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?

Major changes coming to ‘Sense8’ season 2

And I'm excited about what happens next.

11:00 am EDT, May 30, 2016

Sense8 is currently in production for their second season, and they’ve gotten pretty far. Here are some important things you need to know about what’s to come for your favorite cluster!

Ever since Sense8 debuted on Netflix a year ago I’ve been obsessed. Not only because it was such a fantastic premise of connecting 8 people, but because it was so immensely diverse and represented so many people from all over the world. Now that we’ve got a season 2, it’s about time to start learning what it’ll be about.

There’s some major things about Sense8 season 2 that are going to be dramatically different, and we’ve gotten an update on what our favorite characters will be up to this season thanks to BuzzFeed.

There’s only 1 Wachowski left

One of the biggest draws of Sense8 was the fact that it was a Wachowski sister production. These sisters have brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas so we knew when we heard that last name that this was going to be an epic series.

This year, only Lana Wachowski is staying on to direct the show. Lilly Wachowski is taking the much-deserved time off after having just come out as transgender in March, and is using the time to focus on herself. Should the show return to Netflix for a third season then she’ll probably return.

The return of only one sister isn’t something that should affect the show too much, and I’m sure if it does then any changes will be welcome and give the show a fresh vibe — not that it needs it.

Sense8 Nomi Amanita

Capheus has been re-cast

For those who enjoyed Capheus’ story in Kenya the most prepare yourselves for a major change. Due to disagreements between Lana and Aml Ameen, who portrays Capheus in season 1, Ameen left the show before production began.

Capheus’ story isn’t one you can just replace and end so suddenly, so instead of writing him out Wachowski opted instead to re-cast him. Toby Onwumere will now play the part.

For those of you concerned with any disagreement between Ameen and Wachowski being over her being transgender, Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi, was adamant about stopping that rumor.

The good news is that Onwumere has been completely welcomed by the cast and he felt immediately connected to them upon meeting them at dinner for the first time. This makes me more confident that his chemistry with the actors will show on screen, which is one of the reasons I love Sense8 so much – the chemistry has been fantastic in every episode with all 8 actors.

But these changes can be amazing!

Even though they’re major changes from how the show operated last year, I feel like the new single director and the new actor is going to bring a welcome fresh take for the new season.

Every show can use something new in each season they come back just to keep it interesting and unique every year. I feel like, thanks to these changes made to the cast and crew, the story isn’t going to have to change too drastically just for the sake of change. Obviously it’s going to probably take to places we don’t expect, but that will be because the story is naturally progressing, instead of them trying to change actors and plots already set.

Are you excited for season 2 of ‘Sense8’

Hollywood reacts to ‘Begin Again’ director’s candid criticism of Keira Knightley’s acting skills

Should the trust between actors and directors ever be broken?

10:33 am EDT, May 30, 2016

After Begin Again director John Carney’s candid comments about Keira Knightley’s acting went viral, Hollywood has taken to Twitter to defend the British actress.

In case you’ve somehow not heard the story, here’s the sitch:

Over the weekend, The Independent released an interview with Irish director John Carney, in which he had some harsh words for former colleague Keira Knightley.

The pair worked together on the 2013 musical rom-com Begin Again, where Knightley starred opposite Mark Ruffalo as a promising young folk singer recovering from a broken heart.

Carney evidently wasn’t satisfied with Knightley’s performance, claiming she “always has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done.”

Related: Exclusive: Keira Knightley, Joe Wright talk Anna Karenina and the choice to set it in the world of theater

Going on to praise both Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s performances, Carney said, “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that.”

“I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”

Carney concluded, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”

Now, Carney clearly had a frustrating experience working with Knightley on this film, and his distinction between ‘proper film actors’ and ‘movie stars’ may be legitimate in theory. Begin Again certainly wasn’t the great critical hit that Carney’s Once had been, and at the time of the movie’s release, Keira Knightley herself admitted that she struggled with the material, not being a singer-songwriter herself and having no great appreciation for music.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she told The Guardian. “I was always more into reading and drama. I was such a geek. … There’s often a huge link between music and memory. And I’ve got such a bad memory.”

But the issue Hollywood professionals have with Carney’s comments seem to have less to do with Knightley’s specific performance, and more about the fact that Carney made these comments at all.

Ava DuVernay certainly makes a great point about why Carney should have stayed silent:

Both industry professionals and notable journalists have joined DuVernay in speaking out against Carney. Here are some of their reactions:

All the same, there are some that find Carney’s candidness refreshing.

What do you think? Should John Carney have held back his criticism of Keira Knightley out of professional courtesy? Or was he right to share his negative experience?

John Carney rose to international fame with Once in 2007, and this year he’s coming out with a musical drama titled Sing Street.

Spectre director Sam Mendes is officially not returning for more James Bond movies.

While we wait for (almost certain) confirmation that Daniel Craig won’t reprise his role as 007 in the next James Bond film, we can at least contend with the knowledge that Sam Mendes will not direct Bond 25.

The two-time James Bond director came on board the franchise for the wildly successful Skyfall, but his follow-up Spectre was not considered as great of a success.

Even before Spectre‘s release, Mendes was talking about quitting the all-consuming franchise, saying at the time, “I don’t think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold.” But it was only during a Welsh literature festival that he finally confirmed his departure.

Related: Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra doesn’t want to be a Bond Girl, she wants to be Bond

“It was an incredible adventure. I loved every second of it, but I think it’s time for somebody else [to direct],” said Mendes, as quoted via The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

Bond 25 is likely to be completely new chapter of the franchise, with Daniel Craig set to follow Mendes’ lead and officially announce his departure soon. Everyone’s been expecting him to bow out ever since his controversial promotional campaign for Spectre, and it’s even more likely now that his two-time collaborator has called it quits.

On the speculation about who might replace Craig, Mendes says, “I can guarantee that whatever happens next it will not be what you expect.”

“[Bond producer] Barbara Broccoli chooses who is going to be the next Bond, end of story. And without that there would have been no Daniel Craig because public support for Daniel was zero. It was her saying: ‘That man over there, he’s going to change the whole tenor, I’m going to cast him.’ That turned the whole thing on its head,” says Mendes.

Rumor has it that Tom Hiddleston is in talks to be the next James Bond, but until we learn more, we can speculate away as we wish! It’s also time to start making those Bond 25 director wishlists. Anyone know if Ava DuVernay is available?