written in such a different format than what we expect from even a hundred years ago, let alone today, and side characters were written differently. I adore what Hank Green and his team have created, but I think it’s a big mistake to say that that these “new” characters are better.

  • Ana T.

    I agree with the majority of the character assessments stated here, except for that of Lizzie. To be honest, I find her to be a bit out of character and a lot annoying. Regardless, I’m in love with the series, which goes to show the true power of the supporting cast.

  • andrea

    I love gigi and fitz so much! i barely notice them in the book and now they are my favorite, gigi is my spirit animal!

    and dizzie…OTP since 1813, no one can beat them.

    I wonder if you can cover about “pemberly digital”? so many fans fighting over it, some love it, some hate it, really dark time for thelbd fandom right now

  • betty

    I’d have to say Charlotte and Jane. But equally Gigi and Fitz for the other team.

  • Pebble Lee

    I love what they’ve done for Lydia’s character and story. I really appreciate how they added more depth to all of the characters, and there are new dimensions to all of them that I feel has never been done by any adaptation before.

    However, I love Gigi and Fitz for their blatant shipping tactics. Do the other characters not follow them on Twitter? It just cracks me up imagining what Darcy’s face would be like to read about their hijinks as he scrolls through his Twitter feed.

  • Rachel

    i adore the show, completely addicted. i think they have represented the characters original integrities while making them modern and fun. all the actors are fantastic and i hate to see it end.

  • Brittany

    All of these new articles about LBD are the reason I started watching it. I had heard of it before sure, but as a fan of the books and Colin Firth’s portrayal of Darcy I was skeptical. I was so wrong. LBD is SO good. I love how they updated things and it’s believable and doesn’t feel cheap in any way! I’ve subsequently watched all of Lizzie’s videos and all of Gigi’s. I’ll start Lydia’s next and maybe catch up on the tweets (it’s not like I don’t know what happens). Thanks for helping me to give this series a chance. Also, I’m super glad I didn’t start watching until now, because the wait to see Darcy was bad enough, I can’t imagine what everyone else went through, but I am excited to be able to finish the series with everyone and it will be nice to catch everyone’s videos/tweets in order now.

  • ane_drew

    First, I want to thank Hypable. I wouldn’t have learned about this series if you guys hadn’t started covering it. Second, I’m obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice and hated adaptations that deviated too much from the original material. But surprise, surprise, this wasn’t the case with TLBD. Kudos to everyone behind it. :)

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